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Steven Hill, who is remembered for his starring roles in the first season of CBS’ “Mission: Impossible” and NBC’s long-running “Law & Order” from 1990 to 2000, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 94. No specific cause of death was announced.
Born Solomon Krakowsky on Feb. 24, 1922 in Seattle, Washington, Hill’s acting debut came in 1950 when he co-starred opposite Hedy Lamarr in theatrical “A Lady Without Passport.” For the rest of the 1950s and 1960s, he co-starred in B-movies such as “The Goddess,” “Kiss Her Goodbye,” “A Child Is Waiting” and “The Slender Thread.” Early guest roles on television included “Actor’s Studio,” “Theater of Romance,” “Suspense” and “Starlight Theater.”
Although “Mission: Impossible” ran for seven seasons, Hill refused to abide by the production schedule that required working on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, being an Orthodox Jew. He was replaced after season one by Peter Graves and ultimately went on a sabbatical from acting from 1967 to 1977, working on a variety of jobs including selling real estate in New York.
He returned to acting in 1977, initially with a guest role on short-lived drama “The Andros Targets.” But it was his 10-season role as District Attorney Adam Schiff on “Law & Order,” which resulted in two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, that made Hill a weekly fixture on the small screen.
“Steven was not only one of the truly great actors of his generation, he was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. He is also the only actor I’ve known who consistently tried to cut his own lines,” said “Law & order” creator Dick Wolf in a statement to the Associated Press.
Hill was married twice. He was with his first wife, Selma Stern, from 1951 to 1964 and fathered four children with her. He had another five children with his second wife, Rachel, whom he married in 1967.