The Schmooze

6 Things You Might Not Have Known About Steven Hill

Steven Hill, who made a name for himself as gruff district attorney Adam Schiff on “Law&Order,” died Tuesday in New York City. He was 94.

We pulled together six tidbits about the legendary actor you might not know (hint: he became Orthodox late in life and once acted with Marlo Brando).

1) He was one of the first students at the Actor’s Studio.

Hill was one of the first applicants accepted to the world famous Actor’s Studio (long before James Lipton sat on stage and asked celebrities to say their favorite curse word). Fellow students included Montgomery Clift, Julie Harris and Marlon Brando.

2) He had a slew of successful theatre gigs.

The actor’s first appearance on Broadway was a bit part in “A Flag Is Born,” a play about two Holocaust survivors. He also acted alongside Henry Fonda in the Tony award-winning production of “Mr. Roberts.”

3) He made a guest appearance on pretty much every popular television show in the 50’s and 60’s.

“Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Fugitive” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs” to name a few.

4) He was in “Yentl.”

Hill played Reb Alter Vishkower in the Barbra Streisand smash hit “Yentl.”

5) He got in touch with his Jewish identity thanks, in part, to Sigmund Freud.

Hill played Freud in the stage production “A Far Country,” and recalled a hot-button moment when one of his fellow castmates had to yell, “You’re a Jew!”

“When she would let loose this blast, I would take it. And in the pause that followed, I would think, ‘What about this?’ And I was provoked to explore my religion,” Hill told the New York Times. “I slowly became aware that there was something more profound going on in the world than just plays and movies and TV shows.”

6) Hill would later become much more observant.

The decision impacted his career. Hill apparently lost out on movie and stage roles because he couldn’t work during Shabbat. After one season appearing on the hit television show “Mission: Impossible,” he was replaced because of the restrictions in his schedule.

Thea Glassman is the Forward’s multimedia fellow. Contact her at or on Twitter, @theakglassman

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6 Things You Might Not Have Known About Steven Hill

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