Dann Florek

Active - 1983 - 2013  |   Born - May 1, 1950 in Flat Rock, Michigan, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime

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Biography by Bruce Eder

Dann Florek was a working actor for 15 years, on stage, in movies, and on television before he became a television star on Law and Order. Born in Flat Rock, MI (near Detroit) in 1950, he was a physics major at Eastern Michigan University until he discovered his affinity for acting and theater. He moved to New York in the early 1970s and became a member of The Acting Company at The Juilliard School. Florek's New York theater credits included work in productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Love's Labour's Lost, and Death of a Salesman. He later performed in many productions staged at the La Jolla Playhouse and the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. Florek's film credits include Sweet Liberty, Hard Rain, Angel Heart, and The Flintstones, and he has made appearances on NYPD Blue, Wings, The Pretender, and The Practice. Additionally, he played Abraham Lincoln in the short-lived Fox Network series The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer. It was as Dave Meyer on L.A. Law that Florek first came to the attention of television viewers, but it was his four seasons on Law and Order that made him a star. He became a familiar and popular actor as Lieutenant (and later Captain) Donald Cragen, the head of the detective squad on whose investigations the series focuses from week to week. Florek also directed several episodes of the series after leaving the cast of the show in 1993, and is an active member of the Directors Guild of America. In 1999, he joined the cast of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, reprising and greatly expanding his role of Captain Cragen, now head of a detective unit specifically assigned to the investigation of sex crimes. Equally skilled at comedy and drama (although more familiar for his work in the latter), Florek is one of a new generation of triple-threat actor/directors to emerge from television in the 1980s and 1990s. Florek continued to work on Law & Order until 2010.

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  • Initially majored in math and physics in college, but switched to drama when he received a scholarship.
  • Moved to New York City after college and became a member of the Acting Company at Juilliard; appeared in various stage productions in New York and San Diego.
  • Appeared in guest roles on TV and in supporting parts in movies (Sweet Liberty, Angel Heart, Moon Over Parador) before hitting it big in 1988 as direct-mail entrepreneur David Meyer on L.A. Law.
  • Signature role came in 1990 as Capt. Donald Cragen on Law & Order; directed several episodes of the series after departing in 1993.
  • Starred as Abraham Lincoln on the controversial, short-lived sitcom The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer.
  • Reprised his role as Capt. Cragen on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 1999.
  • Is an avid golfer and collects antique golf clubs.
  • Went by "Danny" until he told a secretary it was time to drop the "y"; she took him literally, leading to the unusual spelling of his first name.