It was on this day, May 1, 1950, American actor and director Ezekial Dann Florek was born in Flatrock, Michigan.
A student of Eastern Michigan University, Florek never graduated. He moved to New York City to pursue an acting career in the theater. He worked his way into supporting roles in such diverse ’80’s films as Sweet Liberty, Moon Over Parador and Angel Heart.
Perhaps better known for his role as Dave Meyer, the husband of Susan Ruttan’s character, Roxanne Melman, Florek appeared on 22 episodes of NBC’s hit drama L.A. Law beginning in 1988.
In 1990, Florek co-starred as Capt. Don Cragen in the NBC police procedural and legal drama television series Law & Order. The first few years of Law & Order had mediocre ratings. Finally after the close of the 1992-1993 season, NBC told creator/executive producer Dick Wolf that they would cancel the show unless he added a few women to the all-male cast.
Wolf reluctantly complied and fired Florek as well as Richard Brooks (who played Paul Robinette), replacing them with S. Epatha Merkerson and Jill Hennessy, respectively. However, Florek was allowed to direct a few Law & Order episodes in 1994 and 1995.
Florek reprised the role of Cragen in the 1995 episode “Bad Faith” (which he also directed), and in the 1998 TV-movie Exiled, centered on former L&O star Chris Noth’s character, Mike Logan.
In 1999 he returned to the Cragen role, only this time on the Law & Order spin-off series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as the unit captain. Florek was written out of the series during its 15th season, and his final episode aired on January 15, 2014. He reprised his role in the 21st episode of season 16 in May 2015.
Dann Florek is 67 years old today.