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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Law & Order’s Under-Appreciated George Dzundza

George Dzundza (Law & Order, Sgt. Max Greevey) has a birthday coming up on July 19. He was part of the initial cast of Law & Order, but as the earlier episodes of the show are often aired in the wee hours of the morning on TNT, many viewers don’t get a chance to see him in action. Personally, next to Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach), Max Greevey could very well be the only other person on the show who epitomized the typical New York City detective.

George Dzundza (pronounced "ZUHN-za") was born on July 19, 1945, in Rosenheim, Germany. His father was Ukrainian, and his mother was Polish. His parents were forced into factory labor by the Nazis, and as a result, he spent the first few years of his life in displaced persons camps with his parents and one brother. The family immigrated to the United States in 1956. He attended St. John's University, where he studied speech and theater arts. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

George has a varied acting resume, appearing in both television and movies. His first role was in 1974 for an episode of the series “Kung Fu”. He also appeared on TV shows Starsky and Hutch, The Waltons, and The Streets Of San Francisco before landing a role in the movie “The Deer Hunter,” a film that won 5 Oscars.

Logan (Noth), Greevey (Dzundza), Stone (Michael Moriarty), Robinette (Richard Brooks)

George has appeared in movies and TV shows almost too numerous to mention here, playing a huge range of characters. One that he was perfectly suited for was Law & Order’s Max Greevey, a role he originated on the pilot episode “Everybody’s Favorite Bagman.” (A note here about the pilot. "Everybody's Favorite Bagman" is the pilot episode, filmed in 1988, but it was shown as the sixth episode in the series' first year. This episode has a slightly different look to it, especially in the original version of the credits.) Max was Irish-American and a strict Catholic, and sometimes his faith came in conflict with his job and his partner, also of Irish heritage and Catholic, Mike Logan (Chris Noth). Much to the horror or fans, Max Greevey was shot, execution-style, outside his home, in full view of his wife, to silence him from testifying in a corruption case. This ocurred in the first episode of the second season, titled “Confession,” and Dzundza did not actually appear in this episode.

Shortly after his stint on Law & Order, he starred in “The Butcher’s Wife” (a cute flick with Demi Moore and Jeff Daniels; George was the butcher), and later “Basic Instinct” in the role of detective partner to Michael Douglas. He’s also done the voice over for animated characters for the “Batman” and “Superman” series.

George also has the distinction of appearing in three television series where he was written out after the first season: "Law & Order, " "Jesse," and "Hack". Most recently, he’s appeared as Harold O’Malley on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Happy birthday to George! And while TNT seems to keep his episodes out of prime time, true Law & Order fans appreciate his contribution to the show.

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Anonymous said...

He's probably my favourite L&O detective....

Anonymous said...

we are a big fan of "Max" He's a great detective and the actor's life itself could be a book.

Wishing GeorgeD good health and not to eat too many hotdogs! :)

Dee Dee said...

George Dzundza is a definite positive addition to the original season. I was very shocked and disappointed that his character was discontinued. The character of Max Greevy was tough but always unbiased and honest.

Dee Dee said...

George Dzundza is definitely a positive to the first season of Law & Order. I was shocked and disappointed that his character was discontinued. The character of Max Greevey is tough and always unbiased and honest.

Bryan Doherty said...

Greevey was an awesome detective. On one hand his departure did lead to Lennie Briscoe so it's hard to be too sad but Greevey and Logan were a blast to watch together. If only they could have had more than one season together. An excellent character and one of my personal favorites.

Chaise Pomme said...

Loved him and the original all male cast. They had a certain special chemistry. It is understandable that later seasons mixed up the gender balance but the original cast and Max Greevey remain my favourite.

Unknown said...

Big loss to L&O after George left. It took a couple years but eventually L&O recovered with the casting of Lenny Briscoe.