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Steven Hill was born Solomon Krakovsky in Seattle, Washington. After serving four years in the Active Naval Reserve. He then re-enlisted in the Navy in 1952 for two years.
He is a retired American film and television actor. His two better-known roles are District Attorney Adam Schiff on the NBC TV drama series Law & Order, whom he portrayed for ten seasons (1990-2000), and Dan Briggs, the original team leader of the Impossible Missions Force on CBS's television series Mission: Impossible, whom he portrayed in the initial season of the show (1966-67).
Hill was the original leader of the Impossible Missions Force, Dan Briggs in the series Mission: Impossible beginning in 1966. The phrase "Good morning, Mr. Briggs..." was a fixture early in each episode as it began a tape recording he retrieved which detailed the task he must accomplish. However, he left the show in 1967 after the end of the first season. He was one of the few Orthodox Jewish Actors and had conflict with the shows producers for observing the Sabbath. He did not act for over 10 years after he left the show.
Hiatus and return to acting
Hill returned to work in the 1980s and 1990s, playing parental and authority-figure roles in such films as Yentl (1983), Garbo Talks (1984), Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs, Heartburn (1986), Running on Empty (1988), Billy Bathgate (1991) and The Firm (1993). Hill also appeared as a mob kingpin in Raw Deal (1986), an action vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hill played New York District Attorney Bower in Legal Eagles, a 1986 film, foreshadowing his appearance as Adam Schiff in Law & Order.
Law & Order
Hill is best known as Adam Schiff in the NBC TV drama series Law & Order, a part that he played for ten seasons (1990-2000). Hill says playing Adam Schiff is the hardest role he's ever had because of all the legal jargon he has to learn"It's like acting in a second language," says Hill. Hill adds that he agrees with the show's philosophy, saying that "there's a certain positive statement in this show. So much is negative today. The positive must be stated to rescue us from pandemonium. To me it lies in that principle: law and order."Hill earned another Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor In a Dramatic Series in 1997.
At the time of his departure from Law & Order, Hill was the longest-serving member of the original cast (his tenure was twice that of runner up Chris Noth); by the time the series was cancelled in 2010, Hill was the fourth longest-serving cast mate altogether (behind S. Epatha Merkerson, Sam Waterston and Jerry Orbach).