Portly and grandfatherly, with what some might consider stereotypical Jewish mannerisms, Finkel was a fifty-year veteran of Yiddish theater whose career received a shot in the arm in his early 70s as...
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
David E. Kelley has created some amazing television series, including Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal. He’s also married to the utterly stunning Michelle Pfeiffer. But before all of that, one of his early series was Picket Fences. This ensemble drama focused on a small town and included a legal component and how small crime cases affected the entire population.
Sherriff Jimmy Brock (Tom Skerritt) has to police the small town of Rome, Wisconsin. His wife Dr. Jill Brock (Kathy Baker) is the town doctor. They have two sons and a pensive teen daughter, Kimberly (Holly Marie Combs). He manages a precinct with sexy deputies Maxine Stewart (Lauren Holly) and Kenny Lacos (Costas Mandylor). Each episode, an unusual crime or legal issue will culminate in a court case presided over by Judge Henry Bone (Ray Walston) and defense attorney Douglas Wambaugh (Fyvush Finkel).
The series has a similar irreverence to Ally McBeal. The town features unique characters including the nosy 911 operator Ginny Weedon (Zelda Rubinstein) and the slightly creepy coroner Carter Pike (Kelly Connell). It also focuses on the legality of bizarre court cases including an assailant that likes to take baths in people’s homes, a case of spontaneous human combustion, and the legality of euthanasia.
The series has something for everyone. Each episode has equal parts family drama, the romantic interplay of the two sexy deputies, the procedural crime drama of the case of the episode, and the legal tension of court proceedings. There is also a ton of humor in the exchanges between Walston and Finkel. It also explores morality without being overly preachy. It doesn’t push an agenda but rather explores all sides of the issue.
Picket Fences offers a refreshing look back at a family drama that has a happy family. The Brock family is a united family unit dealing with the social issues, bizarre crimes, and dramatic tension of their offbeat small town. Despite the lack of internet and cell phones, the series does have some pretty relevant subject matter that holds up .
The series won multiple Emmy Awards both for the series and for leads Skerritt, Baker, Finkel, Walston, and Leigh Taylor-Young. It also featured notable appearances by James Earl Jones and Marlee Matlin.
This series makes great binge watching material, and the first two seasons are available for free on Hulu.
Returned to series TV with "Fantasy Island" (ABC), a short-lived revival of the popular 70s series
Cast as Murray Chotiner in Oliver Stone's biographical drama "Nixon"
Acted in the crime comedy "The Crew," starring Burt Reynolds and Richard Dreyfuss
TV special debut on HBO, "Robert Klein on Broadway"
Cast in "A Serious Man," written and directed by The Coen Brothers
TV series debut in regular role, "Picket Fences" (CBS); played attorney Douglas Wambaugh; won Emmy Award
Signed for the national company of "Fiddler on the Roof"; started off playing the innkeeper and eventually graduated to the leading role
Reteamed with David E Kelley on the Fox drama series "Boston Public"; played history teacher Harvey Lipschultz
Returned to Broadway in the revival of "Cafe Crown"
Broadway debut as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof"
Conceived and toured one-man-show, "Finkel's Follies"
Began his career in Yiddish theater at age 9 (date approx.)
TV-movie debut, "Seize the Day" on PBS's "American Playhouse"
Created one-man stage show "Fyvush Finkel – From Second Ave to Broadway"; sons Elliot and Ian accompanied him with a full orchestra for musical segments; premiered off-Broadway in 1997
Again starred in a Broadway revival of "Fiddler on the Roof"
Portly and grandfatherly, with what some might consider stereotypical Jewish mannerisms, Finkel was a fifty-year veteran of Yiddish theater whose career received a shot in the arm in his early 70s as he became a regular on the acclaimed CBS dramatic series "Picket Fences" (1992-96). <p> Finkel first appeared on the stage at the age of nine, acting for almost thirty-five years in the thriving Yiddish theaters of the Lower East Side as well as performing as a standup comic in the Catskill's so-called Borscht Belt. While never a big star, he worked regularly until the venues began dying out in the early 1960s. He landed a small part in the national touring company of "Fiddler on the Roof" (1965), eventually making his Broadway debut in the role of Tevye the milkman in 1970 in the long-running Broadway company. Between Broadway and the touring company Finkel spent twelve years with the production. Nearly two decades later, Finkel's work in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of a Yiddish classic "Crown Cafe" (1989) earned him an OBIE Award.<p> Finkel made his film debut in the detective comedy "Off Beat" (1986) and more small roles in films followed. It was his appearance as a shyster lawyer in Sidney Lumet's "Q & A" (1990) that led "Picket Fences" producer/writer David Kelley to cast Finkel in the regular role of public defender Douglas Wambaugh. Though the character was not conceived as Jewish, Finkel brought that quality to Wambaugh, a man who though at times may act a bit deviously, is fundamentally concerned with providing his clients with the best defense possible. For the role Finkel earned a 1994 Emmy Award, announcing at the televised ceremonies that he had waited 51 years for that moment. Following the demise of "Picket Fences", the actor had a regular role on the short-lived revival of "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1998) and then reteamed with writer-producer David E Kelley to play the spunky history teacher Harvey Lipschultz in "Boston Public" (Fox, 2000- ).
born August 15, 1995; mother Yasna Finkel, father Abott Finkel