By Michael Moriarty
I was certain he would live to be 100 and I would, of course, have a chance to bump into him again somewhere.
He disappointed me by six years!
I don't think I have ever worked with a performer in my entire life who made it so easy and enjoyable coming to work every day.
Neither of us were very good at small talk.
However, when I was called to set, there he was, either ahead of me or arriving at the same time.
He made it all look so easy and by the end of our first year together, I began to bring more and more of myself to Ben Stone.
I couldn't tell the difference between how Steven Hill spoke to me and how Steven Hill's District Attorney spoke to everyone.
His performing was that seamless.
That miraculously transparent.
That much Steven Hill.
Somehow the entire Old Testament was contained there.
To what extent Steven offered suggestions about his role as The District Attorney of Law and Order, I have no idea.
I do know that his very presence commanded an extraordinary respect from everyone around him, including perfect strangers.
Instant noblesse oblige.
Whatever ideas he might have had to offer?
I trust Law and Order snapped them up.
I'm starting, for a number of reasons, to tear up just looking back.
And I must again offer thanks to the series' creator and producer, Dick Wolf.
"Just be yourself, Michael."
That was his one, major piece of advice.
Because of that, never has earning such a good salary ever been so easy and so rewarding in every possible way.
Steven Hill helped teach me how it's done.
Just being yourself.
The more I recall my entire, 50 year career in the theater, film and television, the more I conclude that Steven Hill was the most under-rated GREAT actor I know of.
He carried a genius that only Simone Signoret could describe.
She was once quoted as saying, "I don't know if I am a great actress. One thing I do know… is that I am transparent."
Steven's acting was utterly, completely and profoundly transparent.
There is something mystical about great actors and actresses like Steven and Ms. Signoret.
You have no idea where the power of their magic comes from and I am fairly certain they wouldn't know how to explain it either.
Transparency and honesty at that depth are things that needs no explanation.
Such efforts to describe it would actually throw a veil over their Truth.
He was my role model and, praise be to the Judeo-Christian God Steven was so devoted to, that I was given the splendid opportunity of four years working with one of the few heroes I had left in America.
Now that he's gone to the Holy Bible's God to Whom he was so devoted, I'll put his photo on my wall and have some lovely conversations with him.
Being a man of few words, his piercing intelligence will have me smiling in the shocking early hours of my work day.
I begin no later than 4 A.M. and recently, if I go to bed at 5:30 A.M., as is my wont these days, I arise at 2 A.M.
Assuming those divine souls in the Afterlife need no sleep at all?
"Good morning, Steven," I will say to his photo.
If he's not otherwise engaged, I should hear, "Good morning, Michael. Sorry you quit acting for this composing and writing thing but… well… you look a lot happier and more contented now than you were then"
"Ironically enough, playing Ben Stone was the happiest time I'd ever had as an actor."
"Then why'd you quit?"
"I knew bad things were coming to America but I never thought it would be an anti-Semitic, Islamic Marxist like Barack Hussein Obama."
Steven says nothing to me for the longest time.
He finally asked, "Didn't you say that you thought I'd live to 100 years of age?"
"If the Obama Nation hadn't shown up, I might have."
"Steven, I don't want to put words in your mouth."
"Now that I'm dead, I don't have to be as diplomatic as I was while I lived."
I'm looking forward to further conversations with the spiritual eloquence and soul of Steven Hill.
His photo will go up on my wall of heroes and heroines… and… my memory of American greatness, the breathtaking "transparency" of Steven Hill, shall not ever be forgotten.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.