The leader of the Impossible Missions Force, Steven Hill dies at 94

Steven Hill, who starred for years on “Law & Order” and played the leader of the Impossible Missions Force, died Tuesday in Monsey, N.Y., his daughter Sarah Gobioff confirmed the news.

Steven Hill (born on February 24, 1922) was best known for his role as District Attorney Adam Schiff on the NBC TV drama series Law & Order, whom he portrayed for 10 seasons (1990–2000), and Dan Briggs, the original team leader of the Impossible Missions Force on the CBS television series Mission: Impossible, whom he portrayed in the initial season of the show (1966–67).

Hill made his first Broadway stage appearance in Ben Hecht’s A Flag Is Born in 1946, which also featured a young Marlon Brando. Hill says his big break came when he landed a small part in the hit Broadway show Mister Roberts. “The director, Joshua Logan, thought I had some ability, and he let me create one of the scenes,” said Hill. “So, I improvised dialog and it went in the show. That was my first endorsement. It gave me tremendous encouragement to stay in the business.” Hill said this was a thrilling time in his life when, fresh out of the Navy, he played the hapless sailor Stefanowski. “You could almost smell it from the very first reading that took place; this is going to be an overwhelming hit,” said Hill. “We all felt it and experienced it and were convinced of it, and we were riding the crest of a wave from the very first day of rehearsals.”

Hill made his film debut in 1950 in A Lady Without Passport. He then re-enlisted in the Navy in 1952 for two years and, when he completed his service, resumed his acting in earnest. Strasberg later said, “Steven Hill is considered one of the finest actors America has ever produced”.

Hill was the original leader of the Impossible Missions Force, Dan Briggs in the series Mission: Impossible beginning in 1966. However, he left the show in 1967 after the end of the first season.

Hill is best known as Adam Schiff in the NBC TV drama series Law & Order, a part that he played for 10 seasons (1990–2000). Hill’s character is loosely modeled after the real former district attorney of New York, Robert Morgenthau and Morgenthau reportedly was a fan of the character. Hill says playing Adam Schiff is the hardest role he has ever had because of all the legal jargon he had to learn. “It’s like acting in a second language,” says Hill.

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 member altogether.

Hill and his first wife, Selma Stern, were married in 1951 and had four children before divorcing in 1964. Hill married his second wife, Rachel, in 1967 and they have five children. Hill died on August 23, 2016, at the age of 94.

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