Actress Leslie Hendrix (a.k.a. Character Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers) had the best damn acting gig in the world for 19 years on Law and Order and its many spin offs! She was known as the longest running recurring character in “the franchise.” So, why did she never appear in the credits?
I should know, I think I’ve watched nearly all the episodes of Law and Order, and Criminal Intent, and Trial by Jury multiple times. I watch an occasional Special Victims Unit. However, I got bored with the SVU characters and story line. (How many ways can you portray sexual assault? Whereas, homicide is endless in my creative opinion!)
But, getting back to Elizabeth Rodgers, (I even had to look up her character’s first name, as everyone called her Rodgers – that’s it!) It’s akin to you working at your job in a big corporation for 20 years and no one putting your name on your office door! Law and Order was supposed to be cutting edge and groundbreaking for women. Who cares if she wasn’t in every scene? She was still important.
Why did they only give us a mere morsel of a character? Are medical examiners not interesting and supposed to be relegated to “the back room?” Not at all! She was pivotal to many shows in a cliffhanger sort of way. No we weren’t supposed to know too much about the characters personal lives in Law and Order, but over many years, you do come to know them.
Rodgers was a very smart, wise cracking medical examiner who let certain detectives “do their own examinations” and “take their best guess.” Romance? It was hinted that she had a thing with Detective Lenny Briscoe (played by the late Jerry Orbach). She supposedly wanted to be “a real surgeon,“ but couldn’t tolerate cutting real live people. She may have been somewhat bitchy, but who wouldn’t be under her working conditions? Rodgers enjoyed the banter with her colleagues and she was a consummate professional on the witness stand.
Perhaps they could have done a spin-off similar to “Quincy, M. E”. of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s – a cheesy, imitation by today’s standards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI3pd-dNN-0. There are a few shows currently featuring medical examiners currently, but they don’t possess as much pizzazz.
The real actress, Leslie Hendrix is originally from San Francisco, is passionate about live theater and has also appeared in a few movies. In May, she appeared at the Hartford Stage Company in the play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a Tony Award winning comedy.
Leslie Hendrix originally auditioned to be a lawyer and didn’t even know the profession of medical examiner.
Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers, her mystery is maintained. Even though she “was only part-time” and didn’t receive the credit for her talents, I hope she was paid well!
A medical examiner’s findings are very important to a homicide case by offering the jury physical evidence of what happened to the victim. Although sometimes hard to listen to, or to see, families have the right to know what happened to their loved one, it’s their right. Another crucial right for surviving victims is the opportunity to report to the court the impact their crime has had on their lives, and the lives of those connected with the victim.
In the courtroom the victim impact statement is often the only voice the deceased may have, and it must be created and presented professionally, difficult to do when experiencing the most vulnerable time in a surviving victim’s life.
My professional Victim Impact Statement Assistance Service is available to anyone looking for help from someone who has had the experience as a crime victim. You owe it to yourself and to your loved one.