Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Orkin received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Theater from Franklin & Marshall College. He received a master's degree in Clinical Psychology from the Phillips Graduate Institute, and attended Yale Drama School, studying for a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater.
Orkin began working in advertising in Chicago in 1963. He gained acclaim with his comedy radio commercials(until 1982 in collaboration with Bert Berdis) for Time magazine, GMAC, The Gap and other clients. His radio spots, mini dramas dubbed by Newsweek as "The Advertising Theater of the Absurd," won many awards.
Orkin died of a hemorrhagic stroke in Thousand Oaks, California, at the age of 84.
Orkin was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, the Illinois Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Radio Advertising Bureau Hall of Fame.