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Norman Lloyd, the Emmy-nominated veteran actor, producer and director whose career ranged from Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur and acting with Charlie Chaplin in Limelight to St. Elsewhere, Dead Poets Society and The Practice, died May 10 in his sleep at his Los Angeles home. He was 106. A family friend confirmed the news to Deadline.
During one of the famous Lloyd birthday celebrations, Karl Malden said, “Norman Lloyd is the history of our business.”
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Blessed with a commanding voice, Lloyd’s acting career dates back to Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre troupe, of which he was the last surviving member. He was part of its first production — 1937 a modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar on Broadway titled Caesar.
He originally was cast in Welles’ epic Citizen Kane and accompanied the director to Hollywood. When the filmmaker ran into his proverbial budget problems, Lloyd quit the project and returned to New York, later making his screen debut as the villainous spy who fell from the top of the Statue of Liberty in Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur (1942).
Lloyd himself generously offered start-up jobs to many well-known filmmakers, such as Billy Friedkin.
On television, he directed most of Hitchcock’s suspense pieces — winning a Special Mention for Alfred Hitchcock Presents from the Venice Film Festival in 1985 — and starred on the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere.
Lloyd was in his late 60s when he was cast on NBC’s St. Elsewhere as Dr. Daniel Auschlander, a veteran physician who dealt with his own liver cancer diagnosis and chemo. He was with Boston-set hospital drama for its entire six-season run from 1982-88. It wasn’t a ratings hit — never finishing in the year-end Top 30 in a three-network TV universe — but won 13 Emmys among 62 nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series in all of its seasons.
Lloyd also was one of three St. Elsewhere characters who appeared in a Cheers crossover episode, when the St. Eligius docs visited the bar where everybody knows your name. The shows debuted weeks apart on NBC.
Watch Lloyd talking about being cast in St. Elsewhere below, as part of the Television Academy Foundation’s The Interviews series:
During the 1970s, he earned Emmy nominations for the NBC adventure series The Name of the Game as a producer and telefilm Steambath as an EP. His numerous other TV credits range from guesting on the 1950s series Kraft Theatre and One Step Beyond to such popular dramas as Night Gallery, Kojak, Wiseguy, Tales of the Unexpected, an early Modern Family episode, recurring on The Practice and regular roles on the short-lived 1992 NBC comedy Home Fires and UPN’s 1998-2001 sci-fi drama Seven Days.
He also directed for such series as Chevron Theatre, Omnibus, The Adventures of Kit Carson and several TV movies during that genre’s heyday in the 1970s. He also was executive producer of PBS’ Hollywood Television Theatre (1970-78).
Lloyd’s roughly two dozen film roles included Hitchcock’s Gregory Peck-Ingrid Bergman thriller Spellbound (1945), starring opposite comedy legends Buster Keaton and Chaplin in 1952’s Limelight — which the Little Tramp also wrote and directed — Audrey Rose (1977), FM (1978), Get Smart! redux The Nude Bomb (1980), The Age of Innocence (1993) and Trainwreck (2015).
Lloyd led a busy social life in Hollywood — with his friends ranging from Jean Renoir to Buster Keaton to Judd Apatow, who cast him with Amy Schumer in Trainwreck. Of his final screen role, Lloyd later complained, “I appreciated Apatow’s choice of me for his film but was upset he didn’t put me in any of the hot scenes.”
Deadline’s Todd McCarthy wrote an appreciation of Lloyd on the occasion of the actor’s 106th birthday and receiving the Legacy Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association last year.
“With Norman at last taking his final curtain call,” McCarthy wrote, “there truly is no significant actor left who was part of the politically engaged New York theatre of the 1930s, worked with major Hollywood filmmakers whose careers stretched from the silent cinema into the 1960s, was a pioneer in television and always kept his hand in with his first love, the stage.”
Born on November 8, 1914, in Jersey City, NJ, Lloyd began his showbiz career on the New York stage. He made his way to Broadway in 1927 with a replacement role in Crime. He later played Cinna in Mercury Theater’s 1937 production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and would continue his association with the Main Stem and the Bard in with a role in King Lear (1950) and later Measure for Measure, and directing a production of The Taming of the Shrew, both in 1957.
He ultimately would appear in 12 Broadway shows and direct two.
Lloyd also was a regular on the popular NBC radio program Words at War and The Calvacade of America. He later led a 1945 episode of Suspense.
Lloyd’s close friend, Dean Hargrove, himself a legendary television producer, said: “Norman had a great third act, with an annual birthday party until age 105 filled with notables. He was active until the end, steeped in great stories about the early days of Hollywood and New York theater.”
Added Deadline’s Peter Bart: “Norman loved spinning stories of his encounters with Charlie Chaplin and other legendary figures with whom he interacted. I often played tennis with him until he reached 100. If he missed a shot, he would comment, “When I played with Bill Tilden, he would tell me how to improve my backhand. Feel free to do the same.'”
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