Norman Lloyd, 1914-2021
May 12, 2021 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Norman Lloyd, arguably the last surviving significant figure from Hollywood’s golden age, has died. “Who is Norman Lloyd? Well, if you don’t know Norman Lloyd, you should know Norman Lloyd, because he is the history of our industry.” – Karl Malden. Lloyd acted on Broadway and in movies and TV shows for Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Jean Renoir, Charlie Chaplin, Robert Wise, Peter Weir, Martin Scorsese and Judd Apatow. He directed more than 55 TV episodes and movies, and produced many more. He played tennis with Chaplin and Spencer Tracy. Widely beloved in the industry, his annual birthday parties were attended by many friends of all ages, who enjoyed his skills as a raconteur. And he was married for 75 years.

A way-too-short summary of his incredible career:
  • Became a professional performer in 1923.
  • Acted in a television episode on NBC in 1939.
  • A charter member of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater.
  • Followed the Mercury Theater to Hollywood, where Welles planned to film the novel Heart of Darkness. When the studio balked at the project over budgetary concerns, Welles asked his company to stick around while he came up with a replacement project. Lloyd took the advice of another actor in the troupe and went back to New York, since he wasn’t being paid. The actor who provided the advice stayed, and played a role in the replacement project: Citizen Kane.
  • Feature film debut was in Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur (1942). He was the title villain, with a memorable climax atop the Statue of Liberty. Hitchcock used him again for a small part in Spellbound (1945).
  • After more acting and also working behind the camera, his career was caught up in the blacklist, until Hitchcock hired him in 1955 as an associate producer and director on his TV shows Alfred Hitchcock Presents and then The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Lloyd ended up directing more episodes than Hitchcock.
  • Hired for a four-episode story arc on the NBC series St. Elsewhere, he ended up becoming a regular character who appeared in nearly every episode. This is probably his best-known role.
  • Played the headmaster who clashes with Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society (1989).
  • His last role was in Trainwreck (2015), where he had to improvise for the first time.
More reading/viewing:
Excerpt from 2007 documentary Who is Norman Lloyd?
AV Club Random Roles interview (2015)
Norman Lloyd: Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival (2015) - Interviewed by Ben Mankiewicz (this is his introduction and first question; expect TCM to replay the entire episode soon)
Lloyd talks about making Saboteur after a 2011 screening (spoilers for a 79-year-old movie)
Lloyd remembers making Limelight (1952) with Chaplin and Buster Keaton on its 60th anniversary (contains a spoiler, although he maintains otherwise)
Interview clips from the Hollywood Reporter for their series "Creative Til You Die" (2016)
IMDb listing
Wikipedia entry
Todd McCarthy tribute
Hollywood Reporter obit
posted by pmurray63 (27 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

(played Professor Galen in TNG's "The Chase.")
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:40 AM on May 12, 2021 [6 favorites]

I remember him fondly from St Elsewhere but had no idea his career was so long and storied!

posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:46 AM on May 12, 2021

posted by Fukiyama at 11:00 AM on May 12, 2021

posted by holborne at 11:06 AM on May 12, 2021

First saw him in The Paper Chase and St. Elsewhere, but I became quite a fan when I found out about his history. He also made an impact on me when he was in an episode of the '80s revival of The Twilight Zone. I was always happy to see his name on a directing credit when I was watching something, and in interviews, he was really funny.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:07 AM on May 12, 2021

Just an amazing life and career, which I learned about previously on the Blue when we discussed the Random Roles piece, which is terrific, and is from MeFi's own WillHarrisinVa.
posted by martin q blank at 11:25 AM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

posted by suelac at 11:31 AM on May 12, 2021


For St. Elsewhere, and for slowly over the years finding out about his amazing career.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 11:35 AM on May 12, 2021

Dream not of today, Mr. Picard.

posted by Servo5678 at 11:42 AM on May 12, 2021

posted by evilDoug at 12:24 PM on May 12, 2021

Archive of the NYT article
posted by chavenet at 12:26 PM on May 12, 2021

That AV Club interview is spectacular. Not only is the depth of his personal history such that it makes me think of the Laurie Anderson line "When my father died, it was like a whole library burned down" (I suppose for him it would be a whole film vault), he just sounds like he had such a good time doing all of it. He was so wide-eyed and genial. He must have been wonderful to have around. This is really a loss.

posted by dlugoczaj at 12:45 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

posted by Gelatin at 1:10 PM on May 12, 2021


I'll always remember him fondly as a man who loved Dean.
posted by howfar at 2:34 PM on May 12, 2021

The work I've never forgotten: On Hitchcock Presents, Lloyd directed a 1960 installment, “The Man From the South,” [Daily Motion; YouTube Part 1, Part 2] an adaptation of a Roald Dahl short story in which a young gambler (Steve McQueen) makes a bet that his cigarette lighter can work 10 straight times. If it does, he wins a car from Peter Lorre’s character; if it doesn’t, Lorre will chop off McQueen’s finger with a hatchet. (THR obit, the last link of the FPP)
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:58 PM on May 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

“Code Blue. Code Blue...Doctor Auschlander’s dead”
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:21 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

posted by sammyo at 7:06 PM on May 12, 2021

posted by clavdivs at 7:08 PM on May 12, 2021

posted by jabo at 8:46 PM on May 12, 2021

posted by monotreme at 11:16 PM on May 12, 2021


Lloyd lived long enough to outlive the man who wrote his obituary, which is now my life goal.
posted by Kattullus at 11:46 PM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


Norman Lloyd: Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival (2015) - Interviewed by Ben Mankiewicz (this is his introduction and first question; expect TCM to replay the entire episode soon)


Great stories, great storyteller.
posted by fairmettle at 2:14 AM on May 13, 2021

posted by filtergik at 3:13 AM on May 13, 2021

posted by adekllny at 5:53 AM on May 13, 2021

posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 3:57 PM on May 13, 2021

posted by Philofacts at 7:24 AM on May 14, 2021

posted by detachd at 6:21 AM on May 15, 2021

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