Friday, November 13, 2020

Godspeed Norm Crosby

Norm Crosby, the comic known for his many malapropisms, died on November 7 2020 at the age of 93. The cause was heart failure.

Norm Crosby was born on September 15 1927 in Boston, Massachusetts.  He attended Dorchester High School and then studied advertising illustration at the Massachusetts Institute of Art. Rather than continue his education, he enlisted in the Coast Guard where he served as a radar operator. His hearing would be permanently damaged by depth charges while he was on anti-submarine patrol in the North Atlantic during World War II.

Following the war, Norm Crosby worked in advertising for a women's shoe store chain in the Boston area.  He would eventually become chain's advertising manager. On the side he performed comedy at clubs around New England. In an interview he said that at the time he was doing everybody's material. He found his niche as a comedian when he encountered a club owner who made a malapropism in an offhand comment to him. Norm Crosby then began misusing words in his act. It took time for Mr. Crosby to catch on, but he eventually found himself booked at the Latin Quarter in New York City for 18 weeks. Afterwards he was represented by the William Morris Agency. It was not long before he began appearing on television.

Norm Crosby made his television debut on The Garry Moore Show in 1963. In the Sixties he appeared on such variety shows, game shows, and talk shows as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Perry Como Show, The Jimmy Dean Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, George Jessel's Here Come the Stars, Della, The Joey Bishop Show, It Takes Two, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The David Frost Show, The Dean Martin Show, and The Merv Griffin Show. He was a regular on The Phyllis Diller Show. He guest starred on the musical sitcom That's Life.

In the Seventies he appeared on such variety shows, talk shows, and game shows as The Dean Martin Show, The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, American Bandstand, The Bobby Vinton Show, Celebrity Bowling, Dinah!, and The Hollywood Squares. He was the host of The Comedy Shop. He guest starred on the police drama Adam-12 and the semi-anthology The Love Boat.

In the Eighties he appeared on such variety shows, talk shows, and game shows as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Palace, Lou Rawls Parade of Stars, Thicke of the Night, It's Garry Shandling's Show, and The New Hollywood Squares. He was a regular on the short-lived show The Boys.

In the Nineties, Norm Crosby appeared in the movie The Misery Brothers (1995). He appeared on the shows L.A. Law, Roseanne, The Larry Sanders Show, Alright Already, and Diagnosis Murder. He was a guest voice on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. He appeared in the movies Amore! (1993) and The Misery Brothers (1995).

In the Naughts he guest starred on Arli$$. He was a voice in the animated movies Eight Crazy Nights (2002) and Farce of the Penguins (2006). He appeared in the movie Cougar Club (2007). His last appearance on film was in the movie Grown Ups 2 (2013).

An argument can be made that Norm Crosby was the undisputed master of malapropisms. No one mangled words like Mr. Crosby did. Much of what made his comedy so funny was that his persona, that of a good natured guy next door. On stage, Mr. Crosby was the neighbour or the guy down the block who was always choosing the wrong words. He was definitely one of the best comics to emerge from the mid to late 20th Centuy.

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