Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy 100th Birthday to the Great Norman Lloyd!

It was 100 years ago today that Norman Lloyd was born in  Jersey City, New Jersey. Well known for his appearances in Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942) and Spellbound (1945), Mr. Lloyd is one of our last remaining links to the Golden Age of Film. Having served as a producer (as well as director and occasional star) on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and guest starred on such shows as The United States Steel Hour and G.E. Theatre, he is one of our remaining links to the Golden Age of Television as well. Mr. Lloyd also appeared on various radio shows as well. He is then one of our remaining links to Old Time Radio as well.

Norman Lloyd began his remarkable career when he was very young. He was still a child when he first took the stage in the Twenties as a song and dance performer. He began his acting career as part of Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre. He was only thirteen years old when he made his debut on Broadway in the play Crime in 1927. In the Thirties he appeared on Broadway in productions of Noah and Power before joining Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre. He appeared in the Mercury Theatre's productions of Julius Caesar and The Shoemakers' Holiday on Broadway. The Forties would be a busy time for Norman Lloyd on stage. He appeared in such productions on Broadway as Liberty Jones, Village Green, and Ask My Friend Sandy. His career on stage continued to prosper in the Fifties, during which time Mr. Lloyd appeared in such Broadway productions as King Lear; Madam, Will You Walk; and Measure for Measure. He also directed two plays on Broadway: The Golden Apple and The Taming of the Shrew.

While Norman Lloyd never appeared on Orson Welles's The Mercury Theatre on the Air, he did appear in other radio shows over the years. He appeared in Norman Corwin's radio play "The Undecided Molecule" on Columbia Presents in 1945. He also guest starred on episodes of Columbia Workshop, Suspense, and Listener's Playhouse. He later appeared in several radio plays staged by the California Artists Radio Theatre, including adaptations of Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Major Barbara, and many others.

While Norman Lloyd has worked on both stage and radio, he is better known for his career in film, a career which is still ongoing. He made his movie debut in the short "The Forgotten Man" in 1941, only a year before his historic role as Fry in Alfred Hitchcock's classic Saboteur (1942). He worked with Mr. Hitchcock again in the director's 1945 film Spellbound. Over the years Mr. Lloyd appeared in many films, including The Unseen (1945), A Walk in the Sun (1945), Reign of Terror (1949), the 1951 remake of M, and Limelight (1952). Norman Lloyd would be introduced to new generations of fans in such films as FM (1976), The Nude Bomb (1978), and Dead Poets Society (1989). Mr. Lloyd has continued to appear in films over the years, including the short "Photosynthesis" (2005), as well as the features In Her Shoes (2005) and A Place for Heroes (2014). Next year he will appear in the Judd Apatow film Trainwreck. In addition to acting, Mr. Lloyd also directed one motion picture, A Word to the Wives... from 1955.

As well known as Mr. Lloyd is for his film career, he may be equally well known for his career in television. In fact, Mr. Lloyd appeared on television before he ever appeared in a feature film. In 1939 he appeared in an adaptation of Dion Boucicault’s The Streets of New York that aired on NBC's experimental station W2XBS in New York City on 31 August. He would return to television in the Fifties, although not initially as an actor but as a director. Mr. Lloyd directed episodes of The Adventures of Kit Carson, Chevron Theatre, and Omnibus. It was in 1957 that his friend Alfred Hitchcock brought Norman Lloyd on board his show Alfred Hitchcock Presents as an associate producer. Mr. Lloyd remained with Alfred Hitchock Presents for the rest of its run, becoming the show's producer and later executive producer when it changed to an hour long format as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1962. Mr. Lloyd also directed several episodes of both Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He even occasionally acted in episodes as well, including the classic "Design for Loving".

Norman Lloyd would prove to have an extremely successful career in television on both sides of the camera. He produced such shows as Journey to the Unknown and Tales of the Unexpected, as well as many television movies. Mr. Lloyd also continued to direct television shows after The Alfred Hitchcock Hour left the air, including episodes of Columbo and Tales of the Unexpected, as well as many television movies. Of course, most audiences are probably familiar with Mr. Lloyd from the various roles he has played as an actor in television shows over the years. He may be best known as Dr. Daniel Auschlander on St. Elsewhere, a role he played for the entire run of the show. Mr. Lloyd also played the regular role of Dr. Isaac Mentnor on the short lived sci-fi show Seven Days. Over the years Norman Lloyd guest starred on such shows as One Step Beyond, The Most Deadly Game, Night Gallery, Quincy M.E., The Paper Chase, Wiseguy, Wings, and Modern Family.

Norman Lloyd has had a remarkable career, one that is all the more remarkable in that it is still continuing even as he turns 100. He is an incredible character actor, with a range far greater than most actors, even those from the Golden Age of Film. Over the years he played nearly every sort of role an actor could play. He appeared as one of film's most iconic villains, Fry, in Hitchock's Saboteur. In his second Hitchcock film, Spellbound, he played a role about as far from Fry as one could get, that of mental patient Mr. Garmes. In  A Walk in the Sun he played the rather pessimistic Private Archimbeau. Over the years he appeared in a wide variety of genres of film. From Hitchcock thrillers to war films (A Walk in the Sun) to films noirs (Scene of the Crime) to Westerns (Calamity Jane and Sam Bass) to swashbucklers (The Flame and the Arrow). He also worked with such legendary talents as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Charlie Chaplin. Regardless of what film in which he played or with whom he was working, Mr. Lloyd always delivered (and still does deliver) a great performance.

Of course, it is not enough that Norman Lloyd is a great actor. He also did great work as a producer and director in television as well. Alongside producer Joan Harrison, Norman Lloyd oversaw the day to day operations of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He was involved in everything from the casting of episodes to the hiring of directors to the commission of scripts. Together Miss Harrison and Mr. Lloyd insured that Alfred Hitchcock Presents would be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, anthology shows of all time. The show featured scripts by such writers as Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl, Evan Hunter, and Stirling Silliphant. The show's episodes were directed by such experienced veterans as Robert Stevenson and Don Weiss (not to mention Mr. Hitchcock himself) as well as such newcomers as Robert Altman, William Friedkin, Arthur Hiller and Sydney Pollack. Alfred Hitchcock Presents was truly one of the shining moments in the last days of the Golden Age of Television, and Norman Lloyd was much of the reason it was so great.

Having worked with some of the most legendary figures in film and having worked extensively in television, Norman Lloyd is a rich source of stories of both the Golden Ages of Film and Television. What is more, in interviews he tells these tales with both charm and wit, and with such richness of memory that it is hard to believe the events happened decades ago. What is more, Mr. Lloyd is that most rare thing in Hollywood, a true gentleman. He was married to the same woman, his beloved wife Peggy, for nearly 75 years (until her death in 2011). From those who have worked with him to those who have only met him briefly and casually, one never hears an ill word said about Mr. Lloyd. He is the sort of man who treats everyone with dignity and always has a kind word for them. In the end Norman Lloyd is more than a great talent as an actor, producer, and director. He is more than a centenarian with a incredibly rich memory. He is, quite simply, a truly good man.

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