Norman Lloyd, Whose Career Spanned 9 Decades, Dies @ 106

Norman Lloyd, considered one of the world's oldest living actors, died Tuesday at his L.A. home at the incredible age of 106.

Lloyd in Saboteur (Image via Universal)

His death, reported by THR, was confirmed by his son, Michael.

Born on November 8, 1914, in Jersey City, New Jersey, Lloyd grew up in Brooklyn, although he would later become associated with his clipped, transatlantic diction.

His career spanned much of the history of both movies and television, but he got his start as a stage actor, working from the early '30s with Eva Le Gallienne at the Civic Repertory Theatre and as a member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. He appeared with Welles in such productions as Julius Caesar on Broadway in 1937.

He appeared on TV in its infancy in the 1939 TV production The Streets of New York and made his feature film debut in Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942). As a villain in the spy thriller, Lloyd's character dangles from the Statue of Liberty, one of the Master of Suspense's most wickedly memorable scenes.

A precipitous fall in Saboteur (GIF via GIPHY)

It was the beginning of a long association with Hitchcock, one that found Lloyd acting in Spellbound (1945) and acting on and directing numerous episodes of TV's Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the '50s and '60s. Most famously, he directed the episode The Man from the South (1960) — here, here — in which a young man played by Steve McQueen bets he can get his cigarette lighter to produce a flame 10 times in a row — or else he will lose a finger to fiendish gambler Peter Lorre.

Lloyd's biggest hit on TV was as the cancer-stricken Dr. Auschlander on St. Elsewhere (1982-1988).

During his distinguished film career, he was directed by both Jean Renoir, in The Southerner (1945), and Charlie Chaplin, in Limelight (1952), had prominent roles in such films as Dead Poets Society (1989) and Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993), and made his final appearance on the big screen in the Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck (2015).

Trainwreck director Judd Apatow wrote of Lloyd on Instagram, "Norman Lloyd loved to tell stories and make people laugh. I was watching an interview with Ethan Hawke a few months ago and he was talking about being a kid shooting Dead Poet’s Society. He said one day Norman walked up to him and said 'pay attention. It isn’t usually like this. This is special.' He said that moment was a giant lesson for him. Every moment with Norman was special. He loved to tell this story about his wife Peggy. She was in bed and was very ill. She said to him 'Norman, how long have we been married?' He replied, 'seventy years.' She said, 'I think we’re going to make it.' I miss him already."

In 2007, he was the subject of the documentary Who Is Norman Lloyd? The film's title captured his mystique as a man known throughout Hollywood, yet who had never become a household name.

Lloyd kept busy until the end of his life, appearing on red carpets and giving talks, and in 1993 published the memoir Stages of Life in Theater, Film and Television.

Upon turning 105, Lloyd spoke to a crowd of well-wishers, saying his acting career was born at age 10. "Thank you all for coming," he said. "I am more deeply moved than my shallow confidence shows. When I was a little boy — I can remember that far back — my mother... used to take me to all the Broadway shows with the biggest stars in our history." One time, a house manager found them in the lobby of the Imperial Theatre and asked what they were doing there. Upon explaining they were there for the matinee, but on the wrong day, the house manager said, "Oh! So you wanna be an actor!" and Lloyd told him, "Yes, sir."

He was preceded in death by his wife, singer and dancer Peggy Craven, to whom he was wed from 1935 until her death in 2011.

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