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Norman Lloyd, Who Got His Acting Start During The New Deal, Dies At 106

Actor Norman Lloyd reflects on his long career at the SAG Foundation Actors Center in Los Angeles in 2015.
Angela Weiss
Getty Images for SAG Foundation
Actor Norman Lloyd reflects on his long career at the SAG Foundation Actors Center in Los Angeles in 2015.

To call an actor a Hollywood legend sounds like hyperbole, but Norman Lloyd really was.

He died Tuesday at his home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, according to his manager, Marion Rosenberg, as quoted by the Associated Press.

Norman Lloyd, born in 1914, got his start performing with the Federal Theatre Project, part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s. It employed hundreds of out of work actors. Lloyd, the son of a Jersey City store manager, soon started acting with Orson Welles at his acclaimed Mercury Theatre.

Then Alfred Hitchcock hired Lloyd to play the creepy title character in his 1942 movie Saboteur.

"The big scene, if I may say so, was my falling off the Statue of Liberty," Lloyd told Los Angeles public radio station KCRW in 2012.

Because Lloyd had long associated with leftists like Orson Welles, he found it hard to get hired during the McCarthy blacklists of the 1950s. Hitchcock helped him out, and got him a behind-the-scenes job producing his popular TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Over Lloyd's nine decades of producing, directing and acting, he appeared on screen with everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Daniel Day-Lewis. Lloyd was directed by some of the greatest names in cinema, including Jean Renoir and Jules Dassin. He appeared in a few Hollywood hits, including Dead Poets Society and Trainwreck — it was his final role at age 100 — and dozens and dozens of TV shows. Murder She Wrote. Modern Family. Star Trek: The Next Generation.

In the hospital drama St. Elsewhere, which ran through most of the 1980s, Lloyd starred as Dr. Daniel Auschlander. The role was supposed to last just a few episodes because Auschlander had cancer — but as Lloyd told the Archives of American Television in 2012, the show decided to keep him around. "And so the character went for six years with the longest remission on record," he chuckled.

Lloyd was also known as a devoted Hollywood husband. He was married to actress Peggy Lloyd for 75 years, until her death at age 98 in 2011.

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Corrected: May 12, 2021 at 10:00 PM MDT
An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Jules Dassin was French. He was American.
Neda Ulaby
Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.