Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy 100th birthday, Norman Lloyd (and other musings)

American actor Norman Nathan Lloyd is 100 years old today.

You might know him as Dr. Daniel Auschlander [at right] on the 1980s television series St. Elsewhere, which remains my favorite show ever.

He's also had roles in Chaplin films, Hitchcock films and Scorsese films, and if I have to mention the first names of those directors, then that list probably wouldn't impress you anyway. Lloyd was also an actor in a little company called the Mercury Theatre.

In 2000, at the spry age of 85, he co-starred in the live television play Fail Safe, alongside some guys named Clooney, Dreyfuss, Keitel and Dennehy.

If you want to learn more about Lloyd, you can read his own words in his autobiography, Stages of Life in Theatre, Film, and Television. Or check out this 2004 interview with Peter Tonguette at The Film Journal. Oh, and Matthew Sussman directed a documentary about him in 2007. Also, Jeffrey Wells put together a really nice post about Lloyd, full of video and links, on his Hollywood Elsewhere website.

As of today, it appears that Lloyd and Luise Rainer (The Good Earth) are the two most famous centenarian actors on the planet.1

More actors are sneaking up on the 100 milestone, though. Olivia de Havilland is 98. Kirk Douglas (Issur Danielovitch) will turn 98 next month. Maureen O'Hara is 94. Abe Vigoda is 93. Christopher Lee and Betty White are 92.

There are a couple of other amazing men in their 90s, too. I was watching The Right Stuff2 earlier this week and, afterward, I realized that space-age pioneers Chuck Yeager and John Glenn are still with us.

Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier, is 91. And John Herschel Glenn Jr., the first American to orbit the Earth and the only surviving member of the Mercury Seven, is 93.

We should make sure all of the younger generations know who they are and what they did for the country, while they are still around. Maybe that would help avoid embarrassing generation-gap errors like those that occurred when Neil Armstrong died.

1. Here is Wikipedia's list of living centenarians, focusing on individuals who are both 100+ years old and notable for other reasons in their long lives.
2. Besides the obvious things that are always correctly lauded with regard to The Right Stuff — the cinematography, the lead acting, the music, etc. — I would like to mention that Pamela Reed, Barbara Hershey, Veronica Cartwright and Mary Jo Deschanel are absolutely stellar. There are very few movies, then and especially now, that place that much care and focus on supporting roles for women.

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