Wednesday, May 12, 2021

November 8, 1914, to
May 11, 2021. Amazing.

Norman Lloyd finally exited stage left yesterday, in his sleep, after 106 years and six months on this planet. An amazing lifetime. I wrote just a little bit about him on his 100th birthday in 2014. I mentioned his Hollywood working relationships with Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese. 

Lloyd's obituary in Variety nicely summarizes the many highlights of his career as an actor, director and producer. It notes tidbits such as "Lloyd was hand-picked by Alfred Hitchcock to play the title character and villain in 1942’s 'Saboteur.'" (To take that part, though, Lloyd had to pass on a role in his friend Welles' little project, Citizen Kane.)

As you might imagine, this first act of his career and those famous associations gave Lloyd a tremendous well of stories from which to draw in later years, while working with new generations of Hollywood talent.

And so Lloyd went on to work with Robin Williams, Daniel Day-Lewis, George Clooney, Cameron Diaz, Amy Schumer and so many others. If you include his TV work, he is literally the entirety of the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" database.

Of course, I was one of many who came to know him through his six years as Dr. Daniel Auschlander on the TV series St. Elsewhere in the 1980s. On that show, he worked alongside Ed Flanders, William Daniels, Bonnie Bartlett, Ed Begley Jr. and up-and-coming actors like Denzel Washington, Mark Harmon, Bruce Greenwood and David Morse.

Lloyd's character wasn't supposed to stick around for all six seasons of the show. Another Variety article states that, "Originally, the character was to have died in episode six of Season 1, but Lloyd proved so good in the role and became such an integral part of the MTM Productions show that producers could not let him go."

Auschlander did eventually die — in the very last episode.

In a scene late in that final episode of St. Elsewhere, minutes before the famous snow globe moment, the character of Dr. Donald Westphall (played by Flanders) talks to the assembled hospital staff about Auschlander's passing. He says,
"There was a time when Daniel didn't exist, and that time has come again. And I think that we should be glad that we lived in the time he did."
That sentiment now applies to Norman Lloyd. 

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