Norman Lloyd, who was known as the oldest working actor in Hollywood with a career spanning over nine decades, has died. Deadline reports that Lloyd died on May 10 in his sleep at his Los Angeles home, which was confirmed by a family friend. He was 106.
Born November 8, 1914, in Jersey City, New Jersey, Lloyd developed an early love of performing arts after his mother, Sadie Horowitz Perlmutter, placed him in singing and dancing lessons. By the time he was 9, Lloyd was already a professional child performer, having appeared in vaudeville benefits and shows at the local women’s club. After graduating from high school at the age of 15, he briefly pursued a law degree at New York University before dropping out after his sophomore year.
“I imagine I was supposed to become a lawyer or something. But this was the Depression; the lawyers I saw were all driving cabs,” Lloyd once recalled. “So I thought, ‘Well, if I’m going to be badly off anyway, I might as well be badly off in the theater, where you get used to it.”
With that, Lloyd returned to his love of performing at 17 years old by auditioning for the Eva Le Gallienne’s Civic Repertory Theatre in New York City. There, he became the youngest apprentice under the tutelage of prolific poet and novelist, May Sarten, and his resulting education helped him establish a steady presence in the social theater scene of the ’30s. It was during his work with acting collective Theater Of Action where he met fellow company member Peggy Craven, who would become his wife of 75 years.
After working with the Mercury Theater, director Orson Welles aided Lloyd’s initial transition to Hollywood through a never-made film adaptation of the novella Heart Of Darkness, a project that went over budget before entering production. When the film fell through, Lloyd decided to return to New York—a choice that famously cost him a role in Citizen Kane. But it wouldn’t be his downfall; Lloyd went on to build a professional relationship with Alfred Hitchcock, resulting in roles in Saboteur, Spellbound, and associate producer and director roles and Hitchcock’s television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In the ’80s he took on the role of Dr. Daniel Aushchlander in the televised drama St. Elsewhere, a role that evolved from a four-episode run into a mainstay for the remainder of the series. In 1989, Lloyd returned to film to play headmaster Mr. Nolan in Dead Poet’s Society. What followed was a smattering of guest starring TV roles, including The Twilight Zone, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Practice, and Modern Family, to name a few. His last role was in 2015’s Trainwreck, starring Amy Schumer. “I’d been familiar with Judd Apatow’s reputation, but I hadn’t seen his work before he asked me to be in the film,” he told The A.V. Club back in 2015. “I enjoyed it enormously, I must say.”
Lloyd is survived by his daughter, actress Josie Lloyd. While Hollywood mourns one of the hardest working men in the business, those who knew him will undoubtedly miss a devoted family man, tennis lover (a hobby that earned him such opponents as Charlie Chaplin and Spencer Tracy), and a legendary charming spirit. When The A.V. Club’s Will Harris noted to the then-100-year-old legend in a Random Roles interview that his long life must be the product of “good stock,” Lloyd replied, “Oh, it’s good, it’s good. My grandfather always had some whiskey before dinner, and I’ve tried to follow that example.”