Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Norman Lloyd -- 100 Years and 3 days old today!

A milestone among milestones happened over the weekend on Saturday, November 8th for one of the entertainment world's most talented men. The brilliant, erudite, tennis-playing and wonderfully long-lived actor-producer-director Norman Lloyd turned 100 years old -- read a great article about it by clicking here! -- and he's still going strong.  What an American treasure he is!  From his start in show business as a child musical performer to his current status as genius emeritus and the world's oldest living actor, New Jersey-born Norman Lloyd has worked alongside the most creative minds in stage, motion pictures and television throughout his well over eight-decade career.

Lloyd has always been a great collaborator.  From his days collaborating with Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater troupe on stage and on radio to his frequent work both in front of the camera and behind the camera with Alfred Hitchcock, Norman Lloyd has always worked with the best. For a true appreciation of Lloyd's vast experience in all branches of the business, be sure to take a look at his extensive listing on Film Reference which includes the best list of his stage work plus his other accomplishments; click here to access.  We also highly recommend taking a look at his IMDb listing which details his various talents; click here to access.  It's impossible to overestimate Norman Lloyd's contributions to show business; here is another excellent biography -- click here to access -- on Mr. Lloyd from Turner Classic Movies when he was a special guest at the 2013 TCM Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Students of television will particularly appreciate Norman Lloyd's work in our favorite medium.  Interestingly enough it was as a director and not actor that Lloyd first made his mark on the small screen, with work beginning in the early 1950s on series such as Chevron Theatre and most impressively with a five-part life of Abraham Lincoln on Omnibus in 1953.

A couple of years later he began to make acting appearances on TV, and in 1956 he started a long association behind-the-scenes as both producer, executive producer and director with Alfred Hitchcock on both Alfred Hitchcock Presents -- 184 episodes! -- and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour -- 44 episodes which lasted until 1965.  Would it be surprising to learn that he also acted on a handful of the episodes?  Not unusual at all for this master of all creative trades.

Among the many certifiably classic episodes he collaborated on during his Hitchcock tenure probably the most memorable is the 1964 hour "The Jar".  Based on a Ray Bradbury short story, "The Jar" is a seriously disturbing story of a weird carnival exhibit that exerts a mystical attraction over the various inhabitants of a small Southern town. Once seen, never forgotten, truly mesmerizing.  The performances Lloyd coaxed out of the talented cast -- Pat Buttram, Colin Wilcox, William Marshall, George Lindsey, James Best, Billy Barty, Slim Pickens, Jane Darwell -- are first class.  If you've only seen Pat Buttram trying to sell trinkets to Oliver Douglas on Green Acres, you will not believe the brilliant work he does in "The Jar".  There are at least two excellent examinations of the long-lasting aftereffects of watching this episode; there's a great appreciation by Jack Seabrook on the bare bones ezine available by clicking here, and another terrific one by Miguela Holt y Roybal available by clicking here.  Both highly recommended!

 Seeing is believing, of course, and you've got to see "The Jar" -- here, now:

TV addicts will also lovingly remember Norman Lloyd's role as Dr. Daniel Auschlander on the long-running -- 132 episodes over six seasons -- medical drama St. Elsewhere, beginning in 1982.

In 2012 the ABC morning news program did a salute to St. Elsewhere with a reunion of many of the cast members, including Norman Lloyd:

In 2007 when Lloyd was a mere spring chicken of  93 the documentary director Matthew Sussman produced the fascinating film Who is Norman Lloyd?  Click here for the movie's website and watch the trailer now:

Another wonderful source for getting to know Norman Lloyd is his set of interviews from the Archive of American Television.  Over the course of three hours -- though it would take many times that many to fully capture Lloyd's awesomeness -- Lloyd gives unprecedented insight into his long career.  You can access all parts by clicking here!  You can also check out YouTube for a wide assortment of videos of appearances by Lloyd at various venues talking about his life, work and acquaintances. You will soon see that Norman Lloyd is and always has been a delightful raconteur with keen perceptions into what makes the creative world so endlessly fascinating to those both inside and outside of it.  Variety did a great 100th Birthday tribute article to him, click here to read it.  And as befits any favorite of The Flaming Nose, Lloyd sealed his place in our hearts by appearing in Star Trek: The Next Generation in the episode "The Chase".

Happy Birthday, Norman Lloyd!

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