98 and counting: Celebrating the life of actor Norman Lloyd

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photo by Harry Medved

It’s rare for me to meet someone exactly twice my age, but as of today, the actor Norman Lloyd qualifies.  Spry, charming and sweetly flirtatious at 98, he’s being celebrated tonight at the Egyptian Theater with a screening of some of the episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents he produced.  And, a cake with the appropriate number of candles.

Breaking into Hollywood and “Hitch’s” inner circle after being cast as the villain in Saboteur in 1941 is only part of his incredible 70-plus year, story which spans the arc of Hollywood history (post-talkies, of course).  When he met Gregory Peck early on in each man’s career, Mr. Lloyd said, he had to confront the reality that while Mr. Peck had the looks of a leading man—he himself would always be a character player.

But what a career he’s had at that: On stage and later radio at Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater.  In the thirties as part of the WPA Living Newspaper Project.  As Dr. Daniel Auschlander on St. Elsewhere.  Mr. Nolan in The Dead Poets Society. A turn on Modern Family last year.  He’s worked with all the greats from Chaplin to Jean Renoir, Scorsese to Peter Weir.

And he attributes his longevity to luck, although his daily tennis habit and a happy, 75-year marriage hasn’t hurt, either.  (His beloved Peggy, herself an actress, passed away last year.)

I talked to Mr. Lloyd about how Hollywood has changed in the digital, 24-7 age–he laments the loss of the days when making a movie meant something, he said.  What a pleasure to meet a man who made it in Hollywood, over and over and over again–and managed to stay a gentleman.

Thursday November 8th, 7:30pm, American Cinematheque.com