He was the young actor who moved audiences as Cinna, the poet in Orson Welles’ 1937 theatrical production of Julius Caesar.
He was the cool fascist sympathizer who kept the audience on the edge of their seats when he dangled from the Statue of Liberty in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1942 film “Saboteur”.
And he was the kind Dr. Foreigners on the popular hospital drama “St. Elsewhere.”
His face was recognizable to generations of people. But his name? Consider this: when a filmmaker decided to make a documentary about him, he ended up titling it Who Is Norman Lloyd?
Mr. Lloyd, who died Tuesday at his Los Angeles home at the age of 106, He has had a successful career as an actor, producer and director for over seven decades, working with some of the most iconic names in the industry – even if his own have received little recognition.
His death was confirmed by a longtime friend, producer Dean Hargrove.
In addition to working under Welles and Hitchcock, Mr. Lloyd worked with Charlie Chaplin, Bertolt Brecht, John Houseman and Jean Renoir. He befriended Hitchcock and one of Chaplin’s frequent tennis partners. And he had stories to tell about everyone.
“He is a source of stage and film history that is full of juice at the age of 93,” wrote the New Yorker when “Who Is Norman Lloyd?” was released in 2007.
When Mr. Lloyd spoke, he did so with the kind of delivery that suggested upper crust upbringing and a proper schooling. He happened to be born on November 8, 1914 in Jersey City, New Jersey. His family’s only social climb was moving to Brooklyn. The aristocratic voice came later when he was suggested to take language lessons to clear his accent.
“He sounds like he was born in London,” said a friend, Peter Bart, Variety’s editor-in-chief. “It’s not a nuisance. It’s just what it sounds like. “
Mr. Lloyd began performing at a young age when he performed in front of women’s clubs. In 2007 he told The Star-Ledger of Newark. “Father, get the hammer. There’s a fly on baby’s head – that was my big number, ”he recalled dryly. “So you can imagine what that act was like.”
But the young man was on an actor’s path and eventually began working under Welles at the Mercury Theater in New York. The pay was bad, but it was the Depression, and he was better off than many of the people who crowded the theater in search of a cheap diversion. Mr. Lloyd’s appearance as Cinna in a version of “Julius Caesar” played by Welles in Mussolini’s Italy earned him recognition.
“In many ways, the most electrifying moment in ‘Caesar’ was the brief scene where Cinna the poet is mistaken for one of the conspirators and attacked by the crowd,” wrote Alex Ross in a 2015 article on Welles in The New Yorker.
When Welles moved to Los Angeles in 1940 to make films, young Mr. Lloyd went with him.
Welles’ first film project failed, however, and Mr. Lloyd, who was expecting a baby with his co-actress wife Peggy, decided to look elsewhere for work. Welles’ next project went better: it was “Citizen Kane”.
But while Mr. Lloyd missed the chance to play a role in this classic film, he managed to be cast by Hitchcock in “Saboteur”. His role was big: Fry, a fifth columnist who wanted to attack American targets during World War II.
At the climax of the film, he falls over the edge of the Statue of Liberty torch and dangles as the film’s hero (Robert Cummings) tries to get him to safety by his sleeve. (If a spoiler can be forgiven after all these years, Fry’s fate is less like that of Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, who sit on Mount Rushmore in another Hitchcock film, North by Northwest, than that of King Kong on the Empire State Building.)
Other roles followed, including in Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” (1945), Chaplin’s “Limelight” (1952) and Jean Renoir’s Hollywood film “The Southerner” (1945). But Mr. Lloyd gradually began to turn to production and direction.
During the Hollywood blacklisted period, his work dried up due to his previous links with left-wing actors. He credited Hitchcock with the revitalization of his career by insisting that he hire Mr. Lloyd to produce and direct episodes of his television programs “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour”.
Mr. Lloyd accepted any job he could get almost to the end of his life. He had roles in an episode of Modern Family in 2010 and in the 2015 Judd Apatow film Trainwreck. He continued to spend a lot of time on the tennis court.
Mr. Lloyd “still plays tennis and still follows the serve on the net, which is daunting,” said Mr. Bart in an interview when his friend was well over 90 years old.
In 2014, the year he turned 100, the Los Angeles City Council proclaimed November 8th, his birthday, to be Norman Lloyd Day.
Peggy Lloyd, who was born Margaret Hirsdansky and was married to Mr. Lloyd for 75 years, died in 2011. She and Mr. Lloyd met while starring in a play called “Crime”, directed by Elia Kazan.
Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.
Matthew Sussman, who made the documentary about Mr. Lloyd, said his title came late in the game when he was telling acquaintances what he was working on.
“That would be the question,” he said, “almost every time: ‘Who is Norman Lloyd?'”
Neil Vigdor contributed to the coverage.