Norman Lloyd admits he’s taking things easy these days. He currently has only one film waiting for release and now plays just two tennis matches a week.
Still, that’s not bad, considering the veteran actor, producer, and director turns 100, next month!
“People are always asking me for the secret of long life,” said Mr. Lloyd from Los Angeles. “Well, I have no secret and I suspect it’s partly luck. But I do know one thing. You’ve got to stay active as you get older. And tennis is a great way to do that.”
Off the courts, Lloyd appeared in some 40 films and numerous TV shows but was equally comfortable behind the camera as director or in the front office producing.
“Alfred Hitchcock hired me to direct many of his weekly mystery shows,” said Lloyd, who also produced more than 200 episodes between 1957-1965. “I’ve been directing and producing since my early days in theater.”
Lloyd and Hitchcock were no strangers on a train. The pair had worked previously on two films, “Spellbound” (1945) and “Saboteur” (1942).
In “Saboteur,” Lloyd helped create a memorable Hitchcock sequence, staged from the lofty heights of the Statue of Liberty.
“Hitchcock recreated the arm of the Statue from the elbow up to the torch at full scale, on a Universal Studios stage,” said Lloyd.
In a scene with villain Bob Cummings atop of the Statue’s torch platform, Cummings lunges at Lloyd who tumbles over the rail. But Hitchcock wanted the scene in one take, with Lloyd rather than a stuntman.
“I was an accomplished tennis player at the time and quite athletic – not to mention being
young and foolhardy – so I agreed to do a backflip over the rail,” recalled Lloyd, who landed safely on a 14-foot platform covered with mattresses.
On TV, Lloyd was a regular in the groundbreaking ‘80s medical series “St. Elsewhere” playing Dr. Daniel Auschlander in over 130 episodes during the show’s six seasons.
“The show dealt with subjects never discussed before on television,” noted Lloyd. “To my knowledge, it was the first time that AIDS was featured. It also examined issues such as the expense of dialysis for patients.”
Lloyd can also claim one of the longest marriages in show business history – to stage actress Peggy Lloyd, who passed away in 2011.
“A couple of days before she died, she asked how long we had been married,” recalled Lloyd. “I told her 75 years and she said ‘It should last!’ I thought that was charming.”
As his Nov. 8 milestone birthday approaches, Lloyd knows exactly how Peggy would want him to celebrate.
“My tennis friends and I are going to have a big tournament on my 100th birthday,” he said. “Perhaps at that age they may forgive me if I cheat a little.”
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 450 magazines and newspapers.