Edward Kirk Herrmann
July 21, 1943
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Died||December 31, 2014 (aged 71)|
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, director, writer|
(m. 1978; div. 1992)
Star Hayner Roman
(m. 1993; his death 2014)
Edward Kirk Herrmann (July 21, 1943 – December 31, 2014) was an American actor, director, and writer, best known for his portrayals of Franklin D. Roosevelt on television, Richard Gilmore in Gilmore Girls, Max in The Lost Boys and a ubiquitous narrator for historical programs on The History Channel and in such PBS productions as Nova, and as a spokesman for Dodge automobiles in the 1990s.
Edward Kirk Herrmann was born on July 21, 1943, in Washington, D.C., the son of Jean Eleanor (née O'Connor) and John Anthony Herrmann. Of German and Irish descent, Herrmann grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and graduated from Bucknell University in 1965, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi. He studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art on a Fulbright Fellowship.
Herrmann began his career in theatre. One of the first professional productions he appeared in was the U.S. premiere of Michael Weller's Moonchildren at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., in November 1971. He moved with the show to New York City to make his Broadway debut the following year. Herrmann returned to Broadway in 1976 to portray Frank Gardner in the revival of Mrs. Warren's Profession. For his performance he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
Herrmann and Dianne Wiest collaborated as directors on the Williamstown Theater Festival in its 1985 offering Not About Heroes, playing Sassoon. Frank Rich praised the performance: "If Mr. Baker's Wilfred is a bit of an uncomplicated, foursquare boy scout and if Mr. Herrmann's stiff-upper-lipped Siegfried at first arouses deja vu, they form a passionate symbiosis as the darker clouds gather in Act II. Both actors also have a natural way with the rhetoric of their characters' respective canons." During 1988, Herrmann appeared in the New York production Julius Caesar as Gaius Cassius Longinus. Herrmann stated he had joined after becoming tired with constantly having to wear a suit in his prior roles and finding Cassius the most complex of the available roles. Frank Rich opinioned that Herrmann was the "liveliest of the leads by far" and that he would be better suited in the role of Brutus. In 1988–89, Herrmann starred with Alec Guinness in the London West End production of A Walk in the Woods. The play debuted at the Comedy Theater in November 1988, and was directed by Ronald Eyre. As the New York Times reported, "Mr. Guinness and Mr. Herrmann share the stage uninterrupted for some two hours. The fictional play is rooted in the real-life relationship between a Soviet diplomat and an American negotiator who broke protocol in 1982 and made a private limited arms control deal while taking a stroll in a forest outside Geneva."
Herrmann was known for his portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the made-for-television movies, Eleanor and Franklin (1976) and Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years (1977) (both of which earned him Best Actor Emmy Award nominations), as well as in the first feature film adaptation of the Broadway musical Annie (1982). Reflecting on becoming involved with Eleanor and Franklin, Herrmann reflected, "It was a gift. You never get a script that good. Or a cast that good, or a director that good, or a designer that good, or a sponsor that good. And all on the same project? It was just blessed." Joseph McAuley said of Herrmann's casting, "To a generation growing up watching television and the movies, Edward Herrmann was the personification of FDR. As an actor, he stood head and shoulders above everybody else (literally—he was 6'5") and he was an inspired choice to play the Depression era/World War II president for a generation who never knew the real man who had long since become an historical figure." Emily VanDerWerff wrote that while she found Annie to be a mediocre film, "Herrmann's warm charm as FDR shines through. He's a kind, compassionate fellow, in a film that's all about the power of positive feeling and kindness."
In 1980 Herrmann also starred in an episode of M*A*S*H as an army surgeon suffering from PTSD. Also he played Max in the 1987 movie The Lost Boys. He was nominated for a Tony Award for Plenty in 1983 and Emmy Awards in 1986 and 1987 for two guest-starring appearances as Father Joseph McCabe on St. Elsewhere. In 1984, Hermann played Alger Hiss in the PBS docudrama Concealed Enemies. During a break from filming, Herrmann praised the production: "This is perhaps the most ambitious thing public television has ever done. They were a little nervous about it, because of the cost. But they shouldn't have worried. It smacks of the real thing."
Herrmann appeared in the 1994 television film Don't Drink the Water. Ken Tucker wrote, "In smaller roles, veteran character actors Austin Pendleton, Josef Sommer, and Edward Herrmann nail their lines like the seasoned pros they are." Herrmann portrayed Herman Munster in the Fox made-for-television film Here Come the Munsters, which aired on Halloween in 1995. Herrmann found the script "silly and funny" and wanted to play a clown again, though also admitting a lack of prior involvement with the original The Munsters: "I was way too old. I was out of college. I was going to be an actor. I have always admired Fred, but no, I wasn't swept up in Munstermania at all. I didn't have a lunch box." In observing the plot of Here Comes the Munsters, Herrmann was reminded of American family values, seeing the production as parodying such beliefs: "In our screenplay, the Munsters arrive here as refugees. We resist attempts to kick us out of the country by a vicious politician who keeps saying, 'America for Americans!'" David Flint and Nick Smithson positively commented on the accuracy of his likeness. He played Tobias Beecher's father on Oz. Herrmann earned an Emmy in 1999 for his guest appearances on The Practice. Also in 1999, Herrmann appeared as President Fellwick in the television miniseries Atomic Train. Ray Richmond commented that Herrmann "makes a swell U.S. President, reassuring and authoritative".
Herrmann portrayed Norman, a strikingly old intern, on ABC's Grey's Anatomy. From 2000–07, he portrayed Richard Gilmore on The WB's Gilmore Girls. Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino said Herrmann had been the first choice to play the character and came in to read the script despite his agent saying he would not: "We sat there in stunned silence as Ed opened the script and proceeded to read. And just like that, Richard Gilmore was sitting in front of us." The audition had taken place in New York City; casting director Jill Anthony said his audition and that of Kelly Bishop were vastly superior to others trying to procure the same roles. Bishop said she gained a friendship with Herrmann based on their similarities: "We, obviously, were older [than the rest of the cast]. But we were also New York actors, and we connected very well. We always did our crossword puzzles together in the hair-and-makeup room." Alexis Bledel, who portrayed his character's granddaughter, recalled Herrmann's extensive knowledge and habits during breaks from filming: "Ed was so knowledgeable about theater, TV, and film, and what I remember most is how he would share so much of this knowledge. He loved talking about it so we had those long Friday-night dinner scenes where we'd be sitting at a table all day, and he would share so much." Herrmann enjoyed the relationship between his character and that of Bledel, and was disappointed by the series finale. Caryn James assessed that Herrmann and Bishop succeeded in making their characters likeable while Sarah Schweppe wrote that Herrmann "was such a comforting presence on this show."
Herrmann's death was written in via his character Richard in the 2016 revival of Gilmore Girls, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Lauren Graham, Herrmann's costar on Gilmore Girls, said, "He would have loved this [new series]. His death was just a loss for us personally. It's given the show a new complexity and depth. It's a nice tribute to him." Sherman-Palladino told Entertainment Weekly, "It's safe to say that the death of Richard Gilmore, the death of Ed Herrmann, looms large over everything." Scott Patterson, another costar, agreed with Sherman-Palladino: "[Herrmann's death] left a big void, but Amy honored it beautifully. He's throughout … these stories. It's a wonderful homage to him as a person and to his character as well. It's nice to have him around." After concluding filming, Bishop said of Herrmann, "There was a space where he was supposed to be, so he certainly was with us, and he's very prevalent in the show so that will make everybody happy I think, who'll miss him, but I'm sorry he couldn't be with us."
Herrmann's film career began in the mid-1970s, playing supporting roles including Robert Redford's partner in The Great Waldo Pepper, a law student in The Paper Chase, the idle, piano-playing Klipspringer in The Great Gatsby and opposite Laurence Olivier in The Betsy (1978). He again portrayed President Roosevelt in Annie.
Herrmann played the lead in the 1979 Kieth Merrill movie, Take Down, in the role as the high-school English teacher turned wrestling coach. Among Herrmann's better known roles are as the title character in another Kieth Merrill film, Harry's War (1981), the philandering husband of Goldie Hawn's character in Overboard, Reverend Michael Hill in Disney's The North Avenue Irregulars, one of the characters in the film-within-a-film in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, and as Max, the mild-mannered head vampire in The Lost Boys. In 1993, Hermann appeared in Born Yesterday. He was offered praise for the role, Vincent Canby citing him as one of the four actors heading "the excellent supporting cast", and Malcolm Johnson writing Herrmann and Fred Dalton Thompson had the "most convincing performances". Herrmann appeared in the following year's Foreign Student, released on July 29, 1994. Kevin Thomas commented, "Edward Herrmann, so often a fine actor, emerges as a caricature of the tweedy, pipe-smoking professor". Herrmann portrayed Nelson Rockefeller in the 1995 film Nixon. Herrmann appeared in the 1998 film Better Living, a priest who becomes a family counselor. Oliver Jones wrote that Herrmann was in "a rare comic form" in the role.
Herrmann also had a supporting role as William Randolph Hearst in the 2001 film The Cat's Meow, starring Kirsten Dunst as Marion Davies. A. O. Scott praised Herrmann as performing "with remarkable emotional agility" while Kevin Thomas noted the resemblance Herrmann had to Hearst as being better than some of his costars. Herrmann had a small role as Joseph Breen in the 2004 film The Aviator, being assessed by Rich Drees as joining several actors in making "memorable moments" and cited by Roger Friedman of joining other featured actors in creating "lovely cameos". In March 2007, Herrmann had a supporting role in I Think I Love My Wife. Kirk Honeycutt lamented Herrmann, along with costars Chris Rock and Steve Buscemi, as character actors "wasted on such lightweight roles."
In 2011, Herrmann appeared in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, playing a father whose son discovers his previous career. Robert Abele assessed Herrmann and costar Miriam Flynn as giving "aw-shucks performances". In 2012, Herrmann appeared in Treasure Buddies, portraying the film's antagonist. Herrmann took on the role due to the character being an English villain, allowing him to portray an antagonist with an accent, as well as being able to work with animals and make a film for children. The following year, Herrmann had a small role as a doctor in Are You Here. Herrmann's final appearance in a film was The Town That Dreaded Sundown, released in October 2014. Gary Collinson wrote that Herrmann and Veronica Cartwright both offered "solid support, although they are a little underused".
Herrmann was known for his voluminous voice work for The History Channel and various PBS specials, including hosting a revival of Frank Capra's Why We Fight, and made appearances and did voiceovers in Dodge commercials from 1992 to 2001, and Rayovac batteries in the same timeframe. His voice work includes dozens of audiobooks, for which he won several Audie awards. He played Gutman in Blackstone Audio's Grammy-nominated dramatization of The Maltese Falcon and played Cauchon in Blackstone's audio version of Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan. Herrmann provided the narration for the 2010 non-fiction book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand, Josh Schwartz praising Herrmann as doing "a great job", and Susan Rife assessing his narration as "urgent".
After his well-received portrayal of J. Alden Weir in the play My Dearest Anna at the Wilton Playshop in Wilton, Connecticut, he was a special guest of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their Ring Christmas Bells holiday concert in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 11–14, 2008. He reprised his role of Franklin Roosevelt in 2014, providing the voice of F.D.R. in Ken Burns' PBS series, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. Herrmann received praise, Neil Genzlinger noting him as among the "top-drawer talent" of the voiceover cast.
His final work was as narrator for another Burns documentary, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, which aired three months after Herrmann's death. Director Barak Goodman recalled Herrmann collapsing during the first day of his work on the project and explaining his illness of terminal brain cancer to the production crew of the documentary, Goodman furthering that by this point it was clear to Herrmann that he was not going to live despite receiving new forms of treatment: "He was confident he could do this, and felt it [was appropriate to] be his final project." Mary McNamara wrote that Herrmann delivered "a final performance, equal in breathtaking courage and beauty, that embodies precisely what allows Goodman to explore the staggering numbers and many defeats without ever falling to its knees as defeatist."
Herrmann came from a prominent Methodist family, based in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He became a Roman Catholic as an adult.
Herrmann was married twice and had two daughters, Ryen and Emma. In 1978, he married his longtime girlfriend, screenwriter Leigh Curran. The marriage ended in 1992. Prior to his second marriage, Herrmann's future second wife, Star (Hayner) Roman, filed a paternity suit against him after he fathered a child with her while filming Harry's War (1981). Roman and Herrmann eventually married, and the union lasted from 1994 until his death in 2014. Herrmann had one stepson, Rory Herrmann (né Rory Roman), Star Roman's son from a previous relationship  who, as an adult, changed his last name from Roman to Herrmann in honor of his stepfather. Rory is currently serving as director of culinary operations for Bill Chait's Sprout Restaurant Group in Los Angeles.
Herrmann was a well-known automotive enthusiast and restored classic automobiles. He was a regular master of ceremonies for the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and hosted the television show Automobiles on The History Channel. He owned and restored several classics of his own, including a 1929 Auburn 8-90 Boattail Speedster and a 1934 Alvis Speed 20.
In December 2014, it was reported that Edward and Star Herrmann had filed a lawsuit against their accountants seeking $14.5 million that they alleged had been misappropriated. The suit was later dismissed.
|1973||The Paper Chase||Thomas Craig Anderson|
|The Day of the Dolphin||Mike|
|1974||The Great Gatsby||Klipspringer|
|1975||The Great Waldo Pepper||Ezra Stiles|
|1978||The Betsy||Dan Weyman|
|Brass Target||Col. Walter Gilchrist|
|1979||Take Down||Ed Branish|
|The North Avenue Irregulars||Rev. Michael Hill|
|1981||Harry's War||Harry Johnson|
|1982||Death Valley||Paul Stanton|
|A Little Sex||Tommy|
|Annie||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|1984||Mrs. Soffel||Warden Peter Soffel|
|1985||The Purple Rose of Cairo||Henry|
|The Man with One Red Shoe||Brown|
|Compromising Positions||Bob Singer|
|1986||Laughter in the Dark|
|1987||The Lost Boys||Max|
|Overboard||Grant Stayton III|
|1988||Big Business||Graham Sherbourne|
|1993||Born Yesterday||Ed Devery|
|My Boyfriend's Back||Mr. Dingle|
|1994||Foreign Student||Zachary 'Zach' Gilmore|
|Richie Rich||Richard Rich, Sr.|
|1997||Critical Care||Robert Payne|
|A Civil Action||Uncredited|
|1999||Walking Across Egypt||Reverend Vernon|
|2001||Double Take||Charles Allsworth|
|The Cat's Meow||William Randolph Hearst|
|2002||The Emperor's Club||Headmaster Woodbridge|
|2003||Intolerable Cruelty||Rex Rexroth|
|2004||Welcome to Mooseport||Avery Hightower||Uncredited|
|The Aviator||Joseph Breen|
|2005||Ape to Man||Narrator||Direct-to-video documentary|
|2006||Relative Strangers||Doug Clayton|
|Factory Girl||James Townsend|
|2007||I Think I Love My Wife||Mr. Landis|
|2009||The Skeptic||Dr. Shepard|
|The Six Wives of Henry Lefay||Goodenough|
|2010||The Surge: The Untold Story||Narrator||Documentary short|
|2011||Son of Morning||Thomas|
|Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star||Jeremiah Larson|
|Redemption: For Robbing the Dead||Governor Dawson|
|2012||Price Check||Jack Bennington|
|Treasure Buddies||Philip Wellington||Direct-to-video|
|Christmas Oranges||Mr. Crampton|
|Heaven's Door||Nate Christensen|
|Enduring Legacy||Charles Francis Adams||Voice, Short|
|2013||Are You Here||Dr. Vincent|
|The Wolf of Wall Street||Stratton Oakmont Commercial||Voice|
|2014||The Town That Dreaded Sundown||Reverend Cartwright|
|2015||Coach of the Year||Bill Ford|
|1975||Beacon Hill||Richard Palmer||11 episodes|
|Valley Forge||Folsom||Television film|
|1976||Eleanor and Franklin||Franklin D. Roosevelt, age 20–50||TV miniseries
|1977||Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years||Television film|
|A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story||Lou Gehrig|
|1979||Portrait of a Stripper||Frank Andrews|
|Freedom Road||Stephen Holms|
|3 by Cheever||Kip Lawton||TV miniseries
|1980||M*A*S*H||Capt. Steven J. Newsome||Episode: "Heal Thyself"|
|1981||The Private History of a Campaign That Failed||The Stranger||Television film|
|Dear Liar||George Bernard Shaw|
|1982||The Electric Grandmother||Father|
|The Gift of Life||Dr. Quinn|
|1983||Freedom to Speak||TV miniseries
|Memorial Day||Ned Larwin||Television film|
|1984, 1986||St. Elsewhere||Priest / Father Joseph McCabe||4 episodes|
|1984, 1991||American Playhouse||Alger Hiss / English Professor||Episodes: "Concealed Enemies" (4) and "The End of a Sentence"|
|1986||Murrow||Fred Friendly||Television film|
|1987–1989||The Lawrenceville Stories||The Headmaster||TV miniseries
|1987||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Dr. Maxwell Stoddard / Litton||Episode: "The Mole"|
|1988||Hothouse||Woods||Episode: "The Actress"|
|1990||So Proudly We Hail||James Wagner||Television film|
|1991||The General Motors Playwrights Theater||Ben Cunningham||Episode: "The Last Act Is a Solo"|
|Sweet Poison||Henry||Television film|
|Fire in the Dark||Robert|
|1993||A Foreign Field||Ralph|
|1994||Don't Drink the Water||Mr. Kilroy|
|1995||The Face on the Milk Carton||Frank Jessmon|
|Here Come the Munsters||Herman Munster|
|Wings||Y.M. Burg||Episode: "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wrong"|
|1995, 1999, 2009||Law & Order||Drew Seely / Mr. Mosbeck / Frederic Matson||3 episodes|
|1996||Soul of the Game||Branch Rickey||Television film|
|A Season in Purgatory||Dr. Shugrue||TV miniseries
|What Love Sees||Morton Treadway||Television film|
|Homicide: Life on the Street||Thomas Pandolfi||Episode: "M.E., Myself and I"|
|Doomsday Virus||President||TV miniseries
|1997–1998, 2001||The Practice||Anderson Pearson||10 episodes|
|1997||Biography||Narrator||Episode: "F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great American Dreamer"|
|Liberty! The American Revolution||TV miniseries
|The Fifties||TV miniseries documentary
|1998||Frank Lloyd Wright||Documentary television film|
|Saint Maybe||Doug Bedloe||Television film|
|1999||Atomic Train||President Fellwick||TV miniseries
|Vendetta||D.A. Luzenberg||Television film|
|The Korean War: Fire and Ice||Narrator||TV miniseries documentary|
|Niagara: A History of the Falls||Documentary television film|
|1999–2002||Save Our History||Host/Narrator||Documentary series
|1999–2005||History's Lost & Found||Narrator||Documentary series
|2000||Horror in the East||Documentary television film|
|Battle History of the U.S. Navy||TV miniseries documentary
|2000–2001, 2003||Oz||Harrison Beecher||6 episodes|
|2000–2007||Gilmore Girls||Richard Gilmore||86 episodes|
|2001||James Dean||Raymond Massey||Television film|
|In Search of Christmas||Host/Narrator|
|2002||Antarctica: A Frozen History||Narrator||Documentary television film|
|The World Trade Center: Rise and Fall of an American Icon|
|Rise and Fall of the Spartans||TV miniseries documentary
|2003||The Louisiana Purchase||Documentary television film|
|Crossing Jordan||Captain Thomas Malden||Episode: "Pandora's Trunk: Part 2"|
|Teddy Roosevelt: An American Lion||Narrator||Documentary television film|
|Modern Marvels||Documentary series
|Mavericks, Miracles and Medicine||TV miniseries documentary
|Russia, Land of the Tsars|
|Nostradamus: 500 Years Later||Documentary television film|
|The Day They Died|
|Stalin: Man of Steel|
|First Invasion: The War of 1812|
|Countdown to Armageddon|
|2005||Beyond the Da Vinci Code|
|The Presidents||Documentary series
|The French Revolution||Documentary television film|
|FDR: A Presidency Revealed|
|Giganto: The Real King Kong|
|Decoding the Past||Documentary television film series
Episode: "Mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle"
|Tom Goes to the Mayor||Benjamin Kaplan (voice)||Episode: "Porcelain Birds"|
|The Templar Code: Crusade of Secrecy||Narrator||Documentary television film|
|UFO Files||Episode: "Beyond the War of the Worlds"|
|Bible Battles||Television special documentary|
|2006||The Ten Commandments||TV miniseries
|Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces||Documentary television film|
|Violent Earth: New England's Killer Hurricane|
|Mayan Doomsday Prophecy|
|Desperate Crossing: The True Story of the Mayflower|
|Eighty Acres of Hell|
|2007||Banned from the Bible II|
|The States||Documentary series
|Titanic's Achilles Heel||Documentary television film|
|The Revolution||Documentary series
|Columbus: The Lost Voyage||Documentary television film|
|Grey's Anatomy||Dr. Norman Shales||3 episodes|
|Andrew Jackson||Narrator||Documentary television film|
|How the Earth Was Made||Documentary television special|
|2008||30 Rock||Walter||Episode: "210"|
|2009||Hatching Pete||Principal Fred Daly||Television film|
|2010||Hold at All Costs: The Story of the Battle of Outpost Harry||Narrator||Documentary television film|
|2010–2013||The Good Wife||Lionel Deerfield||6 episodes|
|2011||Better with You||Judge||Episode: "Better with the Baby"|
|A Christmas Wish||Les McCallum||Television film|
|Drop Dead Diva||Reverend Phillips||Episode: "Ah, Men"|
|The Christmas Pageant||Garrett Clark||Television film|
|Wonder Woman||Senator Warren||Unaired television pilot|
|2012, 2016||American Dad!||Old Man (voice) / Councilman (voice)||2 episodes|
|2012||Harry's Law||Judge Lester Babcock||3 episodes|
|2013||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Mr. Vogel||Episode: "In Vino Veritas"|
|How I Met Your Mother||Reverend Lowell||Episode: "Knight Vision"|
|2014||Black Box||Dr. Reynaud||2 episodes|
|The Roosevelts: An Intimate History||Franklin D. Roosevelt (voice)||TV miniseries documentary
|2015||Perception||Jack Pierce||Episode: "Brainstorm"|
|Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies||Narrator||TV miniseries documentary
|2004||Men of Valor||Narrator|
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Mr. Herrmann joined the production because he is tired of being cast in parts where I'm wearing suits, he said, and because Cassius is a big angry part full of intelligence, passion and feeling. He has long wanted to do the role because in my mind Cassius has always been the one to play - the most complex and interesting one.
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Not every actor resembles his real-life counterpart as well as Herrmann, but Bogdanovich's people are so alive with personality and dimension it doesn't matter.
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The actors providing the voices include top-drawer talent like Meryl Streep, Edward Herrmann and Paul Giamatti (with the reliable Peter Coyote doing the main narration).
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