Dec 31, 2014 5:42 PM

Stage, screen actor Edward Herrmann dies at 71

The Associated Press

Edward Herrmann, the towering, melodious-voiced actor who brought Franklin D. Roosevelt to life in films and documentaries, won a Tony Award and charmed audiences as the stuffy dad on TV's "Gilmore Girls," died Wednesday. He was 71.

Herrmann died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital of brain cancer, his son, Rory Herrmann said. The actor, who had been hospitalized for several weeks, was surrounded by family members including his wife, Star, and his three children, his son said.

"He was full of knowledge and kindness and goodness. ... He always wanted to share the great and beautiful things in life," said Rory Herrmann. That included art, music and classic cars.

The 6-foot-5 actor's favorite role was playing President Roosevelt, his son said, which he did in projects including the TV movies "Eleanor and Franklin" (1976) and its sequel "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years" (1977) and in the 1982 movie musical "Annie."

Herrmann also provided the voice for FDR in Ken Burns' documentary series "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," which aired on PBS earlier this year.

His urbane tones were heard on a variety of other documentaries and on hundreds of audio books including Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken." He had recently narrated a documentary on cancer, Rory Herrmann said.

He appeared frequently on the big screen, in major films including "Reds" and "The Wolf of Wall Street," and was an acclaimed stage actor whose Tony-winning performance came in 1976 for a revival of "Mrs. Warren's Profession" opposite Lynn Redgrave.

His other Broadway credits included the original run of "Love Letters" in 1989, "The Deep Blue Sea" with Blythe Danner in 1998 and "Plenty," for which he received a 1983 Tony nomination.

Television was also a familiar home, with recent appearances on "The Good Wife" and "How I Met Your Mother. His best-known role came on the 2000-07 series "Gilmore Girls," on which he portrayed the patrician father of a single mother, played by Lauren Graham.

"My friend Ed Herrmann was the kindest, classiest, most talented man," Graham posted on Twitter. "It was an honor and a joy to know him, a devastating blow to lose him."

Herrmann, a native of Washington, D.C., graduated from Bucknell University and studied his craft on a Fulbright scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in 1968-69.

In a 2004 interview with The Associated Press, he waggishly shared his tips for theater audiences especially those who offer standing ovations even for routine performances.

"Turn off your cellphone, your pagers, don't talk, don't unwrap the candy and DON'T STAND," he said.

Besides his wife and son, Herrmann's survivors include daughters Ryen and Emma. A private funeral was planned, followed by a public memorial early next week, Rory Herrmann said.


AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr in Los Angeles and AP researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York contributed to this report.


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