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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

RIP Edward Hermann...

To many in recent generations he was a living reminder of the legacy of the thirty-second U.S, President. 
To others he was the actor who with crystal clarity and expressiveness of voice was much in demand as a narrator of television documentaries and books on recording. He was Edward Herrmann, who died December 31 of brain cancer at the age of 71.

Born in Washington D.C., young Edward studied acting in London under a Fulbright scholarship. He eventually made it to the Broadway stage, winning a Tony Award in 1976 for his role in a revival of George Bernard Shaw's play "Mrs. Warren's Profession." During periods on the Great White Way Herrmann became a regular patron of McSorley's Old Ale House, Manhattan's most venerable tavern. This led to one of the actor's first narration assignments for the 1986 documentary "McSorley's New York" which for nearly a decade was aired on New York public television stations on or around St. Patrick's Day.

That busy year of 1976 also saw Edward Herrmann co-starring with Jane Alexander in the TV movie "Eleanor and Franklin." The pair repeated as the Roosevelts the following year in "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years." In 1982 Herrmann was called on to play FDR again, this time in the theatrical movie version of the musical "Annie." Last year, it was Ken Burns who called on Herrmann one last time to voice the words of Franklin Delano in the PBS miniseries "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History." Both "Annie" and "The Roosevelts" may be found in Merrick Library's DVD collection.

Edward Herrmann did commercials for numerous TV sponsors including Xerox and Dodge Automobiles, the latter with which he had a seven year association. He won an Emmy in 1999 for appearances as attorney Anderson Pearson in the legal drama "The Practice." From 2000 to 2007 Herrmann regularly appeared in the series "Gilmore Girls" as Richard Gilmore, father and grandfather respectively to the two title characters.

In association with the History Channel and the PBS series "American Experience" and "Nova" Edward Herrmann cemented his reputation as a captivating narrator. In a 2010 interview he revealed that his 
audio role model was the British film and stage star Charles Laughton. Assessing Laughton's performance as the Devil in a recording of Bernard Shaw's "Don Juan in Hell," Hermann stated: "Talk about a voice that conveys emotion without a face. Simply the best!" Some might use similar words to salute Edward Herrmann.

In addition to those mentioned, Merrick Library also has the following DVDs that include Mr. Herrmann's talents:

Alzheimer's Disease: Facing the Facts (narrator)
Factory Girl
I Think I Love My Wife
Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces (narrator)

The following books on recording available at the Library feature Edward Herrmann's narrative skills:

The Boys in the Boat - Daniel Brown
The Bully Pulpit - Doris Kearns Goodwin
Einstein: His Life and Universe - Walter Isaacson
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris - David McCullough
Mile 81 - Stephen King
The One Percent Doctrine - Ron Suskind
Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand

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