Edward Herrmann, the stage, TV, and movie actor most remembered for his role as Lorelei Gilmore’s father, Richard Gilmore in the Gilmore Girls died of brain cancer on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014 at the age of 71. Herrmann, a Tony award winner, was taken off life support after a three and a half week hospital stay in the ICU in New York. He was also known for playing Franklin Roosevelt in Emmy nominated TV roles, and his narration work for documentaries, including portraying FDR’s voice for Ken Burns’ PBS series, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, which just aired this past September.
Herrmann’s manager, Robbie Kass has been confirming his death to the press Herrmann’s passing, in his official statement he said, “Edward Herrmann, besides being an accomplished actor, he was also a true gentleman and a scholar, as well as being an incredibly kind and decent man. He will be sorely missed.” His TV daughter, Lauren Graham eulogized him on Twitter writing, “My friend Ed Herrmann was the kindest, classiest, most talented man. It was an honor and a joy to know him, a devastating blow to lose him.”
Herrmann, was born on July, 21, 1943 in Washington, DC but grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. As his manager noted he was a scholar graduating from Bucknell University, and then earning a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He began as a stage actor, appearing on Broadway in the 1970s and winning Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play in 1976 for playing Frank Gardner in George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Coincidentally, his future Gilmore Girls co-star and TV wife Kelly Bishop won that same year a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Sheila in A Chorus Line. He was again nominated for a Tony Award in 1983 for Plenty.
Herrmann was nominated for five Emmy Awards including two for his Role as President Franklin Roosevelt for the TV movies Eleanor and Franklin in 1976 and the next year for Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years. In 2012, he commented that he is often mistaken for winning for his role as FDR, explaining, “I was nominated for Roosevelt, I’ve been nominated four or five times, and everyone thinks I won it for Roosevelt, but no.” Herman was nominated again consecutively in 1986 and 1987 for his guest actor role as Father Joseph McCabe on St. Elsewhere. Herrmann finally won an Emmy Award for guest actor for a role on the practice. Most recently he was guest starring from 2010-2013 on CBS’s The Good Wife, with former Gilmore Girl’s star Matt Czuchry, who played his granddaughter Rory’s boyfriend Logan Huntzberger in Season five to seven.
Herrmann’s most notable film roles, where early on in his career including appearing in The Paper Chase, two with Robert Redford, The Great Waldo Pepper and the Great Gatsby. Herman also appeared in The Betsey with Sir Lawrence Oliver. In the nineties continuing his streak of historical films, Herrmann appeared in Nixon as Nelson Rockefeller. More recently, he appeared in two Leonard DiCaprio movies, The Aviator and the Wolf of Wall Street. Showing a more serious side, Herrmann did narration work for a number of history documentaries on the History Channel, and PBS’s science series Nova. Herrmann’s last role was again portraying Franklin Roosevelt for Ken Burn’s The Roosevelt’s seven part documentary series that aired on PBS this past September.
Of all his roles that brought, him acclaims and awards, he most known and beloved for his role as bow-tie wearing Richard Gilmore on the WB’s Gilmore Girls for seven seasons. Herrmann played Lorelai Gilmore’s father, and Rory’s grandfather, a role that made him well known to a younger generation. The show aired from 2000 to 2007, and there was always talk of a reunion movie, now with Hermann’s death, that would seem an impossibility, as he was so integral to the whole show’s dynamic.
Herrmann was married twice; to screenwriter Leigh Curran in 1978, with whom he had two daughters Ryan and Emma and then again in 1992 to current wife Star Hayner. Hermann also has a stepson Rory Herrmann, a Los Angeles chef. Like his Gilmore Girl’s character Herrmann loved restoring classic cars and even hosted the show Automobiles as part of his work with the History Channel.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian, Israeli and international news, anything from crime to human interest stories and everything in between.