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Norman Alden, a character actor who piled up a prodigious number of credits during his five decades in film and television, died July 27 of natural causes at an assisted living facility in Los Angeles, his family reported. He was 87.
Alden appeared in several hundred television episodes, commercials and films (his family put the number at 2,500) but rarely had a regular gig, frequently playing tough guys and authority figures one show and one character at a time. Perhaps his most recognizable role was as Lou the mechanic in a series of AC Delco commercials.
Alden provided the voice of Aquaman in two Super Friends animated series in the 1970s, played outlaw Johnny Ringo in 1961 in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp opposite Hugh O’Brian and was Coach Leroy Fedders on seven episodes of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman in the mid-’70s. His character drowned face-first in a bowl of Mary’s (Louise Lasser‘s) chicken soup.
The native of Fort Worth, Texas, got his start on The Bob Cummings Show in 1957 and would appear in scores of TV series including Honey West, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Fay, My Three Sons, My Favorite Martian, The Big Valley, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rookies, Adam-12, Combat!, Charlie’s Angels, JAG and Batman, where he played one of the Joker’s henchmen.
On film, Alden voiced Sir Kay in Disney’s The Sword in the Stone (1963), was roller derby skater “Horrible” Hank Hopkins in Raquel Welch‘s Kansas City Bomber (1972) and had roles in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), Semi-Tough (1977), Back to the Future (1985), They Live (1988), Ed Wood (1994), Patch Adams (1998) and K-Pax (2001).
Following a tour of duty in Europe during World War II, Alden attended Texas Christian University and worked as a disc jockey at KXOL-AM, where he was the first voice ever heard on the channel when it went live in 1947. He left Fort Worth in his early 20s to go to New York, won Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts and moved to Los Angeles.
Survivors include his children Brent and Ashley, his grandson Zooey and his longtime life partner, Linda Thieben.
A celebration of his life will be held in Los Angeles in August and in Fort Worth in September. The family asks that donations in Alden’s name be made to TCU’s drama department, the department of cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles or the Frostig Center in Pasadena.
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