Norman Alden, an instantly recognizable character actor who recurred on TV series including “My Three Sons” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and sported more than 200 credits in film and television, died of natural causes in Los Angeles on July 27. He was 87.
The stocky, gravelly-voiced Alden played working-class types, tough guys and authority figures.
The highlight of a career that spanned almost 50 years was Alden’s performance in director Richard C. Sarafian’s 1965 film “Andy,” but though he shined in the title role as the retarded son of Greek immigrants, the little-seen film did little to alter his career trajectory.
His other appearances on the bigscreen included roles in Jerry Lewis films “The Nutty Professor” and “The Patsy,” Sonny and Cher starrer “Good Times,” “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” “Kansas City Bomber” (he had once skated in roller derby), “Semi-Tough” (he was the football coach), “Back to the Future,” “Ed Wood” (he played Woods’ cameraman), “Patch Adams” and “K-PAX.” In “Back to the Future,” he played Lou Carruthers, owner of a diner in 1955 and of an aerobics center in 1985.
Alden was perhaps most recognizable, however, from his appearances as the mechanic Lou in a series of commercials for AC Delco.
The actor made hundreds of appearances on television. He played Tom Williams on six episodes of “My Three Sons” in 1970; on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” his character, Coach Leroy Fedders, memorably drowned in a bowl of Mary’s chicken soup.
Alden guested on a vast array of series, including “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show,” “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” “Perry Mason,” “The Untouchables,” “Bonanza,” “The Smothers Brothers Show,” “The Mod Squad,” “Kung Fu,” “Gunsmoke,” “Alice,” “Dallas,” “The Rockford Files,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “Falcon Crest” and “Murder, She Wrote.”
Alden also did voicework, essaying Sir Kay in Disney’s 1963 animated feature “The Sword and the Stone” and playing Aquaman on “Superfriends” during the 1970s.
He made his final appearance in 2006 on the Hallmark Channel telepic “Our House.”
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Alden served in WWII and attended Texas Christian U., where he did theater work. He made his first television appearance in 1957 on “The 20th Century Fox Hour.”
He is survived by two children from his marriage, a grandson, and Linda Thieben, his partner of 25 years.