Character actor Larry Sherman, who also served as publicist for Donald Trump in the 1980s, died Aug. 26 in New York of natural causes. He was 94.
Sherman received degrees in theater and journalism from the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill, kicking around Manhattan with some stage roles and bit parts before segueing into a successful career as a sports journalist. He covered the 1962 Rome Olympics, and wrote for The Herald Tribune and Newsday before landing at the Long Island Press, where he worked for 25 years.
When the newspaper folded in 1977, Sherman moved to Los Angeles to take a job as head writer for the game show “The Joker’s Wild.” When that program went dark, he moved back to New York looking for work. “He began calling on his friends, and it was a guy at the New York Times, I think, who said ‘I hear this guy Trump is looking for a guy to do PR,’” recalled Sherman’s son, Charles Sherman, who runs his own public relations firm based in Los Angeles.
In the early 1980s, when Trump was trying to help launch the challenger U.S. Football league, he hired Sherman to handle publicity for the New Jersey Generals, a position the former sports writer held until the termination of the USFL in 1985.
Sherman describes his father as “a very liberal guy,” and admits he shares that political bent, but has nothing but kind words to say about his father’s former boss. “There is a part of Trump that is so caring, so compassionate and very loyal. I can honestly say we would have lost our house – everything – if it hadn’t been for him. Trump took a liking to my dad, who had no PR experience, and hired him on the spot. They were both hard workers, and got along really well.”
Charles Sherman said he would occasionally run into Trump, “at the Vanity Fair Oscar parties, and once when I went to one of the presidential debates, in San Clemente,” and recalls him saying of his father, “’Great, great, guy! Love Larry. Best PR guy I ever had.’ My dad got Trump his first ‘60 Minutes’ interview, his first Sports Illustrated cover, and a lot of other press.”
After a brief stint with the New York Arrows soccer team Sherman returned to his first love, acting, which had always been something of a sideline. Just out of college, throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, he appeared in stage productions including “The Traitor,” “Maid in the Ozarks,” “The Last Mile,” “Marriage is for Single People” and “I Gotta Get Out.”
“He made the rounds of auditions along with Walter Matthau and Sidney Poitier. Some made it further, but my dad always loved that world,” Charles Sherman recalls.
His film career during that period saw him share screen time with Humphrey Bogart in “Deadline USA,” work as actor Myron McCormick’s double in “The Hustler” and take direction from Alfred Hitchcock as Cary Grant’s cab driver in “North by Northwest,” and also appeared in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “The Hustler.”
In his later years, he had small roles in “Manhattan,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “The Terminal,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “One Fine Day,” “Scenes From a Mall,” “Reversal of Fortune,” and had his final role in “The Comedian” in 2016.
His later television roles included seven years on “The Royal Pains,” and stints on “The Sopranos” and “The Colbert Report.” Sherman became a familiar face during a more than 20-year run as Judge Colin Fraser on the original “Law and Order.”
Sherman is survived by Marion, his wife of 60 years, two children, Charles and Flory, and two grandchildren. Donations in Larry Sherman’s name may be made to the World Jewish Congress.