Norman Lloyd was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and attended high school and college in New York City. He entered the theatre professionally in 1932 as an apprentice at Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre, where he had a walk-on part in the LeGallienne-Schildkraut revival of Liliom.
He followed this with two years in off-Broadway productions and made his Broadway debut in Noah starring Pierre Fresnay. Following that, he was the leading actor of the Federal Theatre's Living Newspaper, a landmark in the history of American Theatre, appearing in Triple A productions of Plowed Under, Injunction Granted and Power. He then appeared with a Maine stock company, after which he joined with Orson Welles and John Houseman in the formation of the Mercury Theatre, where he starred in Julius Caesar in 1937 and The Shoemaker's Holiday the following year.
He created the role of Johnny Appleseed in the Marc Connelly-Robert Edmond Jones production of Everywhere I Roam. Lloyd's performance was selected as one of the ten best of Broadway that year. He then appeared in the leading role in Irwin Shaw's Quiet City for the Group Theatre. Elia Kazan directed it with music by Aaron Copland.
Two years later, Alfred Hitchcock entered the scene. He brought Lloyd to Hollywood for the title role in Saboteur (1942), which was filmed at Universal Studios. After completing the picture, Lloyd returned to Broadway, where he remained until Paramount brought him back to Hollywood for a role in The Unseen (1945). He remained in the film capital for the next eight years, appearing in Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945), Jean Renoir's The Southerner (1945), Lewis Milestone's A Walk in the Sun (1945), MGM's Scene of the Crime (1949) and The Light Touch (1952), and No Minor Vices (1948), also directed by Lewis Milestone. While he was under contract to MGM as an actor, he appeared in The Green Years (1946), A Letter for Evie (1946) and The Beginning or the End (1947). During this period, Mr. Lloyd appeared in the theatre as Mosca in the highly acclaimed West Coast production of Volpone.
With John Houseman, Mr. Lloyd formed Pelican Productions in Los Angeles. There, T. Edward Hambleton produced the world premiere of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht starring Charles Laughton, under the banner of Pelican Productions.
He was in Charlie Chaplin's Limelight (1952) and appeared in Audrey Rose (1977) as the hypnotist. Mr. Lloyd was associated with Lewis Milestone in a production capacity on Arch of Triumph (1948) and The Red Pony (1949). He played The Fool to Louis Calhern's King Lear in the production of the play in New York.
Lloyd directed the national company of The Cocktail Party, and at the La Jolla Playhouse he directed more than sixteen productions over a period of years.
Returning to New York, he directed five episodes on Lincoln by James Agee for the first season of Omnibus, now regarded as television classics. That same year he co-directed the first production presented by New York's Phoenix Theatre, Madam, Will You Walk, and was director of the musical The Golden Apple, which won the New York Critics’ Award.
Following two more Broadway shows, Lloyd went to Stamford, Connecticut, for the Shakespearean Festival, where he played the role of Lucio in Measure for Measure and directed The Taming of the Shrew.
At the conclusion of the New York production, he returned to Hollywood where, for the next five years, he served as associate producer on television's Alfred Hitchcock Presents, during which time he directed several episodes. When the program went to an hour, Lloyd became a producer of the series and then moved up to executive producer.
He followed this by both producing and directing Universal's Companions in Nightmare (1968), with an all-star cast headed by Melvyn Douglas. He was executive producer of a number of episodes of Journey to the Unknown, a suspense series for Twentieth Century-Fox in England before returning to the United States and his old home at Universal, as producer of the Tony Franciosa series The Name of the Game for the 1969-1970 seasons.
He was producer of The Bravos (1972), an ABC two-hour film starring George Peppard. For ABC Movie of the Weekend he produced What's a Nice Girl Like You...? (1971) by Howard Fast, starring Brenda Vaccaro, Vincent Price, Edmond O'Brien, Roddy McDowall and Jack Warden. He also directed an episode of Columbo starring Peter Falk.
In the enormously successful revival of Major Barbara at the Mark Taper Forum, Mr. Lloyd played the role of Andrew Undershaft.
For the Hollywood Television Theatre at KCET, the public broadcasting station in Los Angeles, Mr. Lloyd starred in The Scarecrow (1972) by Percy MacKaye, playing the role of the devil, Dickon, and produced and directed Awake and Sing (1972) by Clifford Odets. For Hollywood Television Theatre he produced Invitation to a March (1972) by Arthur Laurents, Another Part of the Forest (1972) by Lillian Hellman, Shadow of a Gunman (1972) by Sean O'Casey and directed as well as produced Jean Renoir's Carola (1973).
Mr. Lloyd was appointed executive producer of the Hollywood Television Theatre with the production of Winesburg, Ohio (1973), based on the Sherwood Anderson stories. Bruce Jay Friedman's Steambath (1973) completed the season of five specials produced by Mr. Lloyd.
Conflicts, a season of one-hour plays, was Mr. Lloyd's next assignment for Hollywood Television Theatre, on which he served as executive producer. George Bernard Shaw's Man of Destiny, Me by Gardner McKay, Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy, The Carpenters by Steve Tesich, Alfred Hayes' The Gondola and Double Solitaire by Robert Anderson were the plays Mr. Lloyd selected for Conflicts. He directed The Carpenters (1974) and played a leading role in The Gondola (1973).
He then produced three specials for the Hollywood Television Theatre: The Sty of the Blind Pig (1974) by Phillip Hayes Dean, Nourish the Beast (1974) by Steve Tesich, which he also directed, and The Lady's Not for Burning (1974) by Christopher Fry, starring Richard Chamberlain and Eileen Atkins.
Following that, he produced a season consisting of The Chinese Prime Minister (1974) by Enid Bagnold, starring Dame Judith Anderson, For the Use of the Hall (1975), a comedy by Oliver Hailey starring Barbara Barrie, David Hedison and Susan Anspach, Ladies of the Corridor (1975) by Dorothy Parker and Arnaud d'Usseau starring Cloris Leachman and Requiem for a Nun (1975) by William Faulkner starring Sarah Miles. He also produced and directed Knuckle (1975) by David Hare starring Eileen Brennan and Jack Cassidy.
The 1976 season of the Hollywood Television Theatre, under the aegis of Mr. Lloyd, led off with Julie Harris in The Last of Mrs. Lincoln. It was followed by Andy Griffith and John Houseman in Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author (1976), George Kelly's The Fatal Weakness (1976) directed by Mr. Lloyd and with Eva Marie Saint, a musical play Philemon (1976) by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (The Fantasticks and I Do! I Do!) directed by Mr. Lloyd, and a new play about Ernest Hemingway entitled The Hemingway Play (1976).
Actor (1978), a musical dramatization of the early life of Paul Muni by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee opened in the following season. It starred Herschel Bernardi and Georgia Brown and was produced and directed by Mr. Lloyd. Walter Matthau played a cameo role as Boris Thomashefsky. The Ascent of Mount Fuji (1978), translated from the Russian, was produced and directed by Norman Lloyd. And the Soul Shall Dance (1978) by Wakako Yamauchi, produced by Norman Lloyd and directed by Paul Stanley, was the third production of the season.
Mr. Lloyd appeared with Bette Davis in The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, a mini-series for Universal-NBC, and in the theatrical features FM (1978) and The Nude Bomb (1980) for Universal. For the television series Tales of the Unexpected, Mr. Lloyd produced some six shows for the 1979, 1980 and 1981 seasons.
For six seasons, Mr. Lloyd appeared as Dr. Daniel Auschlander in the popular television series St. Elsewhere. In addition, he made appearances in leading roles in Murder, She Wrote and The Twilight Zone. Mr. Lloyd appeared as the headmaster Mr. Logan in the feature Dead Poets Society (1989) with Robin Williams, directed by Peter Weir for Disney Pictures. Amityville: The Evil Escapes (1989) was a two-hour television film for NBC in which Mr. Lloyd played a leading role. Mr. Lloyd also narrated the twelve-part Bastille under the auspices of the William Benton Broadcast Project of the University of Chicago in 1989.
Mr. Lloyd starred in a four-part Wiseguy for Stephen J. Cannell and co-starred in Shogun Mayeda (1991), a feature film shot in Japan and Yugoslavia, and had guest spots on Civil Wars for ABC and The Human Factor, as well as on Home Fires for Columbia Pictures Television. Mr. Lloyd also co-starred as the lawyer Letterblair in Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence (1993) for Columbia Pictures. In the summer of 1992, Mr. Lloyd was also a guest artist at The Williamstown Theatre Festival, starring in The Will and Bart Show, written by Jim Lehrer of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. He has also guest starred in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, NBC’s Wings and ABC’s The Practice. He starred as a series regular in Seven Days for UPN and had a guest lead in The Song of the Lark (2001) for Mobil Masterpiece Theatre. In 2005 he received stellar notices for his role in Curtis Hanson’s In Her Shoes.
Over the years, Mr. Lloyd has been a frequent guest lecturer at various colleges and universities and has served on the teaching staff of the American Film Institute. The Director's Guild of America published Stages of Life in Theatre, Film and Television, a book by Norman Lloyd.
In 2012 Mr. Lloyd's career was celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival with a sold-out appearance at the Salle Buñuel.