Edward Herrmann, who played FDR and ‘Gilmore Girls’ patriarch, dies at 71

Actor Edward Herrmann attends the Emmy Awards in New York in 2011.
Actor Edward Herrmann attends the Emmy Awards in New York in 2011.
(Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images)

Edward Herrmann, an Emmy- and Tony-winning actor whose television roles included Franklin D. Roosevelt in “Eleanor and Franklin” and Richard Gilmore on “Gilmore Girls,” and who was celebrated for his performance in “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” on Broadway, has died. He was 71.

He died Wednesday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York after months of treatment for brain cancer, his agent Robyn Stecher said.

Herrmann won an Emmy Award in 1999 for his guest role as attorney Anderson Pearson on “The Practice.” He’d been nominated four times previously, for his performances as FDR in the TV movies “Eleanor and Franklin” (1976) and “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years” (1977) and as Father Joseph McCabe on “St. Elsewhere” in 1986 and 1987.


The actor, who called Roosevelt was one of his favorite roles, also portrayed FDR in the 1982 feature film adaptation of the musical “Annie” and voiced him in Ken Burns’ documentary “The Roosevelts,” which aired on PBS this year.

His Tony Award came in 1976, for his supporting role as the Rev. Samuel Gardner in the George Bernard Shaw play “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.”

“In my career I’ve tried to be what an old performer I knew used to call ‘a proper actor,’” he told the Chicago Tribune in 1995. “He meant someone who knows his craft inside and out. Someone who does odd parts because he doesn’t want to be typecast as a leading man, which he’d find very boring.”

Herrmann also narrated numerous PBS and History channel productions and recorded dozens of audio books, winning an Audie award for his work on a recording of the King James Bible.

Born July 21, 1943, in Washington, Herrmann earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Bucknell University in 1965 and went on to study acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and the Dallas Theater Center.

“My friend Ed Herrmann was the kindest, classiest, most talented man,” actress Lauren Graham, who played his character’s daughter Lorelei on “Gilmore Girls,” posted on Twitter. “It was an honor and a joy to know him, a devastating blow to lose him.”


“Gilmore Girls,” in which Herrmann played the upper-crust Connecticut father and grandfather of the title characters, premiered in 2000 and ran for seven seasons on the WB and CW.

“Edward Herrmann, besides being an accomplished actor, was also a true gentleman and a scholar, as well as being an incredibly kind and decent man. He will be sorely missed,” his agent Robbie Kass said in an email.

The actor also was known among automobile enthusiasts: He hosted the History channel series “Ultimate Autos,” and, for the last 16 years, served as master of ceremonies at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Herrmann is survived by his wife, Star; brother John; son Rory; daughters Ryen and Emma; and a granddaughter, Kass said.

For more news, follow @raablauren on Twitter.