Norm Crosby, the comedian whose fractured English won him fame as “Mr. Malaprop,” died Saturday at age 93.
He died of heart failure in Los Angeles, his wife, Joan, told The Hollywood Reporter.
The Boston native was a regular on the stand-up comedy circuit in the 1950s, projecting a blue-collar guy-next-door persona that was built on his often shaky grasp of vocabulary — he’d go to the tailor because his pants need an “altercation” or call “catastrophe” a punctuation mark or claim that people who can’t read or write have a problem with “illegitimacy.”
His routine led to frequent appearances on TV talk shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin. He co-starred in Phyllis Diller’s short-lived NBC sitcom in 1968 and appeared on many televised roasts throughout the 1970s and ’80s. From 1978 to 1981, he hosted the syndicated series “The Comedy Shop” featuring appearances by up-and-coming comics.
His everyman persona also led him to become a spokesman for national brands, starring in commercials for Red Lobster and Anheuser-Busch’s Natural Light beer.
In 1988, he starred in Alan Zweibel’s one-season Showtime sitcom “The Boys” with Norman Fell and Allen Garfield. He continued to pop up in TV shows and movies for decades, including cameos in “Love Boat” “L.A. Law,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Arli$$” and the 2013 Adam Sandler film “Grown Ups 2.”
Crosby also served as the longtime co-host of Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon.