This week brings sad news for fans of family drama Gilmore Girls, as actor Edward Herrmann has passed away at the age of 71. Herrmann had been in the ICU of a New York hospital battling cancer throughout December, and died on Wednesday morning. He is survived by his wife, actress Star Herrmann, and his three children.
Herrmann was best known for his role as Richard Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, the critically-acclaimed comedic family drama that first began airing on the WB in 2000. The patriarch of the Gilmore family, Richard could sometimes be pompous and distant, but despite the (frequent) arguments on the show it was always clear that he cared a lot about his family, making him a complex and likeable character.
In a statement made to TVLine, Herrmann’s Gilmore Girls co-star Emily Bishop shared this memory of her time with him.
“We, the Gilmore Girls family, are so terribly sad and somewhat stunned. We only learned about his illness a week or so ago. I got a call from [Edward’s wife] Star Monday night asking if I wanted to come to the hospital to say good-bye. I went yesterday and was able to give Ed love from Lauren [Graham], Alexis [Bledel] and Amy [Sherman-Palladino]… I have so many fond memories of our time together on Gilmore Girls and since, mainly via email. I think everyone who knew or worked with Ed found him to be absolutely delightful… Everything looks a little dim, as if the lights went down.”
In a statement to CBS, Herrmann’s manager Robbie Kass described him as “an accomplished actor… a true gentleman and a scholar, as well as being an incredibly kind and decent man.” Herrmann won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1999 for his guest role in Boston legal drama The Practice, and a Tony Award in 1976 for his role in George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession.
Herrmann was born in Washington D.C. on July 21, 1943 and graduated from Bucknell University and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. His acting career began on stage, and he later went on to draw attention for his role as Franklin D. Roosevelt in the TV movies Eleanor and Franklin and Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years, which first aired in the mid-1970s. He scored Emmy nominations for both films.
Through the ’70s and ’80s Herrmann had a prolific career in both TV and film, starring alongside Robert Redford in The Great Waldo Pepper and facing off against the Frog brothers as head vampire Max in The Lost Boys. Fans of nostalgic ’90s movies may also remember him as Richard Rich Sr. in Macaulay Culkin comedy Richie Rich. He later starred alongside Kirsten Dunst in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Cat’s Meow, and joined the cast of Gilmore Girls in 2000. The show ran for seven seasons, finishing in 2007.
In a statement to the BBC Lauren Graham, who played Richard’s daughter Lorelai on the show, described Herrmann as the “kindest, classiest, most talented man [whose] combination of pure charisma plus his distinctive voice lit up any room he entered.” Herrmann will be fondly remembered by his friends, family and fans.
R.I.P. Edward Kirk Herrmann: July 21st, 1943 – December 31st, 2014