PEBBLE BEACH, CA —Edward Herrmann, the melodious-voiced actor who many on the Central Coast knew as the voice of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, died on Wednesday. He was 71.
Herrmann died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital of brain cancer, his son, Rory Herrmann said. The actor, who had been hospitalized for several weeks, was surrounded by family members including his wife, and his three children, his son said. “He was full of knowledge and kindness and goodness. … He always wanted to share the great and beautiful things in life,” said Rory Herrmann. That included art, music and classic cars.
Organizers of the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance issued a statement reading, “It is with a sad heart but much fondness and many wonderful memories that we note the death of our great friend, Edward Herrmann. Ed was an award-winning actor with an Emmy, a Tony, a Theatre Guild Award, an OBIE Award and several Audie Awards to his credit. But he was best known to us and to many others for his contributions to the car world, including his longtime participation as Master of Ceremonies at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.”
The statement continued, “Ed first joined our Concours team as Master of Ceremonies in 1999, and he continued to lend his magnificent voice and calm presence to our Concours through this past August-his 16th year with us. Along the way he played a major role in celebrating thousands of great cars as well as the people who created and cared for them. Ed had a particular fondness for great American Classics-for Packards, Duesenbergs, Cords and Auburns-but he had most recently fallen in love with and restored and participated in rallies with a 1934 Alvis. We shared an incredible ride together, and we will miss Ed. Our thoughts go out to his wife Star and his whole family.”
The towering actor brought Franklin D. Roosevelt to life in films and documentaries, won a Tony Award and charmed audiences as the dad on “Gilmore Girls.” The actor’s favorite role was playing President Roosevelt, which he did in projects including the TV movies “Eleanor and Franklin” (1976) and its sequel “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years” (1977) and in the 1982 movie musical “Annie.”
Herrmann also provided the voice for FDR in Ken Burns’ documentary series “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” which aired on PBS earlier this year. His urbane tones were heard on a variety of other documentaries and on hundreds of audio books including Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken.” He had recently narrated a documentary on cancer, Rory Herrmann said.
He appeared frequently on the big screen, in major films including “Reds” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and was an acclaimed stage actor whose Tony-winning performance came in 1976 for “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” Television was also a familiar home, with recent appearances on “The Good Wife” and “How I Met Your Mother. His best-known role came on the 2000-07 series “Gilmore Girls,” on which he played the patrician father of a single mother (Lauren Graham). Herrmann, a native of Washington, D.C., graduated from Bucknell University and studied his craft on a Fulbright scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in 1968-69.