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Herrmann and Dianne Wiest collaborated as directors on the Williamstown Theater Festival in its 1985 offering Not About Heroes, playing Sassoon. Frank Rich praised the performance: "If Mr. Baker's Wilfred is a bit of an uncomplicated, foursquare boy scout and if Mr. Herrmann's stiff-upper-lipped Siegfried at first arouses deja vu, they form a passionate symbiosis as the darker clouds gather in Act II. Both actors also have a natural way with the rhetoric of their characters' respective canons." During 1988, Herrmann appeared in the New York production Julius Caesar as Gaius Cassius Longinus. Herrmann stated he had joined after becoming tired with constantly having to wear a suit in his prior roles and finding Cassius the most complex of the available roles. Frank Rich opinioned that Herrmann was the "liveliest of the leads by far" and that he would be better suited in the role of Brutus. In 1988-89, Herrmann starred with Alec Guinness in the London West End production of A Walk in the Woods. The play debuted at the Comedy Theater in November 1988, and was directed by Ronald Eyre. As the New York Times reported, "Mr. Guinness and Mr. Herrmann share the stage uninterrupted for some two hours. The fictional play is rooted in the real-life relationship between a Soviet diplomat and an American negotiator who broke protocol in 1982 and made a private limited arms control deal while taking a stroll in a forest outside Geneva."
Herrmann was known for his portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the made-for-television movies, Eleanor and Franklin (1976) and Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years (1977) (both of which earned him Best Actor Emmy Award nominations), as well as in the first feature film adaptation of the Broadway musicalAnnie (1982). Reflecting on becoming involved with Eleanor and Franklin, Herrmann reflected, "It was a gift. You never get a script that good. Or a cast that good, or a director that good, or a designer that good, or a sponsor that good. And all on the same project? It was just blessed." Joseph McAuley said of Herrmann's casting, "To a generation growing up watching television and the movies, Edward Herrmann was the personification of FDR. As an actor, he stood head and shoulders above everybody else (literally--he was 6'5") and he was an inspired choice to play the Depression era/World War II president for a generation who never knew the real man who had long since become an historical figure." Todd VanDerWerff wrote that while he found Annie to be a mediocre film, "Herrmann's warm charm as FDR shines through. He's a kind, compassionate fellow, in a film that's all about the power of positive feeling and kindness."
In 1980 Herrmann also starred in an episode of M*A*S*H as an army surgeon suffering from PTSD.
Also he played Max in the 1987 movie The Lost Boys.
He was nominated for a Tony Award for Plenty in 1983 and Emmy Awards in 1986 and 1987 for two guest-starring appearances as Father Joseph McCabe on St. Elsewhere. In 1984, Hermann played Alger Hiss in the PBSdocudramaConcealed Enemies. During a break from filming, Herrmann praised the production: "This is perhaps the most ambitious thing public television has ever done. They were a little nervous about it, because of the cost. But they shouldn't have worried. It smacks of the real thing."
Herrmann appeared in the 1994 television film Don't Drink the Water. Ken Tucker wrote, "In smaller roles, veteran character actors Austin Pendleton, Josef Sommer, and Edward Herrmann nail their lines like the seasoned pros they are." Herrmann portrayed Herman Munster in the Fox made-for-television film Here Come the Munsters, which aired on Halloween in 1995. Herrmann found the script "silly and funny" and wanted to play a clown again, though also admitting a lack of prior involvement with the original The Munsters: "I was way too old. I was out of college. I was going to be an actor. I have always admired Fred, but no, I wasn't swept up in Munstermania at all. I didn't have a lunch box."
In observing the plot of Here Comes the Munsters, Herrmann was reminded of American family values, seeing the production as parodying such beliefs: "In our screenplay, the Munsters arrive here as refugees. We resist attempts to kick us out of the country by a vicious politician who keeps saying, 'America for Americans!'"
David Flint and Nick Smithson positively commented on the accuracy of his likeness. He played Tobias Beecher's father on Oz. Herrmann earned an Emmy in 1999 for his guest appearances on The Practice. Also in 1999, Herrmann appeared as President Fellwick in the television miniseries Atomic Train. Ray Richmond commented that Herrmann "makes a swell U.S. President, reassuring and authoritative".
Herrmann portrayed Norman, a strikingly old Intern on ABC's Grey's Anatomy
From 2000-07, he portrayed Richard Gilmore on The WB's Gilmore Girls. Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino said Herrmann had been the first choice to play the character and came in to read the script despite his agent saying he would not: "We sat there in stunned silence as Ed opened the script and proceeded to read. And just like that, Richard Gilmore was sitting in front of us." The audition had taken place in New York City; casting director Jill Anthony said his audition and that of Kelly Bishop were vastly superior to others trying to procure the same roles. Bishop said she gained a friendship with Herrmann based on their similarities: "We, obviously, were older [than the rest of the cast]. But we were also New York actors, and we connected very well. We always did our crossword puzzles together in the hair-and-makeup room."Alexis Bledel, who portrayed his character's granddaughter, recalled Herrmann's extensive knowledge and habits during breaks from filming: "Ed was so knowledgeable about theater, TV, and film, and what I remember most is how he would share so much of this knowledge. He loved talking about it so we had those long Friday-night dinner scenes where we'd be sitting at a table all day, and he would share so much." Herrmann enjoyed the relationship between his character and that of Bledel, and was disappointed by the series finale. Caryn James assessed that Herrmann and Bishop succeeded in making their characters likeable while Sarah Schweppe wrote that Herrmann "was such a comforting presence on this show."
Herrmann's death was written in via his character Richard in the 2016 revival of Gilmore Girls, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.Lauren Graham, Herrmann's costar on Gilmore Girls, said, "He would have loved this [new series]. His death was just a loss for us personally. It's given the show a new complexity and depth. It's a nice tribute to him." Sherman-Palladino told Entertainment Weekly, "It's safe to say that the death of Richard Gilmore, the death of Ed Herrmann, looms large over everything."Scott Patterson, another costar, agreed with Sherman-Palladino: "[Herrmann's death] left a big void, but Amy honored it beautifully. He's throughout ... these stories. It's a wonderful homage to him as a person and to his character as well. It's nice to have him around." After concluding filming, Bishop said of Herrmann, "There was a space where he was supposed to be, so he certainly was with us, and he's very prevalent in the show so that will make everybody happy I think, who'll miss him, but I'm sorry he couldn't be with us."
In 2011, Herrmann appeared in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, playing a father whose son discovers his previous career. Robert Abele assessed Herrmann and costar Miriam Flynn as giving "aw-shucks performances". In 2012, Herrmann appeared in Treasure Buddies, portraying the film's antagonist. Herrmann took on the role due to the character being an English villain, allowing him to portray an antagonist with an accent, as well as being able to work with animals and make a film for children. The following year, Herrmann had a small role as a doctor in Are You Here. Herrmann's final appearance in a film was The Town That Dreaded Sundown, released in October 2014. Gary Collinson wrote that Herrmann and Veronica Cartwright both offered "solid support, although they are a little underused".
His final work was as narrator for another Burns documentary, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, which aired three months after Herrmann's death. Director Barak Goodman recalled Herrmann collapsing during the first day of his work on the project and explaining his illness of terminal brain cancer to the production crew of the documentary, Goodman furthering that by this point it was clear to Herrmann that he was not going to live despite receiving new forms of treatment: "He was confident he could do this, and felt it [was appropriate to] be his final project." Mary McNamara wrote that Herrmann delivered "a final performance, equal in breathtaking courage and beauty, that embodies precisely what allows Goodman to explore the staggering numbers and many defeats without ever falling to its knees as defeatist."
Herrmann came from a prominent Unitarian family, based in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He became a Roman Catholic as an adult.
Herrmann was married twice and had two daughters, Ryen and Emma. In 1978, he married his longtime girlfriend, screenwriter Leigh Curran. The marriage ended in 1992. Prior to his second marriage, Herrmann's future second wife, Star (Hayner) Roman, filed a paternity suit against him after he fathered a child with her while filming Harry's War (1981). Roman and Herrmann eventually married, and the union lasted from 1994 until his death in 2014. Herrmann had one stepson, Rory Herrmann (née Rory Roman), Star Roman's son from a previous relationship  who, as an adult, changed his last name from Roman to Herrmann in honor of his stepfather. Rory is currently serving as director of culinary operations for Bill Chait's Sprout Restaurant Group in Los Angeles.
In December 2014, it was reported that Edward and Star Herrmann had filed a lawsuit against their accountants seeking $14.5 million that they alleged had been misappropriated. The suit was later dismissed.
^Collins, Glenn (March 20, 1988). "Yo, Brutus! A Bard for the 80's". Mr. Herrmann joined the production because he is tired of being cast in parts where I'm wearing suits, he said, and because Cassius is a big angry part full of intelligence, passion and feeling. He has long wanted to do the role because in my mind Cassius has always been the one to play - the most complex and interesting one.
^Thomas, Kevin (April 12, 2002). "A Mystery Cleverly Revealed". Los Angeles Times. Not every actor resembles his real-life counterpart as well as Herrmann, but Bogdanovich's people are so alive with personality and dimension it doesn't matter.
^"A Family's Rough Ride Through an American Era". New York Times. September 12, 2014. The actors providing the voices include top-drawer talent like Meryl Streep, Edward Herrmann and Paul Giamatti (with the reliable Peter Coyote doing the main narration).