Norm Crosby, Comedian Who Had a (Wrong) Way With Words, Dies at 93

Norm Crosby, the comic referred to as the grasp of malaprop as a result of he spoke from his diagram and associated many humorous antidotes, usually to a standing ovulation, died on Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 93.

The trigger was coronary heart failure, his daughter-in-law, Maggie Crosby stated.

Mr. Crosby began telling jokes within the late 1950s, when comedians usually relied on one sort of gag for his or her acts: Don Rickles was the insult comedian, Henny Youngman was the king of the one-liners. As a younger comic in New England, Mr. Crosby experimented with these varieties and extra.

“I was doing everybody’s material,” he stated in an interview with the present enterprise historian Kliph Nesteroff in 2010. “I took from Buddy Hackett, Jan Murray and Red Buttons. Everybody!”

Mr. Crosby developed his personal shtick after he was supplied a job at the favored New York City nightclub the Latin Quarter, in Times Square.

“I was taking jokes from Ed Sullivan every week,” Mr. Crosby stated in an interview for this obituary in 2013. “I couldn’t go to New York and do the stuff I was doing.”

He was attempting to develop new materials when a membership proprietor made an offhand remark about one of many membership’s cabaret dancers. The proprietor, who had given the younger lady a trip, “came into my dressing room, and he said to me, ‘Find out if the girl is staying over or if she communicates,’” Mr. Crosby recalled.

“I said, ‘My God, a lot of people talk like that. Maybe that would be fun.’ So I started the play on words.”

He tried it in Massachusetts, he added, “and the places I worked, unfortunately, people didn’t get the difference.”

Because of the particulars of his Latin Quarter reserving, Mr. Crosby’s routine was not a right away breakthrough with Times Square audiences, both. He began out performing 12-minute filler units between stage acts throughout his weeklong engagement, and his jokes have been largely ignored. “I was on for five minutes before anybody knew I was out there,” he stated.

At the top of the week, a dejected Mr. Crosby packed his luggage and went to choose up his verify from the supervisor, who apologized for the tough project and promised him a higher slot within the present. Once audiences had a probability to get the joke, he was a hit. He stayed at the Latin Quarter for 18 weeks, after which the distinguished William Morris Agency started representing him.

In one commercial, he declared, “I always keep Natural on hand while I watch these athletes perspiring to achieve victory, ’cause these sporting computations make me so dehybernated.”

Mr. Crosby was a frequent participant in Jerry Lewis’s muscular dystrophy telethon, but that was not his only charitable cause: Mr. Crosby, who was hearing-impaired, was the first national chairman of the Council for Better Speech and Hearing, in 1979.

In 1982, his name was, as he might have put it, immobilized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, placed between those of Jack Benny and Red Skelton.

Norman Lawrence Crosby was born on Sept. 15, 1927, in Boston. Known as a class card, he graduated from Dorchester High School and then studied advertising illustration at the Massachusetts School of Art but didn’t graduate, enlisting instead as a radar operator in the Coast Guard.

His hearing was permanently damaged from depth charges that exploded while he was on anti-submarine patrol in the North Atlantic during World War II, although he did not notice hearing problems until long after he had returned home.

After the war, Mr. Crosby worked in advertising for a chain of 40 or so women’s shoe stores in the Boston area and eventually became its advertising manager. In the meantime he dabbled in comedy at small clubs and restaurants in New England, becoming popular in the region before his big opportunity at the Latin Quarter.

He married Joan Foley, a nightclub dancer and former Rockette, in 1967. Besides his wife, survivors include their two sons, Andrew and Daniel, and two grandchildren.

Mr. Crosby continued to perform on cruise ships and in Las Vegas well into his 80s and appeared sporadically on television. He also had small parts in Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups 2” and other movies.

Mr. Crosby was not the only person known for mangling words: So, too, was the 43rd president, George W. Bush. Mr. Bush’s misstatements reminded some people of Mr. Crosby’s malaprops, even though they were not part of a routine.

“Everybody was saying, ‘Hey! He’s doing your act,’” Mr. Crosby said.

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