Norm Crosby, the Borscht Belt comedian who was known for his frequent malapropisms, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 93.
His wife told the Hollywood Reporter he died of heart failure. Crosby was a frequent talkshow guest, first appearing on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in 1964 and going on to guest more than 50 times.
His specialty was malaprops — words that sound correct but are completely wrong.
“He might describe a major league ballclub struggling with controversy as ‘riddled with distinction.’ When he goes to a tailor, it’s because his pants need ‘an altercation,’ When people can’t read or write, you get a problem with ‘illegitimacy.,’” the Los Angeles Times wrote about him.
His many other talkshow appearances included “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” A guest star on several series, his appearances included “Roseanne,” “The Love Boat,” “L.A. Law” and “The Larry Sanders Show.”
More recently, he worked with Adam Sandler, appearing in “Grownups 2” as a Kmart employee and provided a voice for the Hanukah movie “8 Crazy Nights.”
He was a fixture on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts in the 1970s and early ’80s, including George Burns and Redd Foxx. Crosby co-starred on “The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show” in 1968, and hosted a syndicated series “The Comedy Shop” from 1978 through 1981, featuring up and coming and veteran comedians.
Born in Boston, he started out doing standup on the Borscht Belt circuit in the 1950s.
He appeared on commercials for Anheuser-Busch Natural Light beer, and competed on gameshows including “Liar’s Club” and “Hollywood Squares.”
For many years, he co-hosted the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.
He is survived by his wife Joan, two sons and two grandchildren.