R.I.P. Norm Crosby, comedian who always knew the wrong words to say

He performed for Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson and guest starred on Adam-12 three times.

Image: The Everett Collection

Norm Crosby was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1927. After serving in WWII while still a teenager, he went into advertising. Inspired by comedians he saw on The Ed Sullivan Show, Crosby began trying out jokes at local bars and clubs. He soon developed material around the idea of using completely unrelated but similar sounding words in place of the correct ones. These malapropisms, which sounds exactly like the kind of word Norm Crosby would substitute in, became his signature act.

He toured the country and performed on the very shows that inspired him to pursue comedy. Ed Sullivan, who described his guest as "wanted for the cold-blooded murder of the English language," invited Crosby on his show eleven times. But that was nothing compared to the number of appearances Crosby made on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Starting in the 1960s and continuing well into the 1980s, Crosby appeared on the iconic late-night program more than 50 times.

Crosby was also a favorite of Dean Martin, getting laughs on both Martin's variety show and celebrity roasts. Even brands took advantage of his act. In the 1980s, he pitched the "ecumenical" prices of Red Lobster's "shrimp and seafood complications."

Crosby in one of his three Adam-12 appearances

Crosby wore hearing aids his whole adult life after suffering hearing loss during the war. "I was on a sub-chaser in the North Atlantic and the depth charges made a terrific sound, it was very loud and you could feel it through your bones," he said in a 2003 interview. But Crosby was never ashamed and even brought it up on The Tonight Show.

"I remember telling Johnny Carson, on the air, that I had a wonderful new hearing aid," Crosby related. "He asked, 'What kind is it?' And I said, 'About a quarter to eleven.' So, he let me bring this up and make it a topic for discussion in America's living rooms."

In addition to comedy, Norm Crosby guest-starred on classic shows like Adam-12, The Love Boat and L.A. Law. He was 93.

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DDDDDuane 39 months ago
Norm was hilarious...He was all over TV in the 70s and early 80s when I was a kid....
Great that he made it to 93...Seemed like a great guy....
Spiro 39 months ago
I tell that hearing aid joke to this day. Now I know where it came from. Too funny.
Oscar 43 months ago
Norm was the very best at what he did.
Oscar 43 months ago
Loved Norm! He would make my brother and I laugh like hell back in the '60s when he appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show"!
jacko3 44 months ago
.. can remember him as a very funny man ... made word slips - kind of like poking fun - again, Father Time has been working overtime .. GOD Bless Norm's persona....
AgingDisgracefully 44 months ago
Norm's shows usually ended with a standing ovulation.
Love it!!! My dad would've said this!
justjeff 45 months ago
I'm going to re-post the lines MeTV deleted, and if I get banned, then so be it. Am I exercising my First Amendment rights? Youbetcha!

Here's the post from before:

It's nice to share the gift of laughter and to bring a smile to the feces of people everywhere. A good joke will make you laugh so much that you'll have a steer in your eye.
justjeff 45 months ago
I want to go on record to gripe about MeTV's editing and deleting policy for posts. In one of my Norm Crosby malaprop bits, i used a dictionary word for - er - human waste that sounded 'like faces' (if you replace the 'a' with an 'e'.

Now the post has disappeared. Come on, MeTV... this was not an exercise in vulgarity, but rather the same type of play on words that Mr. Crosby used in his routines.

Censorship of this petty nature makes the censor look small and petty as well.

In fact, I'll bet this post will be removed shortly, because it somehow 'violates' MeTV's standards - in other words... they have little to no sense of humor and can't discern between a playful turn on words and straightforward vulgarity! Not cool, MeTV!
justjeff justjeff 45 months ago
and I presume if my name was Saul Lipschitz or Harold Fuchs (REAL last names) MeTV would find those obscene as well.. GRRRRRRR!
Lantern 45 months ago
Wasn't it Norm Crosby in those beer ads from the late 70's (don't remember the brand of beer) in which a guy in a bar would say to him "You can call me Ray/you can call me Jay" and so on?
justjeff Lantern 45 months ago
Not sure if Norm Crosby was in those commercials, but the guy in the bar was Bill Saluga, who became a "one hit wonder" with his "but ya dassn't has to call me Johnson" routine...
UTZAAKE Lantern 45 months ago
The beer brand was Anheuser Busch Natural Light which The Hollywood Reporter's Mike Barnes wrote was "dreadful" in his obituary for Crosby. That character you described was Raymond J. Johnson Jr. who was played by Bill Saluga. Because of his mention of "Ray" and "Jay," all Rays v. Blue Jays baseball games must be called the Bill Saluga Derby. Oh, and you doesn't have to call him Johnson!
justjeff 45 months ago
Even Chico Marx was famous for his twisted [dialect] definitions...

Chico (testifying in court): "That's-a rear elephant" ("That's irrelevant")
As Groucho comes to the Sanity Clause of a contract... Chico: "Ah, you cannot fool-a me! There's no such-a thing as a Sanity Clause!" (Santa Claus)
Oscar justjeff 43 months ago
Well, we know for sure that Harpo didn't say it!
Spiro justjeff 39 months ago
Why a duck?
justjeff 45 months ago
Malaprops, Spoonerisms and other forms of mangling the English language have been around for centuries. Samuel Golwyn and Yogi Berra were famous for their "-isms" that either destroyed the syntax of a sentence or twisted the logic of a statement... all in a most endearing way.

Goldwyn: "An oral agreement is not worth the paper it's printed on."
Goldwyn: "I shoulda stood in bed."
Goldwyn: "Include me out."
Berra: "You can observe a lot by just watching."
Berra: "Take it with a grin of salt."
Berra: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

"Three cheers for our queer old dean!" (rather than "dear old queen," which is a reference to Queen Victoria)
"Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?" (as opposed to "customary to kiss")
"The Lord is a shoving leopard." (instead of "a loving shepherd")
"A blushing crow." ("crushing blow")
CouchPotato19 justjeff 44 months ago
No one seems to find this funny, anymore. Whenever I do one, they all groan and get annoyed. Maybe it's just me. My dad was always doing this with words and phrases, so I guess I learned from the best!
MrsPhilHarris 45 months ago
The character of Slip Mahoney used malapropisms in The Bowery Boys movies.
UTZAAKE MrsPhilHarris 45 months ago
"Curiosity killed the rat."
Oscar MrsPhilHarris 43 months ago
Slip was also very hard to understand.
TheDavBow3 45 months ago
Good ol' Norm! Another classic, '60s heyday person gone. Funny guy! Not many left. Hopefully, a grand long life for him 🙏👍
15inchBlackandWhite 45 months ago
Wow, I had absolutely no idea he was still alive. Had not thought of him in years. He was a funny guy. RIP.
justjeff 45 months ago
Norm Crosby was the consommé performer of malaprops. His reticulation of each word and phrase was performed with great joy and sediment. He extinguished himself amongst his peers for his mastery of the art of pundit and endeared himself to a germination of people.

It was abhorrant that Norm Crosby had a weight with words... Every condiment he made was chock full of wit and porpoise.

(I realize that no one could twist the English language like Norm could, but this is my little homage to him. Rest in Pleats, Norm. You lived a good life and brought a smile to many a faith.)
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justjeff MrsPhilHarris 45 months ago
Forgive me if I preamble on like this. I guess I'm just trying to be acute and emulate Norm a bit. Any moment now, you'll bequest that I retrain from continuing this any fodder...
justjeff MrsPhilHarris 45 months ago
I confess that I've become a little abscessed with this.
justjeff MrsPhilHarris 45 months ago
...but then again, I think you've come to expectorate that from me..
DIGGER1 45 months ago
Here is a 'YOUTUBE' clip of Norm Crosby performing on Jerry Lewis's M.D.A. Telethon in 1997.

Sway DIGGER1 45 months ago
Thanks for posting
DIGGER1 Sway 45 months ago
CouchPotato19 DIGGER1 44 months ago
Only question I have is......was anyone still Jerry Lewis' friend?
DIGGER1 CouchPotato19 44 months ago
Most likely, every one of Jerry's "friends" are all "DECEASED", just like he is now. LMAO!
Oscar CouchPotato19 43 months ago
His dog loved him!
CouchPotato19 Oscar 39 months ago
His dog's name was "Lady!"
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