Norman Panama

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Norman Panama
BornApril 21, 1914
DiedJanuary 13, 2003(2003-01-13) (aged 88)
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, film producer

Norman Kaye Panama (April 21, 1914 January 13, 2003) was an American screenwriter, film producer and film director born in Chicago, Illinois. He is known for his partnership with Melvin Frank and their work on films such as Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), White Christmas (1954), and The Court Jester (1956). Without Frank, he directed films such as How to Commit Marriage (1969).


Life and career

Panama met his future collaborator Melvin Frank in 1933 when they were both at the University of Chicago. [1] After graduating, they formed a partnership in 1935 which endured for four decades; first writing for Milton Berle before becoming writers for Bob Hope's radio show and for Groucho Marx. In 1941, they sold their first script to Paramount Pictures, My Favorite Blonde (1942), which starred Hope. [2]

They worked for Paramount for five years where, among others, they wrote Road to Utopia (1946), starring Hope and Bing Crosby, for which they received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. [2] They moved to Columbia Pictures making It Had to Be You (1947) and The Return of October (1948) and also wrote Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) for RKO. [2]

In 1950, they signed a writing, producing and directing deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and made films together as co-writers, co-directors and co-producers. [2] They started with The Reformer and the Redhead (1950) and also made Knock on Wood (1954) and The Court Jester (1956), both with Danny Kaye, with the former earning them another Academy Award nomination. They also co-wrote White Christmas (1954) with Norman Krasna. They wrote a Broadway play together in 1956, later adapted into Li'l Abner (1959), directed by Frank. They received another Academy Award nomination for The Facts of Life (1960) and also worked on The Road to Hong Kong (1962). [2]

He won an Edgar Award for A Talent for Murder (1981), a play he co-wrote with Jerome Chodorov. [3] Panama continued to write and direct through the 1980s. He died in 2003 in Los Angeles, California, aged 88, from complications of Parkinson's disease.

Selected filmography

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  1. Collins, Glenn (1988-10-15). "Melvin Frank, Producer, Director and Writer of Movies, Dies at 75". The New York Times . Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 McCarthy, Todd (October 14, 1988). "Frank Dies After Heart Surgery". Daily Variety . p. 35.
  3. "Mystery Writers Honor 7 With Edgar Awards". The New York Times . 1982-05-12.