Panama, Norman 1914-2003

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PANAMA, Norman 1914-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—Born August 13, 1914 (some sources cite birth years between 1913 and 1920), in Chicago, IL; died of complications from Parkinson's disease January 13, 2003, in Los Angeles, CA. Writer, producer, and director. In a thirty-year partnership with Melvin Frank, Panama wrote—and sometimes produced and directed—numerous screenplays, plus assorted stage plays and television scripts. The partnership began in the late 1930s when the pair was hired to write comedy material for the Bob Hope radio series The Pepsodent Show. The team later wrote several screenplays featuring Hope, such as My Favorite Blonde and The Road to Utopia, for which they earned the first of several Academy Award nominations from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. With Norman Krasna, the duo also wrote White Christmas, which starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Panama and Frank penned and produced the popular film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, featuring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, and they wrote, produced, and directed the Danny Kaye film The Court Jester. They also dabbled in writing for the stage, including a musical based on the long-running comic strip "Li'l Abner." In the mid-1960s Panama and Frank went their separate ways, and Panama found other collaborators. With Jerome Chodorov, he wrote A Talent for Murder, which was broadcast as a television movie featuring Laurence Olivier and Angela Lansbury. Altogether, Panama earned five Academy Award nominations as well as several award nominations from the Writers Guild of America. That organization also awarded him a Golden Laurel Award for lifetime achievement in 1984.



Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2003, obituary by Dennis McLellan, p. B19.

New York Times, January 27, 2003, obituary by Rick Lyman, p. A25.

Washington Post, January 28, 2003, p. B7.