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Norman Liebmann Papers
WGF-MS-066  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Norman Liebmann Collection consists of produced and unproduced television scripts, feature films, book manuscripts, short stories, and plays written by Liebmann. The highlight of the collection relates to development materials, drawings, notes, correspondence, contracts, synopses, outlines, scripts and press clippings for the television series The Munsters, which Liebman co-developed. In addition, the collection contains jokes, sketches and scripts for late-night and variety luminaries Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Gene Rayburn, Gene Kelly and Johnny Carson and scripts for popular shows like Chico and the Man and Good Times. Additional materials include pitch documents, outlines and scripts for unproduced TV series and films. Additionally, this collection includes unpublished book manuscripts, short stories, and plays.
Background
Norman “Norm” Liebmann spent over 50 years as a comedy writer in the entertainment industry. He was born January 16, 1928 in New York City. His parents were Russian immigrants and owned a pharmacy in New York. Liebmann attended University of Miami, where he pursued a musical career much to his parents’ dismay. Throughout his college career, Liebmann played the saxophone and clarinet in various bands and after he graduated, started playing the saxophone at Miami nightclubs. In search of his musical break, Liebmann moved back to New York City. In this period, Liebmann transitioned from music to writing and began his career writing material for night club performers like Red Buttons. He met and befriended Edward Hass (1923-1994), who was a commercial artist and cartoonist at that time. They would collaborate throughout the 1960s In 1958, Liebmann’s TV break came in writing for Dough Re Mi, a music-based game show hosted by a young Gene Rayburn. In 1960, Liebmann joined the writing team of the ABC Radio show Flair! starring Dick Van Dyke. When Van Dyke moved to LA in 1962 for his titular sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, Liebmann followed shortly thereafter and he and Haas are credited with writing two episodes of the show. Liebmann went onto write for The Bob Newhart Show, which earned him and his co-writers an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy in 1962. Haas & Liebmann developed many television and film ideas together, including the successful CBS Television series, The Munsters. Produced by Universal Television, The Munsters – with its titular family of recognizable monsters – made its series debut in September 1964, the same week as The Addams Family. In total, Haas & Liebmann received credit for writing seven episodes of the show’s two seasons. The idea of a show about a family of monsters circulated around Universal after the 1940s when it was suggested by animator Bob Clampett. Later in the 1960s, writers Allan Burns and Chris Hayward pitched a similar monster family concept. Without knowledge or consent from Burns or Hayward, executives at Universal sought out Norm Liebmann and Ed Haas to develop the idea, eventually bringing on additional writers to flesh out the concept and write episodes. After intervention by the WGA, it was determined that Burns and Hayward would receive credit for the creation of the show while Haas and Liebmann would receive credit for developing the idea into a TV series. The collaboration between Liebmann and Haas ended around 1969 and Liebmann went on to write for popular sitcoms such as Diff’rent Strokes, Chico and the Man, and Good Times. He developed many new series and feature ideas although many went unproduced. Later in his career, Liebmann took to writing books, short stories, and plays such as Melanie In August and An Evening with Quasimodo, in which the main character was played by Dick Gautier off Broadway. Towards the later part of his life Liebmann was active in writing political commentary on online platforms under the username “Firehat.” He passed away December 20, 2010 in Thousand Oaks, CA and is survived by his wife Shirley Liebmann.
Extent
28.5 linear feet, 21 record boxes and 2 archival boxes
Restrictions
The responsibility to secure copyright and publication permission rests with the researcher.
Availability
Available by appointment only. Most materials stored offsite. One week advance notice required for retrieval.