|Who is it?||Novelist, Short-story Writer|
|Birth Day||April 05, 1917|
|Birth Place||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Age||103 YEARS OLD|
|Died On||September 23, 1994(1994-09-23) (aged 77)\nLos Angeles, California|
|Pen name||Tarleton Fiske, Will Folke, Nathan Hindin, E. K. Jarvis, Floyd Scriltch, Wilson Kane, John Sheldon, Collier Young but see note under The Todd Dossier in novels.|
|Occupation||Novelist, short-story writer|
|Genre||Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Science fiction|
|Notable works||Psycho, Psycho II, Psycho House, American Gothic, Firebug|
|Spouse||Marion Ruth Holcombe (1940–63; divorced; 1 child) Eleanor Zalisko Alexander (1964–94; his death)|
If Carl Zeidler had not asked Jim Doolittle to manage his campaign, Doolittle would never have contacted me about it. And the only reason Doolittle knew me to begin with was because he read my yarn ("The Cloak") in Unknown. Rattling this chain of circumstances, one may stretch it a bit further. If I had not written a little vampire story called "The Cloak", Carl Zeidler might never have become mayor of Milwaukee.
See also 42nd World Science Fiction Convention
Bloch was born in Chicago, the son of Raphael "Ray" Bloch (1884–1952), a bank cashier, and his wife Stella Loeb (1880–1944), a social worker, both of German Jewish descent. Bloch's family moved to Maywood, a Chicago suburb, when he was five; he lived there until he was ten. He attended the Methodist Church there, despite his parents' Jewish heritage, and attended Emerson Grammar School. In 1925, at eight years of age, living in Maywood, he attended (alone at night) a screening of Lon Chaney, Sr.'s film The Phantom of the Opera (1925). The scene of Chaney removing his mask terrified the young Bloch ("it scared the living hell out of me and I ran all the way home to enjoy the first of about two years of recurrent nightmares"). It also sparked his interest in horror. Bloch was a precocious child and found himself in fourth grade when he was eight. He also obtained a pass into the adult section of the Public Library, where he read omnivorously. Bloch considered himself a budding Artist and worked in pencil sketching and watercolours, but myopia in adolescence seemed to effectively bar art as a career. He had passions for German-made lead toy Soldiers and for silent cinema.
H. P. Lovecraft, a frequent contributor to Weird Tales became one of his favorite Writers. The first of Lovecraft's stories he had read was "Pickman's Model," in Weird Tales for October 1927. Bloch wrote "In school I was forced to squirm my way through the works of Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Lowell and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In "Pickman's Model," the ghouls ate all three. Now that, I decided, was poetic justice." As a teenager, Bloch wrote a fan letter to Lovecraft (1933), asking where he could find copies of earlier stories of Lovecraft's that Bloch had missed. Lovecraft lent them to him. Lovecraft also gave Bloch advice on his early fiction-writing efforts. asking whether Bloch had written any weird work and, if so, whether he might see samples of it. Bloch took up Lovecraft's offer in late April 1933, sending him two short items, "The Gallows" and another work whose title is unknown.
In 1929, Bloch's father Ray Bloch lost his bank job, and the family moved to Milwaukee, where Stella worked at the Milwaukee Jewish Settlement settlement house. Robert attended Washington, then Lincoln High School, where he met lifelong friend Harold Gauer. Gauer was Editor of The Quill, Lincoln's literary magazine, and accepted Bloch's first published short story, a horror story titled "The Thing" (the "thing" of the title was Death). Both Bloch and Gauer graduated from Lincoln in 1934 during the height of the Great Depression. Bloch was involved in the drama department at Lincoln and wrote and performed in school vaudeville skits.
During the 1930s, Bloch was an avid reader of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, which he had discovered at the age of ten in 1927. In the Chicago Northwestern Railroad depot with his parents and aunt Lil, his aunt offered to buy him any magazine he wanted and he picked Weird Tales (Aug 1927 issue) off the newsstand over her shocked protest. He began his readings of the magazine with the first instalment of Otis Adelbert Kline's "The Bride of Osiris" which dealt with a secret Egyptian city called Karneter located beneath Bloch's birth city of Chicago. The Depression came in the early 1930s. He later recalled, in accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the First World Fantasy Convention (1975) how "...times were very hard. Weird Tales cost twenty-five cents in a day when most pulp magazines cost a dime. I remember that meant a lot to me." He went on to relate how he would get up very early on the last day of the month, with twenty-five cents saved from his monthly allowance of one dollar, and would run all the way to a combination tobacco-store-magazine store and buy the new Weird Tales issue, sometimes smuggling it home under his coat if the cover was particularly risque. His parents were not impressed with Hugh Doak Rankin's sexy covers for the magazine, and when the Bloch family moved to Milwaukeee in 1928 young Bloch gradually abandoned his interest. But by the time he had entered high school, he returned to reading Weird Tales during convalescence from flu.
Bloch graduated from high school in June, 1934. He then wrote a story which promptly (six weeks later) sold to Weird Tales. Bloch's first publication in Weird Tales was in its letter-column, with a letter criticising the Conan stories of Robert E. Howard. His first professional sales, at the age of 17 (July 1934), to Weird Tales, were the short stories "The Feast in the Abbey" and "The Secret in the Tomb". "Feast..." appeared first, in the January 1935 issues which actually went on sale November 1, 1934; "Secret in the Tomb" appeared in the May 1935 Weird Tales.
In 1935 Bloch joined a writers' group, The Milwaukee Fictioneers, members of which included Stanley Weinbaum, Ralph Milne Farley and Raymond A. Palmer. Another member of the group was Gustav Marx, who offered Bloch a job writing copy in his advertising firm, also allowing Bloch to write stories in his spare time in the office. Bloch was close friends with C.L. Moore and her husband Henry Kuttner, who visited him in Milwaukee.
During the years of the Depression, Bloch appeared regularly in dramatic productions, writing and performing in his own sketches. Around 1936 he sold some gags to radio comedians Stoopnagle and Budd, and to Roy Atwell. Also in 1936, his tale 'The Grinning Ghoul" was published in Weird Tales (June); "The Opener of the Way" appeared in Weird Tales (Oct); "Mother of Serpents" appeared in the December issue. The December issue also contained Lovecraft's tale "The Haunter of the Dark" in which he killed off young author 'Robert Blake' (see Lovecraft section above).
In 1937, following Lovecraft's death, "The Mannikin" appeared in Weird Tales for April. Weird Tales published "Return to the Sabbath" in July 1938. Bloch's first science fiction story, "The Secret of the Observatory" appeared in Amazing Stories (Aug 1938). Ina profile accompanying this tale, Bloch described himself as "tall, dark, unhandsome" with "all the charm and personality of a swamp adder". He noted that "I hate everything", but reserved particular dislike for "bean soup, red nail Polish, house-cleaning, and optimists".
1939 also saw the publication of "The Strange FLIGHT of Richard Clayton" (Amazing Stories, August) and "The Cloak" (Unknown, March).
A number of Bloch's works have been adapted for audio productions. For details on Stay Tuned for Terror, see 1940s section above.
1941 saw the appearance of the tale "A Good Knight's Work" in Unknown Worlds (Oct). Shortly thereafter, Bloch created the Damon Runyan-esque humorous series character Lefty Feep in the story "Time Wounds All Heels" Fantastic Adventures (April 1942). Around the same time, he began work as an advertising copywriter at the Gustav Marx Advertising Agency, a position he held until 1953. Marx allowed Bloch to write stories in the office in quiet times. Bloch published a total of 23 Lefty Feep stories in Fantastic Adventures, the last one published in 1950, but the bulk appeared during World War II. Feep's character name had actually been coined by Bloch's friend/collaborator Harold Gauer for their unpublished novel In the Land of Sky-Blue Ointments, Bloch also worked for a time in local vaudeville and tried to break into writing for nationally known performers.
Bloch gradually evolved away from Lovecraftian imitations towards a unique style of his own. One of the first distinctly "Blochian" stories was "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper", (Weird Tales, July 1943). The story was Bloch's take on the Jack the Ripper legend, and was filled out with more genuine factual details of the case than many other fictional treatments. It cast the Ripper as an eternal being who must make human sacrifices to extend his immortality. It was adapted for both radio (in Stay Tuned for Terror) and television (as an episode of Thriller in 1961 adapted by Barré Lyndon). Bloch followed up this story with a number of others in a similar vein dealing with half-historic, half-legendary figures such as the Man in the Iron Mask ("Iron Mask", 1944), the Marquis de Sade ("The Skull of the Marquis de Sade", 1945) and Lizzie Borden ("Lizzie Borden Took an Axe...", 1946).
In 1944, Laird Cregar performed Bloch's tale "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" over a coast-to-coast radio network
Towards the end of World War Two, in 1945, Bloch was asked to write 39 15-minute episodes of his own radio horror show called Stay Tuned for Terror. Many of the programs were adaptations of his own pulp stories. (None of the episodes, which were all broadcast, are extant).. The same year he published "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade" (Weird Tales, Sept). August Derleth's Arkham House, Lovecraft's publisher, published Bloch's first collection of short stories, The Opener of the Way, in an edition of 2000 copies, with jacket art by Ronald Clyne. At the same time, his best-known early tale, "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper", received considerable attention through dramatization on radio and reprinting in anthologies. This story, as noted below, involving a Ripper who has found literal immortality through his crimes, has been widely imitated (or plagiarized); Bloch himself would return to the theme (see below).
Notable stories published in 1946 include "Enoch" (Weird Tales, Sept) and Lizzie Borden Took an Axe (Weird Tales, Nov).
Bloch's first novel was published in hardcover - the thriller The Scarf (Dial Press 1947; the Fawcett Gold medal paperback of 1966 features a revised text). It tells the story of a Writer, Daniel Morley, who uses real women as Models for his characters. But as soon as he is done writing the story, he is compelled to murder them, and always the same way: with the maroon scarf he has had since childhood. The story begins in Minneapolis and follows him and his trail of dead bodies to Chicago, New York City, and finally Hollywood, where his hit novel is going to be turned into a movie, and where his self-control may have reached its limit.
In 1948, Bloch was the Guest of Honor at Torcon I, World Science Fiction Convention, Toronto, Canada. In 1952 he published "Lucy Comes to Stay"(Weird Tales, Jan).
After working for 11 years for the Gustav Marx Advertising Agency in Milwaukee, Bloch left in 1953 and moved to Weyauwega, Marion's home town, so she could be close to friends and family. Although she was eventually cured of tuberculosis, she and Bloch divorced in 1963. Bloch's daughter Sally (born 1943) elected to stay with him.
Bloch published three novels in 1954 – Spiderweb, The Kidnapper and The Will to Kill as he endeavored to support his family. That same year he was a weekly guest panellist on the TV quiz show It's a Draw. Shooting Star (1958), a mainstream novel, was published in a double volume with a collection of Bloch's stories titled Terror in the Night. This Crowded Earth (1958) was science fiction.
Bloch won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story for "That Hellbound Train" in 1959, the same year that his sixth novel, Psycho, was published. Bloch had written an earlier short story involving split personalities, "The Real Bad Friend", which appeared in the February 1957 Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, that foreshadowed the 1959 novel Psycho. However, Psycho also has thematic links to the story "Lucy Comes to Stay." Also in 1959, Bloch delivered a lecture titled "Imagination and Modern Social Criticism" at the University of Chicago; this was reprinted in the critical volume The Science Fiction Novel (Advent Publishers). His story 'The Hungry Eye" appeared in Fantastic (May). This was also the year in which, despite having graduated from painting watercolours to oils, he gave up painting completely.
His novels of the second half of the 1960s include Ladies Day/This Crowded Earth (1968)(sf), The Star Stalker (1968) and The Todd Dossier (1969) (the book publication of which bears the byline "Collier Young").
Though Bloch had little involvement with the film version of his novel, which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock from an adapted screenplay by Joseph Stefano, he was to become most famous as its author. Bloch was awarded a special Mystery Writers of America scroll for the novel in 1961.
Bloch's further TV writing in this period included The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (7 episodes, 1962–1965), I Spy (1 episode, 1966), Run for Your Life (1 episode, 1966), and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (1 episode, 1967). He notably penned three original scripts for the original series of Star Trek (1966–67): "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", "Wolf in the Fold" (a Jack the Ripper variant), and "Catspaw".
Following his 1963 divorce from Marion Holcombe, Bloch saw into print two further collections of short stories, Bogey men and Horror-7. In 1964 Bloch married Eleanor Alexander and wrote original screenplays for two movies produced and directed by william Castle, Strait-Jacket (1964) and The Night Walker (1964), along with The Skull (1965).The latter film was based on his short story "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade".
In 1964 Bloch wrote two movies for william Castle – Strait-Jacket and The Night Walker.
Following the 1965 movie The Skull, which was based on a Bloch story but scripted by Milton Subotsky, between 1966 and 1972 Bloch wrote no less than five feature movies for Amicus Productions – The Psychopath, The Deadly Bees, Torture Garden, The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum. The last two films featured stories written by Bloch that were printed first in anthologies he wrote in the 1940s and early 1950s.
1967 saw Bloch issue another collection, The Living Demons, and write the screenplay (with Anthony Marriott) for The Deadly Bees. He also published another classic story of Jack the Ripper, "A Toy for Juliette" in Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions anthology. In 1968 he published a duo of long sf novellas as This Crowded Earth and Ladies'Day. His novel The Star Stalker was published, and Dragons and Nightmares (the first collection of Lefty Feep stories) appeared in hardcover (Mirage Press).
In 1968 Bloch returned to London to do two episodes for the English Hammer Films series Journey to the Unknown for Twentieth Century Fox. One of the episodes, "The Indian Spirit Guide", was included in the American TV movie Journey to Midnight (1968). The other episode was "Girl of My Dreams," co-scripted with Michael J. Bird and based on the eponymous story by Richard Matheson.
In 1969 he was invited to the Second International Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro, March 23–31, along with other science fiction Writers from the US, Britain and Europe.
His numerous novels of the 1970s demonstrate Bloch's thematic range, from science fiction - Sneak Preview (1971) - through horror novels such as the loving Lovecraftian tribute Strange Eons (Whispers Press, 1978) and ' and the non-supernatural mystery There is a Serpent in Eden (1979);
In 1971, Bloch served as President of the Mystery Writers of America, meanwhile publishing the novel Sneak preview, the collection fear Today, Gone Tomorrow, and the short novel It's All in Your Mind. In 1972 he published yet another novel, Night-World, and wrote the screenplay for the Amicus movie Asylum (based on four of his short stories, with a frame narrative). In 1973 Bloch was the Guest of Honor at Torcon II, World Science Fiction Convention, Toronto. 1974 saw the publication of his novel American Gothic, inspired by the true life story of serial killer H.H. Holmes.
In 1975, Bloch won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the First World Fantasy Convention held in Providence, Rhode Island. The award was a bust of H.P. Lovecraft. The occasion of this convention was the first time Bloch actually visited the city of Providence. An audio recording was made of Robert Bloch during that 1975 convention, accessible online at 
In 1976, two records of Bloch recordings of his stories were released by Alternate World recordings - Gravely, Robert Bloch!" and Blood! The Life and Times of jack the Ripper!"(with Harlan Ellison). In 1977, Lester del Rey edited The Best of Robert Bloch for Del Rey books. Two further short story collections appeared - Cold Chills and The King of Terrors.
1979 saw the publication of Bloch's novel There is a Serpent in Eden (alsdo reissued as The Cunning), and two more short story collections, Out of the Mouths of graves and Such Stuff as Screams Are Made Of.
1980 saw the publication of The First World Fantasy Convention: Three Authors Remember (Necronomicon Press), featuring reminiscences of that important event by Bloch, T.E.D. Klein and Fritz Leiber. In 1981, Zebra Books issued the first edition of the Cthulhu Mythos-themed collection Mysteries of the Worm. This item remained scarce until it was reprinted years later in an expanded edition by Chaosium.
In 1982, Bloch published a sequel to the original Psycho (Psycho II - no relation to the film of the same title) and in 1983 he novelised Twilight Zone: The Movie. Night of the Ripper (1984), was another return to one of Bloch's favourite themes, the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888.
Bloch appeared in the documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal (1985) (Produced and directed by Arnold Leibovit).
In 1986, Scream Press published the hardcover omnibus Unholy Trinity, collecting three scarce Bloch novels, The Scarf, The Dead Beat and The Couch. A second retrospective selection of Bloch's nonfiction was published by NESFA Press as Out of My Head.
In 1987, Bloch celebrated his 70th birthday. Underwood-Miller issued the three-volume hardcover set The Selected Stories of Robert Bloch (individual volumes titled Final reckonings, Bitter Ends and Last Rites). When Citadel press reissued this in paperback they incorrectly named it The Collected Stories of Robert Bloch. The same year a collection, Midnight Pleasures appeared from Doubleday, and 'Lost in Time and Space with Lefty Feep (Creatures at Large Press) collected a number of the stories on the Lefty Feep series. The latter was the first of a projected series of three volumes, however the further volumes were never published. In 1988, Tor Books reissued Bloch's scarce second novel, The Kidnapper.'
1989 saw publication of another collection, Fear and Trembling, the thriller novel Lori (later adapted as a standalone graphic novel) and another omnibus of hard-to-find early novels, Screams (containing 'The Will to Kill, Firebug and The Star Stalker.). Randall D. Larson issued The Robert Bloch Companion: Collected Interviews 1969-1986 (Starmont House), together with Robert Bloch (Starmont Reader's Guide No 37), an exhaustive study of Bloch's work, and The Complete Robert Bloch: An Illustrated, Comprehensive Bibliography (Fandom Unlimited Enterprises). Larson's three books were bound in hardcover and distributed by Borgo Press.
Bloch's next novel was The Jekyll Legacy (1990) a collaboration with Andre Norton and a sequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The same year he returned to the Norman Bates 'mythos' with Psycho House (Tor), the third Psycho novel. Again, this novel bears no relation to the movie titled Psycho III. It would prove to be his last published novel.
In February 1991, he was given the Honor of Master of Ceremonies at the first World Horror Convention held in Nashville, Tennessee. Weird Tales issued a special Robert Bloch issue in Spring, including his screenplay for the televised version of his tale "Beetles"". A standalone chapbook of the story "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" was issued in both hardcover and paperback by Pulphouse, and Bloch co-edited with Martin H. Greenberg the original anthology Psycho-Paths (Tor).
In 1992, Bloch celebrated his 75th birthday with a bash at a Los Angeles mystery/horror bookstore which was attended by many sf/horror notables. In 1993, he published his 'unauthorised autobiography', Once Around the Bloch (Tor) and edited the original anthology Monsters in Our Midst.
Bloch died on 23 September 1994 after a long battle with cancer, at the age of 77. in Los Angeles after a writing career lasting 60 years, including more than 30 years in television and film. Bloch survived by seven months the death of another member of the original 'Lovecraft Circle', Frank Belknap Long, who had died in February, 1994.
The comic Aardwolf (No 2, Feb 1995) is a special tribute issue to Bloch. It contains brief tributes to Bloch from Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Julius Schwartz and Peter Straub incorporated within a piece called "Robert Bloch: A Retrospective" compiled by Clifford Lawrence. The first part of the text of Bloch's story 'The Past Master" is also reprinted in this issue.
Bloch continued to published short story collections throughout this period. His Selected Stories (reprinted in paperback with the incorrect title The Complete Stories) appeared in three volumes just prior to his death, although many previously uncollected tales have appeared in volumes published since 1997 (see below). Bloch also contributed the story "Heir Apparent," set in Andre Norton's Witch World, to Tales of the Witch World (Vol. 1), NY: Tor, 1987.
Norman Bates, the main character in Psycho, was very loosely based on two people. First was the real-life serial killer Ed Gein, about whom Bloch later wrote a fictionalized account, "The Shambles of Ed Gein". (The story can be found in Crimes and Punishments: The Lost Bloch, Volume 3). Second, it has been indicated by several people, including Noel Carter (wife of Lin Carter) and Chris Steinbrunner, as well as allegedly by Bloch himself, that Norman Bates was partly based on Calvin Beck, publisher of Castle of Frankenstein. Bloch's basing of the character of Norman Bates on Ed Gein is discussed in the documentary Ed Gein: The Ghoul of Plainfield, which can be found on Disc 2 of the DVD release of 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bloch has also, however, commented that it was the situation itself - a mass murderer living undetected and unsuspected in a typical small town in middle America - rather than Gein himself who sparked Bloch's storyline. He writes: "Thus the real-life murderer was not the role model for my character Norman Bates. Ed Gein didn't own or operate a motel. Ed Gein didn't kill anyone in the shower. Ed Gein wasn't into taxidermy. Ed Gein didn't stuff his mother, keep her body in the house, dress in a drag outfit, or adopt an alternative personality. These were the functions and characteristics of Norman Bates, and Norman Bates didn't exist until I made him up. Out of my own imagination, I add, which is probably the reason so few offer to take showers with me."
The 2012 film Hitchcock tells the story of Alfred Hitchcock's making of the film version of Psycho. Although it mentions Bloch and his novel, however, Bloch himself was not a character in the movie.
The Robert Bloch Award  is presented at the annual Necronomicon convention. Its recipient in 2013 was Editor and scholar S.T. Joshi. The award is in the shape of the Shining Trapezohedron as described in H.P. Lovecraft's tale dedicated to Bloch, The Haunter of the Dark.