Re: RARA-AVIS: robert bloch based norman bates on woolrich?

From: Richard Moore (
Date: 10 Feb 2008

I've been off line a couple of days and am just catching up with this string. I completely agree with William that there is almost certainly nothing to the Woolrich/Norman Bates. Bloch was a Wisconsin-based writer (making a living mostly as an ad writer) until he moved to Hollywood in 1959. That move, by the way, came well before the movie was released and became a hit. He came after a friend (Samuel Peeples) got him an assignment writing scripts for the syndicated television program "Lockup."

I doubt Bloch ever met Woolrich, although it is barely possible at one of Hans Stefan Santesson's (editor of The Saint Detective Magazine) parties or the Hydra Club (a SF group) as Santesson's guest. Santesson made a big effort to get Woolrich out of his hotel to social gatherings. Woolrich would drink cheap wine from the bottle and get smashed. If anyone came up to compliment him, he snarled them away. Plus Bloch wrote extensively about the creation of Psycho (and in great detail about all of his career) with no mention of Woolrich.

The Nevins biography, which came out in 1988, does mention the Bates/Woolrich similarities and asks "Could Hitchcock's version of Norman Bates have been intended as something of a Woolrich figure?" Nevins proceeds to debunk the speculation on several grounds without totally shutting the door. As William says, I doubt either Bloch or Hitchcock knew anything of Woolrich's relationship to his mother, much less used it as an influence.

Richard Moore

--- In, William Ahearn
<williamahearn@...> wrote:
> --- sonny <sforstater@...> wrote:
> >
> > but psycho and bloch are OT, sorry. i brought it up
> > because of what i'd
> > heard about woolrich and norman
> >
> Having looked into this for my series on Hitchcock, I
> can tell you that Robert Bloch is on the record as
> having based Psycho on newspaper reports of Ed Gein.
> It's one of the reasons that that Psycho is so tame in
> terms of the reality of Ed Gein whose exploits -- such
> as they were -- were not the fodder of family
> newspapers. The real and grisly and despicable story
> of Ed Gein wouldn't come out until years later. Yes,
> Woolrich had a bizarre relationship with his mother.
> But he didn't kill her and stick her in the root
> cellar. And neither did Ed Gein kill his mother
> (Gein's, not Woolrich's). There's nothing to suggest
> that Bloch knew anything of Woolrich's relationship
> with Woolrich's mother. While there may have been any
> number of rumors, Nevins biography of Woolrich, First
> You Dream, Then You Die wasn't even published until
> 1982. So, whether OT or not, I doubt there is anything
> to this story.
> William
> Essays and Ramblings
> <>
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