Norman Panama (1914-2003) was a writer, director and producer whose long collaboration with Melvin Frank resulted in a string of memorable film credits that include The Road to Utopia, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and White Christmas.
Panama and Frank produced and co-wrote the book for the 1956 Broadway musical Li’l Abner, based on the popular Al Capp comic strip; they also produced the 1959 film version, which Frank directed. Although most associated with comedies, the duo also wrote (with Norman Krasna) the popular Crosby and Fred Astaire musical classic White Christmas, and co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced Above and Beyond.
Panama directed and co-wrote the final Hope and Crosby “Road” picture, The Road to Hong Kong, in 1962. He also directed Hope and Jackie Gleason in How to Commit a Marriage, and Dan Rowan and Dick Martin in The Maltese Bippy.
Panama’s last film as a director was the 1976 Elliot Gould and Diane Keaton romantic comedy I Will, I Will… For Now, which he co-wrote with a new partner, Albert E Lewin, with whom he teamed on various television projects.
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