Robert Bloch: “The Clown At Midnight”

Robert Bloch and Steve Vertlieb

By Steve Vertlieb: Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous, and enduringly popular motion picture was his celebrated 1960 production of Psycho, based upon the novel by frequent Hitchcock television collaborator, Robert Bloch.

Robert Bloch has been inducted into the Rondo Awards “Monster Kid” Hall of Fame for his lifetime of literary achievements.

Born April 5, 1917, and died September 23, 1994, his contributions to literature, film, television, and popular culture are incalculable.

“The Clown at Midnight” at The Thunder Child is the story of my twenty-five year friendship with the acclaimed writer, a Rondo Award nominated remembrance of a complex, remarkable man, and our affectionate relationship.

Robert Bloch was one of the founding fathers of classic horror, fantasy, and science fiction whose prolific prose thrilled and influenced the popular genre, its writers, and readers, for much of the twentieth century. An early member of “The Lovecraft Circle,” a group of both aspiring and established writers of “Weird Fiction” assembled by Howard Phillips Lovecraft during the early 1930’s, Bloch became one of the most celebrated authors of that popular literary genre during the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s, culminating in the publication of his controversial novel concerning a boy, his mother, and a particularly seedy motel.

When Alfred Hitchcock purchased his novel and released Psycho with Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh in 1960, Bloch became one of the most sought after authors and screen writers in Hollywood. His numerous contributions to the acclaimed television anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents are among the best of the director’s classic suspense series, while his legendary scripts, adaptations and teleplays for Boris Karloff’s Thriller series for NBC are among the most bone chilling, frightening, and horrifying screen presentations in television history.

He also famously penned several classic episodes of NBC’s original Star Trek series for producer Gene Roddenberry, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, “Wolf in the Fold” (another Jack the Ripper variant), and “Catspaw”. Writers Stephen King, Richard Matheson, and Harlan Ellison have written lovingly and profusely spoken of their own literary debt to Robert Bloch. Bob was, for me, even more significantly, a profoundly singular mentor and cherished personal friend for a quarter century. This is the story of that unforgettable relationship: “The Clown at Midnight”.

4 thoughts on “Robert Bloch: “The Clown At Midnight”

  1. It is fitting that his urn, at the Westwood Cemetery, is in the shape of a book.

  2. Bloch also wrote for fanzines. In 1962, Advent published Bloch’s The Eighth Stage of Fandom: Selections from 25 years of fan writing, edited by Earl Kemp, introduction by Wilson Tucker. 176 pages, including index.

  3. John King: I’ve been to that cemetery once. Sadly at the time the columbarium that houses his urn was closed so I wasn’t able to see it.
    In life, when asked where he would like to be buried, Bloch quipped “under Marilyn Monroe.” So, I appreciated the fact that he is a few yards away from her.
    Ray Bradbury is across the way. We went there not long after Ray died and seeing his grave was a bit of a gut punch. It somehow seemed more “real” than the others.

    I like to think though that if one went to that cemetery around midnight you might catch Ray and Bob’s ghosts trading morbid jokes.

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