Robert Bloch, The Clown at Midnight

Robert Bloch and Steve Vertlieb

By Steve Vertlieb: This is the story of my twenty-five year friendship with acclaimed writer Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho. It is a published, Rondo Award nominated remembrance of a complex, remarkable man, and our affectionate relationship over a quarter century.

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.

Steve sits with Bob and with his lovely wife Elly in their Hollywood Hills during the intoxicating Summer of 1974.

He also famously penned several classic episodes of NBC’s original Star Trek series for producer Gene Roddenberry. Writers Stephen King, Richard Matheson, and Harlan Ellison have written lovingly and profusely 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.

Steve, Richard Matheson, and Robert Bloch.

Steve invites you to read the complete article here — The Thunder Child: Vertlieb’s Views: “The Clown at Midnight”.

2 thoughts on “Robert Bloch, The Clown at Midnight

  1. I met Bob Bloch several times during his visits to his friend Bob Tucker in Jacksonville, IL: a delightful fellow. On the old road between Springfield and Jacksonville, there was a hamlet called Bates, and there was a motel–yes, the Bates Motel–there for many years (from about 1950 to the late ’70s), and I’m sure Bloch saw it and perhaps even visited it; but it didn’t resemble the motel described in Bloch’s famous book or the movie made from it. When the Interstate was built a couple of miles north, traffic bypassed the towns along the old road, and the motel went into a decline and closed down, after which it fell into ruin. It was demolished in 1994 and what remained of it was destroyed in a fire. So “it ain’t there no mo'”. Here’s an article about it from a local historical publication:

  2. Steve: Thanks for writing these Bloch stories down.

    I didn’t know about Hitchcock not using Miklos Rosza because of the Spellbound Concerto. That;s interesting.

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