Childhood & Early Life
Robert Bloch was born on April 5, 1917, in Chicago to Raphael Bloch and Stella Loeb. His father was a bank cashier while mother a social worker. He was raised in a middle-class Jewish family.
Bloch family moved to Maywood when he was only five and there he attended the Methodist Church even though he belonged to Jewish religion. It was while growing up in Maywood that Bloch inculcated interest in horror.
In 1929, the family moved to Milwaukee as Bloch’s father lost his job. Here Bloch attended the Lincoln High School and wrote for the school magazine, The Quill. After graduating, he started working at drama department of the school.
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In 1935, Bloch became a part of ‘The Milwaukee Fictioneers’ - it was a writers’ group, which included other members like, Gustav Mark, Stanley Weinbaum, Raymond Palmer, etc. Mark gave him job in his advertising firm as a copy writer.
Bloch was hired to write and contribute in the campaigning of Carl Zeidler in 1939. He worked on his speechwriting, advertising and photo ops. Although he worked hard for the campaign but he was never paid the promised salary.
Bloch came out with his original take on the fictional character, ‘Jack, the Ripper’, in his story ‘Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper’, which was published in ‘Weird Tales’ magazine in 1943. It was later adapted for the radio and television.
His first thriller novel, ‘The scarf’ was published in 1947, which is a story of a writer named ‘Daniel Morley’ who uses real women as models for his characters and murders them afterwards.
In 1954, Bloch came out with three different thriller novels, ‘Spiderweb’, ‘The Kidnapper’ and ‘The Will to Kill’. He was also chosen to be a weekly guest panelist on the television show, ‘It’s a Draw’.
Bloch had gained some amount of critical and commercial success by now but in 1959 with the publishing of his novel ‘The Psycho’ his life changed forever - his name was appended with this piece of brilliance forever.
With ‘The Psycho’s’ instant success, Bloch was approached to sell its film rights to a Hollywood production company. He sold the rights for $9500 and later learned that it was Alfred Hitchcock who bought the rights.
In 1959, Bloch won science fiction’s most prestigious accolade, the Hugo Award, for his short story titled, ‘The Hell-Bound Train’. It was after receiving the award that he was asked to write the script for television drama, ‘Lock-Up’.
In the same year, he wrote a few scripts for another television project called, ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’. But a strike by the Writer’s Guild forced him to return back to writing short stories.
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In 1960, Bloch released a novel titled ‘The Dead Beat’ as well as a collection of short stories titled ‘Pleasant Dreams’. It was the same year in which Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ was released, making Bloch a big name in Hollywood.
In the ‘60s, after the strike ended, Bloch returned to screenwriting and wrote screenplay for ‘The Couch (1962)’, an episode for ‘Bus Stop’, 10 episodes for ‘Thriller’, 10 episodes for ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’, screenplay for ‘The Cabinet of Caligari (1962)’, etc.
Other works from this period includes: ‘Firebug (1961)’, screenplay for ‘Strait-Jacket (1964), ‘The Night Walker (1964)’, ‘The Skull (1965)’, ‘Journey to Midnight (1968)’, ‘The House That Dripped Blood (1970)’, etc.
Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Bloch continued with his screenplay writing—wrote single episodes for ‘Night Gallery (1971)’, ‘Ghost Story (1972)’, ‘Gemini Man (1976)’, etc.
He continued with writing fictions and screenplays and wrote novels like, ‘Sneak Preview (1971), ‘Strange Eons (1978)’, ‘Lori (1989)’, etc. and wrote screenplays for, ‘Darkroom’, ‘Tales from the Darkside’, etc.
Bloch was honored with the Honor of Master of Ceremonies at the first World Horror Convention held in Nashville, Tennessee in 1991.
He was a guest of honor at BYOBCON V science-fiction convention in Kansas City in 1975, where it was announced in his honor, that, ‘The author of Psycho is in the hotel. Shower with a friend’.
This prolific American fiction writer wrote most of his work on an old manual typewriter.