Guide to the Norman Felton Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1940-1993
Creator: Felton, Norman (1913-)
Extent: 63.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0265
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: British born American television producer and director. Correspondence, clippings, photographs, notebooks, binders.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs throughout; Glass slides, film clips, in Box 51; Posters in Box 26a and broadside drawer; Audio material in broadside drawer and Box 136; VHS in Box 134; 2 floppy disks in Box 135.

Access: This collection is open for research. Scripts, stories, and treatments are under copyright restrictions and cannot be published in entirety or in part without permission of the authors and/or the owners.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: Mr. Felton donated his papers to the University of Iowa Libraries over a period of years, beginning in 1974. Jon Burlingame donated the CD soundtracks in 2005.

Preferred Citation: Norman Felton Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Biographical Note

Norman Felton was born in London, England in 1913. At the age of fourteen, he left school to work as a printer's helper. When he was sixteen, he and his family immigrated to the United States. His parents later returned to England, but Norman Felton stayed in the United States and became a citizen in 1939. He had many jobs, and it was while he was a truck driver in Cleveland, Ohio that Felton was introduced to the theatre. He quickly developed an interest in the theatre and began writing plays. In 1935, Felton won a playwriting fellowship to the University of Iowa (later, in 1965, he established his own playwriting fellowship there). Felton earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Arts from the UI, as well as meeting his future wife, Aline Stotts, whom he married in 1940.
After graduation, Felton worked in community theatres in St. Paul, Minnesota and Saginaw, Michigan. While in Saginaw, he developed a new way of staging plays which he called Arena Theatre. An article [copy located in Box 88] he wrote about this new staging method interested an executive of NBC radio in Chicago and earned Felton the job of radio producer - director at NBC radio.
In 1948 Felton briefly visited New York to learn about television, returning to Chicago as a television executive producer. Felton's career took off in 1950 when he returned to New York to direct and write teleplays for Alcoa Hour, Goodyear Playhouse, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Robert Montgomery Presents, Studio One, and U.S. Steel Hour.
In 1958, Felton became the executive producer and program executive of Playhouse 90. In 1960 he became the director of television programs for MGM and formed his own company, Arena Productions, the following year. Felton developed and produced: Dr. Kildare, The Eleventh Hour, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Jericho, The Lieutenant, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Strange Report, and The Psychiatrist. Felton is often credited with discovering Richard Chamberlain, but modestly claims he only picked Chamberlain out of a group of actors auditioning for the role.
Felton has earned many honors as producer or director. Among them are:
Emmy for Robert Montgomery Presents (1952)
Emmy nominations for:
Studio One, (1957)
Dr. Kildare, (1957)
The Eleventh Hour, (1963)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E., (1964 & 1965)
American Cinema Editors, 1965
Two Sylvania Awards for distinguished achievement in television, (1952 & 1956)
Two Christopher Awards, (1954 &1956)
TV Guide Gold Medal (1952)
TV Guide Silver Bowl Awards, (1963 &1964) for best Series
TV Guide Silver Bowl Award, (1964) for Best Individual Drama, Tyger Tyger
TV Guide Silver Bowl Nominations, (1962,1963, &1964)
Look Magazine Award, (1952) for Robert Montgomery Presents
Golden Globe Award, (1965)
Western Foundation of Myasthenia Gravis, (1961 & 1962)
California Federation of Women's Clubs, (1963)
Felton and his wife had three children: Julie Anne, born in 1948, John Chirstopher, born in 1953 and Aline Elizabeth, born in 1957. Aline, her husband David Berkley, and their nine-month-old daughter Jessicca were murdered December 18, 1982 in Detroit near Wayne State Medical Center where David was a medical student.
Felton is a member and past president of the Screen Producers Guild, a member of Caucus Producers, and is a co-chairman of the Writers and Directors of America.

Content Description

The papers of Norman Felton measure some sixty-three linear feet of manuscript materials. The collection is arranged into seven series: Correspondence; General Information; Arena and Felton Productions; Scripts; General Files; Felton's Autobiography, and Oversized Materials. These series are only rough divisions, with a great deal of overlap between them. The Correspondence Series is comprised of both Felton's business and personal correspondence, while more letters may be found in the General Information, the Arena and Felton Productions, and the General Files series. The General Information section includes everything from Christmas lists and photographs to story ideas and screen credits. Boxes 14 - 93 contain the Arena and Felton Productions series. Detailed information, such as budgets, casting, screenplays, audience reactions, photographs, fan club publications, etc., all relating to Felton's various television series, including Dr. Kildare, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Lieutenant, Eleventh Hour, etc. are housed here. There is also material from his made-for-television movies, as well as unproduced scripts and story ideas. The next sub-series contains the shooting scripts from: Dr. Kildare, Eleventh Hour, The Psychiatrist, Hawkins, Strange Report, Jericho, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., and The Lieutenant. Series five, General Files, consists of a wide range of manuscripts, everything from scripts from Robert Montgomery Presents to Felton's daughter's law school essay. Norman Felton's Autobiography, Best of Luck or Life on a Hard Disk, is the subject of the sixth sub-series. The collection ends with a number of oversized items, including phonograph records and theater posters.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Browse by Series:


This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Corporate Names:
Arena Productions, Inc.

Detective and mystery television programs
Television programs

Television actors and actresses
Television producers and directors
Television writers

Genre/Form of Materials:

And your name is Jonah (Television program)
Babe (Television program)
Baffled (Television program)
Dr. Kildare (Television program)
Eleventh hour (Television program)
Executive suite (Television program)
Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (Television program)
Hawkins (Television program)
Jericho (Television program)
Lieutenant (Television program)
Lucky Strike theatre (Television program)
Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Television program)
Psychiatrist (Television program)
Strange report (Television program)
Studio one (Television program)
These are my children (Television program)

Fandom-Related Collections
Film & Television Writing and Directing
English & American Literature
Writers Archive at Iowa
Dramatists, Playwrights, & Scriptwriters for Television & Screen
Study of Theatre Arts and Popular Culture