Li'l Abner Librettist Norman Panama Is Dead

Obituaries   Li'l Abner Librettist Norman Panama Is Dead
Norman Panama, the screenwriter who, with Melvin Frank, wrote the screenplay "White Christmas" and the libretto to the 1956 Broadway musical, Li'l Abner, died Jan. 13, Reuters reported.

Mr. Panama was 88 and died of complications from Parkinson's disease. He also co-produced the comic-strip-inpired Li'l Abner, and late in his career wrote a comedy-mystery, A Talent for Murder, which ran two months on Broadway in 1981 starring Claudette Colbert and Jean-Pierre Aumont. Mr. Panama and Frank were writers for comedian Bob Hope in the early 1930s. They were nominated for Academy Awards for the movies, "Road to Utopia," "Knock on Wood" and "The Facts of Life." They also penned the screenplay to "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" in 1948.

For Li'l Abner on Broadway, they also served as co-producers (along with Michael Kidd), though Mr. Panama got sole writing credit for the satire about hillybilly-filled Dogpatch USA and their scrape with the federal government. Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics, Gene de Paul the music. Edith Adams won the Tony for playing buxom Daisy Mae. Kidd won for choreography.

Mr. Panama, a Chicago native, met Frank at the University of Chicago. Their partnership last 30 years until an amicable split, Reuters reported. Frank died in 1988.

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