April 29, 1913 – June 25, 2012
With the passing of Norman Felton on June 25, 2012, the Bill of Rights lost a true friend. Norman was one of our affiliate’s largest annual contributors for over a decade. His partner Denise reports that Norman said of the ACLU, "They do things I can't do." Norman left a substantial bequest to the ACLU.
Norman arrived in the United States from England as a teenager, in the late 1920s. In the midst of the depression, he traveled the country looking for work. In Cleveland, he began to work backstage in a small theater, and set about writing one-act plays based on his experiences traveling the country. The plays were passed on to the head of the prestigious drama department at the University of Iowa. He continued to write plays that were produced by the University. There he met his wife Aline, who was studying for her master's degree.
After graduating, he directed plays at regional theaters before being offered a job by NBC. From there he produced live radio shows, television series, and movies. He was executive producer of the hit shows Dr. Kildare and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and in the 1970s he produced Babe, And Your Name is Jonah, as well as motion pictures for theatrical release. Norman was a founder of the Producers Guild and served as its president.
Norman was a true philanthropist. In addition to his ACLU activism, he avidly supported the Southern Poverty Law Center, Doctors without Borders, and the Center for Media Literacy.
Norman was dedicated to the elimination of the death penalty. He was tested when his daughter, grandchild, and son-in-law were murdered in 1982. After the killers were caught, Norman publicly announced he still opposed the death penalty. Years later Norman was quoted saying "we believe in positive things to heal." Along with his wife, he established a scholarship fund in the name of his murdered daughter and an endowment for a day-care center in the name of his murdered grandchild. Death Penalty Focus now honors Norman and his late wife by bestowing an annual award in their names.
After Norman's wife Aline passed away, he met Denise Aubuchon, who became his life partner. He retired and moved to Santa Barbara. Denise shared Norman's passion for supporting the ACLU and she is currently an active member of the ACLU SoCal's Santa Barbara Chapter.