ARENA | Archive of Emperor Norton in Art, Music & Film
At some point, the right script and actors will find the visionary funders necessary to bring an historically informed feature-length dramatic film treatment of the Emperor Norton story to the big screen.
It will have been a long time in coming. Starting shortly after the advent of sound film — and intermittently over the course of the next few decades — the Emperor was the subject of a number of dramatic short films and television episodes.
These sentimental — and often highly fictionalized — treatments reflect the oral tradition and folklore that grew up around Emperor Norton in the decades after his death in 1880.
These film documents are significant, in part, for this reason. But they also now are rarities that are rarely seen outside the domains of film screening societies and, occasionally, subscription cable television — and sometimes not even then.
The Emperor's Bridge Campaign is partnering with the Internet Archive to make these films available for viewing by a broader audience — both via the Internet Archive and via the Campaign's own ARchive of Emperor Norton in Art, Music & Film (ARENA). A link to this Film section page is part of the Archive drop-down menu among the navigation tabs at far left.
Click on any of the four titles below to be directed to a dedicated page where you can view the film. (The films also are available at the Internet Archive here.) *
The Story of Norton I: Emperor of the United States (Columbia Pictures/Screen Classics) — b/w, 9 minutes
Emperor Norton's Bridge — Season 1, Episode 8, of Telephone Time (CBS) — b/w, 30 minutes
Emperor Norton — Season 4, Episode 21, of Death Valley Days — b/w, 30 minutes
The Emperor Norton — Season 7, Episode 23, of Bonanza — color, 60 minutes
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* DISCLAIMER: One or more of these films may be under copyright. We present them here solely for non-commercial, educational purposes.