The Emperor's Bridge Campaign

to honor the life + advance the legacy of Emperor Norton

ARENA | Film

The Story of Norton I: Emperor of the United States (1936)

The Emperor's Bridge Campaign has contributed this film to the Internet Archive. It can be viewed below or at the Archive (here). *

To view other films in our ARchive of Emperor Norton in Art, Music & Film (ARENA), see the Film section here.

Scroll down for background and production credits.

For the best experience of the film, you may need to set your volume higher than usual.


This rare black-and-white theatrical short was part of Columbia Pictures' Strange As It Seems series. The series was inspired by the syndicated comics of John Hix, whose Strange As It Seems franchise was the chief rival to Robert Ripley's Believe It or Not! franchise.

The 9-minute short, inspired by a Hix comic that originally was published in April 1934, appears to feature the earliest dramatic portrayal of Emperor Norton extant on film.

To learn much more about this film, see our March 2016 article, "Sleuthing the Origins of An Early Film Portrayal of Emperor Norton."

We present here a scan of The Emperor's Bridge Campaign's own 16mm copy of the film. The scan was done at the Internet Archive by Dimitrios Latsis.

This copy of the film is doubly rare, as it is the complete original version of the film, including the Columbia Pictures titles. Copies of the film in other collections — including the Library of Congress and the Pacific Film Archive at UC Berkeley — are of a 1947 reissue by the Academic Film Company. In this reissue, the film is retitled Emperor Norton, and the original Columbia title cards are switched out.


Production company Columbia Pictures / Screen Classics

Audio-Visual sound, b/w

Run time 9:07


Produced by Richard C. Kahn

Adapted by Sherman Rogers

Edited by Robert Newman

Supervised by Leonard Poole

Photography Robert Doran

Art Direction Neil E. McGuire


* DISCLAIMER: This film may be under copyright. We present it here strictly for non-commercial, educational purposes.

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