Norman Macdonnell





Pasadena, California

Birth Name




Writer, director and producer Norman Macdonnell cut his teeth in radio, and while it was on radio that he achieved some of his greatest successes, his legacy in television is immortalized with his creation of the longest-running prime-time drama series in TV history. Along with writer John Meston, Macdonnell created the legendary western series Gunsmoke, and shepherded it through its years as a radio drama and then as a TV series. Before getting into broadcasting, Macdonnell served in World War II and saw action at D-Day. Following the war, he went to work for CBS radio in 1946. During his tenure at CBS, he oversaw production of several top-notch programs. Among them was Escape, the adventure anthology series that is recognized today as one of the finest programs from radio's golden age. Macdonnell also directed CBS' second (and most successful) attempt at dramatizing Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe as a radio series. Starring Gerald Mohr, The Adventures of Philip Marlowe pulled the biggest audience in American radio in 1949, averaging about 10 million listeners. For his performance as Marlowe, Gerald Mohr was named the 1950 Best Male Actor by "Radio and Television Life Magazine." In 1952, Macdonnell launched Gunsmoke on CBS. This groundbreaking series is remembered as radio's first "adult" western in a genre that had been dominated by The Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy. Through its intelligent scripts, strong performances and innovative sound effects, Gunsmoke captivated audiences. With the boom of television, Gunsmoke came to the airwaves in 1955 for the start of a 20 year run. Macdonnell came on board the TV series in 1956. As a producer, he led Gunsmoke to four straight years as TV's number one program.