Richard Edward Norman is best known among film buffs for helping to break the racial barrier in the early film industry by producing “race films,” starring top African American actors of the day in positive, non-stereotypical roles. But few know that he also was prolific inventor. Among his inventions was a system that synched sound with images on film. Norman enjoyed a short-lived success, selling more than a dozen of these units until sound-on-film debuted, forever changing the film industry. Because of the deep financial investment that Norman had made in his invention, the advent of the “talkies” left him unable to fund further feature filmmaking. He continued work behind the camera, however, producing promotional and training films for companies like the Pure Oil Company and his family’s company, the Passi-Kola Company. During the 1940s and 1950s, he worked primarily as a film distributor, distributing Joe Louis fight films and films starring Lena Horne.
Learn more about Richard Norman here.