Norman Rosenberg, royalty to a set of Bay Area Baby Boomers, has died at age 98. Fittingly, it's KGO-TV that reports the star of The King Norman Show, which aired on that station in the 1950s and was a staple of Saturday morning children's programming, died last month. That news came from Gail Mosheim, Rosnberg's daughter, who survives him.
With his wife Doris Rosenberg, who passed away in 2008 at age 85, Rosenberg ran Norman's Kingdom of Toys. The stores were founded in the late 1940s and did a killer business with the boom of births after World War II. It expanded, at its peak, to 21 locations, from Clement Street in San Francisco and even to Oregon and Washington. The crown jewel may have been an amusement park across from a Norman's in Concord, California.
The empire was finally sold in the 1980s, as the Chronicle recalls in an obituary for Doris. In that piece, Moishem recalled of her parents that "They were a team... there would be Halloween parades around Clement Street, and my mother and father would lead them."
Born Doris Brodofsky in 1922, Doris worked for her parents in the Mission District at Belle Bazaar, their stationary and toy store, attending Lowell High School and UC Berkeley. She and Norman, a naval officer stationed in the city, met on a blind date.
"People who grew up in that era remember them," Mosheim said. "They were part of many people's youth." Perhaps that's because children could see themselves on screen: "[Theirs] was one of the first shows where children were a major part of the action," Mosheim claims.
The Chronicle remembers the time of The King Norman Show as one "when every TV station had a locally produced children's show, with strangely clad hosts like Marshal J, Mayor Art, Skipper Sedley, Captain Satellite and a host of others showing cartoons, chatting with puppets and marionettes, and pitching products."
As one San Franciscan, Frank Dunnigan recalled to the Western Neighborhoods Project in 2015,
"With a studio audience of children, the King, in his regal robes, was assisted by his wife Doris, always in her own distinctive costume as the King’s assistant, Page Joy. The program generally involved a couple of special boys and girls from the audience who were presented to the King, plus some kid-focused public service announcements on issues like dental care or fire safety, and a variety of gift items from the King’s treasure trove of toy stock, bestowed on lucky audience members. Tickets were always in demand, and this author still remembers, with great sadness, that his own bout with measles, circa 1958, kept him from attending on a long-ago Saturday morning when he was fortunate enough to have acquired a free ticket."