Skip Navigation Bar
National Intitutes of Health
This finding aids platform will be replaced in Fall 2022. Please explore the new platform Beta soft release by visiting

Mike Gorman Papers 1946-1989
full text File Size: 147 K bytes | Add this to my bookbag


Biographical Note

Thomas Francis "Mike" Gorman (1913-1989), a noted journalist, author, publicist, lobbyist and advocate for health causes and an ally of the philanthropist Mary Lasker, was born to Irish parents in New York City in 1913. He earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree at New York University in 1934 and 1936 respectively. After having served in the Air Force in the Second World War, he went to work as a reporter for Oklahoma City's Daily Oklahoman. There, he soon rose to national prominence. In the late 1940s, he wrote a series of blistering exposés of the treatment of patients in Oklahoma's state mental hospitals. For this, he received many honors and awards, including the Lasker Award for public service in 1948. He then traveled to other southern and midwestern states in order to examine their state mental hospitals. He eventually turned his findings into his best-selling book Every Other Bed (1956).

In 1953 he became executive director of the National Committee Against Mental Illness, a Washington publicity and lobbying group supported by Mary Lasker. He spent the rest of his life in similar positions, lobbying Congress with Lasker for health legislation and appropriations (and succeeding with such legislation as the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Construction Act of 1963), writing speeches on health issues for Representatives, Senators and Presidents, and speaking to citizens' mental health groups around the country. Through the decades, he served on various presidential panels, on the National Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Advisory Council, and on the first U.S. Mental Health Delegation to the Soviet Union (1967).

In the 1970s, he became interested in different health problems. Mary Lasker, Michael DeBakey and Gorman formed the Citizens for the Treatment of High Blood Pressure in 1973. Like the National Committee Against Mental Illness, this group focused on lobbying Congress and educating the public. Gorman also helped lead publicity groups focusing on alcoholism and the dangers of high cholesterol. In the 1980s, he became the executive director of the National Initiative for Glaucoma Control (funded by Mary Lasker and the pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp & Dohme). Gorman remained active on all these fronts until his death in 1989.