Blau was raised in New York City and London. His first film credit was for Mother Is a Freshman (1949). Based on seeing research speculation that a chimpanzee might be able to be raised like a human child, he conceived of the Bedtime for Bonzo story. He shared a script with his brother-in-law, Ted Berkman, and becoming partners on this and other projects, both received a story credit for the film. Fear Strikes Out (1957) brought Blau and Berkman their greatest acclaim.
In 1962, Blau and his wife Helen moved to Nova Scotia. Their son Joel Blau is a professor at Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare in New York. Their daughter Deborah Blau is a graphic artist and tour guide who lives in New York.
- Scott, Janny (1 April 1996). Raphael Blau, Writer, 83, Dies; Did 'Bedtime for Bonzo' Story, The New York Times
- (21 November 1980). Bonzo hopes to get banana republic post, Leader-Post
- Sheff, David (15 December 1980). Two Ex-Screenwriters Turn the 1980 Election into Boomtime for Bonzo and Their Own Bonanza, People (magazine)
- Joel, D.S.W., stonybrookmedicalcenter.com, Retrieved February 7, 2012
- Blau, Joel. The Visible Poor: Homelessness in the United States (1992) (acknowledgments thank parents Raphael and Helen)