How to separate text... for 'letter' animation, physics, etc.

Hi All, sorry if this is a noob question, but i’ve tried everything and searched around extensively with no answer.

Is there any way to simply add text to a scene (extruding and beveling) and then ‘ungroup’ into single letters??

I’ve tried the idea of converting to curves and mesh, but then the ‘text’ just collapses to the original curves.

It seems ridiculous that you can’t just ungroup the text ‘letters’ (or in the terms of truespace or rhino you would just ‘explode’ or ‘unconnect’ the object) .

Just FYI, my goal is to type a phrase, or a bunch of letters, and then have them ‘fall/collapse’ due to gravity. I understand that I could add each letter individually and achieve this, but it seems so obvious and simple to just be able to type the phrase as a text object and then convert and ‘ungroup’ the letters.

I just can’t figure it out, tried every darn thing.

thanks a bunch for any advice or info. I’m using latest blender 2.56 beta.

a simple way:

reduce text resolution to an aceptable value
add extrusion / bevel
Alt+C > mesh from text

go edit mode > select all
W key > remove doubles
P key > separate by loose parts

go object mode > select all the letters
Ctrl+Alt+Shift+C > center to geometry

Extrusion and beveling should persist after converting to mesh. What do you mean by “the ‘text’ just collapses to the original curves”?