Columbia Presents Corwin

Columbia Presents Corwin

Norman Corwin worked as a newspaper journalist for the Greenfield Recorder and the Springfield Republican, and later read news over WBZA in Massachusetts. He moved to New York City in 1936 and created a program for independent station WQXR. In 1938, he began working for the CBS Radio Network. CBS scheduled Norman Corwin's Words Without Music, the first usage of a writer's name in a program title; the series included two of his more famous works, The Plot to Overthrow Christmas, a fantasy in rhyme, and They Fly Through The Air, an impassioned reaction to the Spanish Civil War. In 1941 Corwin was given the timeslot and resources of the Columbia Workshop program for a full six months, under the title 26 By Corwin, which required him to conceive, write, cast, direct and produce a completely new play every seven days.

We Hold These Truths was first broadcast on December 15, 1941, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the United States Bill of Rights. It was written at the "invitation" (Corwin's word) of the U.S. Office of Facts and Figures. Corwin reports being on a train on his way to California to produce the program when news of the attack on Pearl Harbor war came to him. He sent a telegram to Washington at the next stop, asking if the OFF still wanted the program done. When he got to Albuquerque, a telegram was waiting for him: "the President says, 'now more than ever.'" [Corwin's notes in "More by Corwin] Many radio and movie stars of the day featured, along with an epilogue by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With an audience of 60 million listeners it became one of the most famous ever produced on radio.

Columbia Presents Corwin (1944) offered stories ranging from serious to whimsical. His most famous work is On a Note of Triumph, a celebration of the Allied victory in Europe, first broadcast on VE Day, May 8, 1945. Not knowing where he would be when the end came, broadcast historian Erik Barnouw wrote, Corwin had performers ready in both New York City and Los Angeles. The program went on (from the Los Angeles studios of CBS Radio Station KNX), with Martin Gabel as host/narrator and with William L. Shirer (via cable from New York) re-creating his role as reporter in the Compeigne forest covering the French surrender to Germany. Corwin wrote a similar program for CBS, Fourteen August, which was broadcast on V-J Day.

Corwin was the first winner of the One World Award established by the Common Council for American Unity along with the (Wendell) Willkie Memorial of Freedom House. The award's winner was given an around the world trip. He won the award for his contributions in the field of mass communication to the concept of the world becoming more unified. In June 1946, he set out from New York for a 4 month journey. He interviewed both world leaders and ordinary citizens, accompanied by a CBS recording engineer with 225 pounds of magnetic wire recording equipment. His 100 hours of recorded interviews was transcribed and took up 3700 pages. The CBS network then molded his work into a 13 part documentary that was aired in the Winter and Spring of 1947. Programs featured Great Britain, Western Europe, Sweden and Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Egypt and India, Shanghai and Cities of the Far East, The Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand.

Corwin wrote and directed two plays produced on Broadway, The Rivalry (1959) and The World of Carl Sandburg (1960). According to Ray Bradbury, Corwin was responsible for the eventual publication of Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.

Composer David Raksin's "reverent orchestral theme" for the 1950 MGM film The Next Voice You Hear... was later published with original lyrics by Corwin as a hymn, "Hasten the Day".

Corwin wrote a number of motion picture screenplays, including The Blue Veil (1951), Scandal at Scourie (1953), Lust for Life (1956), and The Story of Ruth (1961).

In the early 1970s Corwin produced and hosted the television show Norman Corwin Presents. In 1979 he hosted Academy Leaders, a weekly showcase for short films which had won or been nominated for an Adademy Award.

Corwin wrote several books, which include Trivializing America; plus many essays, letters, articles and plays.

In the 1980s Corwin was one of the writing teachers of J. Michael Straczynski, creator of the television series Babylon 5. Stracyzynski named a recurring character in the series, David Corwin , after Norman; on the rec.arts.babylon5.moderated Usenet newsgroup, Stracyzynski wrote a series of posts on Norman Corwin's work.

During the 1990s, Corwin returned to radio drama, producing a series of radio plays for National Public Radio. In 1993, Corwin was finally inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame after a long career. And in 2001, NPR aired six new plays by Corwin under the title More By Corwin. He also lectured at USC as a visiting professor and was also on the Advisory Board of the National Audio Theatre Festival. Corwin celebrated his 100th birthday in May 2010. Corwin died at the age of 101 on October 18, 2011. [Source: Wikipedia]

Broadcast: March 28, 1944
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