Himan Brown (July 21, 1910 – June 4, 2010), also known as Hi Brown and Mende Brown, was an American producer of radio programs. Producing for the major radio networks and also for syndication, Brown worked with such actors as Helen Hayes, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra and Orson Welles while creating thousands of radio programs.
The son of a tailor from a shtetl near the Ukrainian seaport of Odessa, Brown first learned about radio from a shop teacher at Brooklyn's Boys High School. At the age of 18, he began broadcasting on New York's WEAF, reading newspapers with a Yiddish dialect. One of his listeners was Gertrude Berg who wanted him to play Jake, her husband on The Goldbergs, which he did for six months. He continued as a radio actor but soon began to pitch shows directly to advertising agencies. While at Brooklyn College, he recruited fellow student Irwin Shaw to write scripts, giving the author his first paid writing job. Shaw later based a character on Brown in his 1951 novel about the radio industry, The Troubled Air.
On the air
During a span of 65 years, he produced more than 30,000 radio programs, including The Adventures of the Thin Man, The Affairs of Peter Salem, Bulldog Drummond, CBS Radio Mystery Theater, City Desk, Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater, Grand Central Station, Green Valley, USA, The Gumps, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, Joyce Jordan, M.D., Marie, the Little French Princess, The NBC Radio Theater, The Private Files of Rex Saunders, Terry and the Pirates and numerous daytime soap operas. In 1951-55 he directed the NBC detective drama, Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator, and he directed many episodes of shows he produced.
In the 1950s, he bought Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Studios at 221 West 26th Street (now Chelsea Studios) to produce his shows.
When television arrived, Brown produced 26 episodes of the syndicated Inner Sanctum TV series, plus a daytime show, Morning Matinee. Realizing that "all these guys making TV, they have to have a set," he profited by acquiring the studios in Chelsea; they were used for 35 years by New York TV production firms.
Through his non-profit educational foundation, Brown produced They Were Giants, radio programs dramatizing the lives of such literary figures as Walt Whitman and H. G. Wells.We, The Living, fact-based dramas about the lives of senior citizens.
Brown died peacefully on June 4, 2010, in New York.
A member of the Radio Hall of Fame, Brown received the American Broadcast Pioneer and the Peabody Award. Brown taught audio drama at Brooklyn College and the School of Visual Arts. He lived at the same apartment on Central Park West from 1938 until his death in 2010.