Norman Corwin, born May 3, 1910, has often been called "America’s Poet Laureate of the Radio." He wrote, produced and directed many of the phenomenally successful radio dramas during the 1930s and 1940s and was the inspiration for later drama writers in both radio and television such as Norman Lear, Rod Serling and Yuri Rasovsky.
During the Golden Age of Radio, Corwin wrote and/or produced such programs as The Columbia Workshop, An American in Russia, which followed another successful work, An American in England and others.
In the early days of radio, Corwin appeared as a panelist on the popular, Adventures of Ellery Queen mystery show with such celebrities as Guy Lombardo, Dorothy Kilgallen, Jane Russell and Orson Welles. These panelists ferreted out clues and played guessing games to bring the audience into the web of intrigue.
On May 4, 1941, CBS aired Columbia Presents Corwin, a dramatic anthology based on his works, including One World Flight, Passport for Adams, The Pursuit of Happiness, So This is Radio and This is War.
This show was a series that was produced and directed by Corwin and included a cast of Everett Sloane, Ted de Corsia, John Brown, Frank Lovejoy and a treasure trove of other radio personalities.
The Columbia Workshop and Columbia Presents Corwin were considered by CBS to be "crown jewels" in the genre that was both prestigious and powerful for any sponsor. Corwin enjoyed the status of a celebrity and mountains were often moved to give him the artistic freedom he desired.
It’s been said that Norman Corwin enjoyed more popularity than President Roosevelt during his tenure on radio, and Corwin did much to promote the war efforts during World War II.
It was President Roosevelt’s suggestion to Archibald MacLeish that radio help promote the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Corwin was immediately chosen for the job. It was to be a 60 minute broadcast on the four national networks – at the same time.
Corwin made it happen – over 60 million persons tuned in to listen to We Hold These Truths on December 15, 1941. With a cast of such stellar stars as James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Orson Welles and Edward G. Robinson, the show was a major success.
On May 3, 2011, Norman Corwin celebrated his 101st birthday. He died in Los Angeles, California, on the 18th October 2011.