Affiliate notice

Affiliate links may be included in posts, as on sidebar ads, for which compensation may be received.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Norman Corwin - Boston, Greenfield, and Springfield, Massachusetts

Norman Corwin, was of the finest writers and producers of the Golden Age of Radio, as well as being a screenwriter and teacher, had New England roots, and some of his earliest writing was for western Massachusetts newspapers.

During the 1930s and 1940s, he used the medium of radio drama and comedy to address social issues in profound ways.  His writing was vivid, lean, and imaginative.  Here on my Another Old Movie Blog, we covered his emotional We Hold These Truths, broadcast the week after Pearl Harbor in December 1941 with a cast of stars dramatizing the nuances of the Bill of Rights. It was the most famous radio event of its day, and he won a Peabody Award.

Corwin was born in 1910 in Boston, the son of a printer.  The family moved to Winthrop and he graduated from Winthrop High School.  At only seventeen, he was hired as a cub reporter in Greenfield, Massachusetts, for the Greenfield Recorder, reporting on the courts and writing movie reviews, and made western Mass. his home for several years.

He next worked down river for the Springfield Republican, where he was the editor for radio news, his column  called "Radiosyncracies," written under a pseudonym.  It was during his stint in Springfield, Mass. that Corwin became involved in radio broadcasting.  In the early thirties he worked for WBZ and WBZA in Springfield and in Boston as a commentator and reader of poetry.  He left New England in 1935 for work first in Cincinnati, and then New York City where he remained with CBS until 1949.

On a Note of Triumph, a celebration of victory in Europe, was broadcast May 8, 1945 with actors and commentators broadcasting from both New York City and Los Angeles. Corwin wrote Fourteen August, which was similarly broadcast on V-J Day.  He earned a Distinguished Achievement Award from Radio Life magazine.

He eventually left radio, disgusted by the blacklist and being a victim of that notorious era, though he was not a communist; his work, particularly where it relates to freedom of speech, brought his liberalism into question.  He also wrote the two episodes of Hollywood Strikes Back, the actors’, producers’, and writers’ response to the persecution of the Hollywood Ten.  Have a look at my Another Old Movie Blog on Thursday for a post on that program.

Corwin moved on to television, the theatre, film, and teaching writing, and is the subject of a documentary on his life and work: A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin (2005).  He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.  Norman Corwin died in 2011 at the age of 101.

Now Available