Norman Corwin, poet of the airwaves and USC prof, dies at 101 *


corwin-at-cbs.jpgCorwin died today at home in Los Angeles. No cause was given. "He was the best radio writer-producer-director in the whole history of radio," longtime friend Ray Bradbury said in 2002."There was no one like him. He dominated the field." More to come. L.A. Times early story

From a 2009 post by LA Observed columnist Bill Boyarsky, who called Corwin then "a Los Angeles literary treasure."

We had assembled recently for a signing of his new book, “Norman Corwin’s One World Flight: The Lost Journal of Radio’s Greatest Writer.” Norman, who is 99, had written the journal during his flight around the world in 1946. He had helped rally the nation during the war with his radio broadcasts and went on to write books and films as well as memorable radio scripts.

The flight was his reward for winning the first Wendell Willkie Award, established by admirers of the 1940 Republican presidential nominee. During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Willkie a special envoy and sent him around world, visiting America’s allies. When he returned, Willkie wrote a best selling book, “One World,” whose goal is still far away.

One of benefits of teaching at USC was the opportunity it gave me and my wife Nancy to get to know Norman, joining a huge army of friends he has accumulated, probably starting shortly after his birth in Boston in 1910.

Norman, now wheelchair bound, couldn’t be heard at first. Barnes & Noble, possibly unaware of his star power, had not provided a microphone. Instead, his words were delivered to the crowd, by Michael C. Keith who, with Mary Ann Watson—both professors of broadcasting history—had brought the long- forgotten journal to publication. After a while, bookstore personnel, sensing the importance of their guest, located a microphone and brought it to the table. Norman took over the remarks.

His voice, while soft, is as clear and as sharp as his mind and wit. He took note of writers in the audience, including his USC faculty colleagues Jack Langguth and Joe Saltzman, and urged another to get working on a book. And he was pleased to note the presence of another L.A. literary treasure, Ray Bradbury, who made his way through the crowd to greet Norman and chat with him briefly. Bradbury also gets around in a wheelchair.

Read the whole story.

* Updates:

USC Annenberg via Twitter: "The ascj family is incredibly saddened by the loss of one of the greats, Norman Corwin. He touched countless lives in his 101 amazing years."

USC Annenberg website: In Memoriam

One of USC Annenberg’s most beloved professors – and one of the country’s greatest radio dramatists...

He wrote and directed stage plays, television dramas, motion pictures, three cantatas (one of which was performed in the Assembly Hall of the United Nations), and even the libretto of an award-winning one-act opera that was produced by the Metropolitan. He wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for "Lust for Life," for which Anthony Quinn won an Oscar for his performance as Gaugin.

Among recent works, Corwin wrote the culminating Ode to wrap up CBS' nine-hour 50th-anniversary celebration. He was the author of 12 published books and led two award committees for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Until the end of his life, Corwin was a Writer in Residence at USC Annenberg. USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III called Corwin “a true legend.”

USC Annenberg package on Corwin's 100th birthday


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