Norman Corwin

October 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

A week ago, Norman Corwin died.  He was 101 years old and most people I know don’t know who he was.

At least one person called him the “poet laureate of radio theater” and I think that’s a pretty apt title.  You’ve heard of Orson Welles – you know about his (excellent, expansive) work in radio.  Norman Corwin was doing just as much, if not more, than Welles but ended up less famous.

I discovered Mr. Corwin for myself when I was in college.  I’d been peripherally interested in radio theater for years and, during my Senior year, my friend Tammy and I teamed up to produce and direct a radio play as our “Senior Drama Thesis.”  We chose Mr. Corwin’s ‘El Capitan and the Corporal.’  Along the way, we were given the opportunity to interview Mr. Corwin on the telephone – a conversation during which he said many inspiring things.  His passion for radio, for imagination and creativity was unmistakable.  When our play was done, we sent him a recording and he called us again to say he’d listened to it and to praise our work – a thrill and a point of pride for me still.

The New York Times wrote a nice, and illuminating obituary of him.  I didn’t know about his post-radio career or the impact his politics had on his work. I encourage you to read it – he deserves to be known.

I’m sorry he’s gone.

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