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The Master of Radio Drama

Lawrence Bush
May 2, 2017

Norman Corwin, one of the most popular radio writers during the Golden Age of radio drama in the 1930s and ’40s, was born in Boston on this date in 1910. Corwin brought culture, historical consciousness, and progressive patriotism to the airwaves, with such radio plays as Spoon River Anthology (1939), We Hold These Truths (1941), On a Note of Triumph (1945), and Hollywood Fights Back (1947). He also wrote several screenplays for films that included Lust for Life (1956), starring Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh. In 1951, the House UnAmerican Activities Committee declared Corwin a Communist sympathizer, on a list that included Leonard Bernstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, and other cultural figures; Corwin quit radio the following year and turned to other media, including Broadway theater and television. In the 1990s he produced a series of radio plays for National Public Radio and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. He was also the recipient of two Peabody Medals, an Emmy, and a Golden Globe. Corwin lived to 101, dying in 2011. To hear an excerpt from Hollywood Fights Back, click here.

“The ability of Americans to toss off oppressive characters is the most rewarding aspect, to me, of U.S. history.” --Norman Corwin

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.