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Original Columbia Presents Corwin header art

The Columbia Presents Corwin Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Columbia Presents Corwin

Norman Corwin ca. 2005
Norman Corwin ca. 2005

Norman Corwin and Ray Kremer at the sound effects console ca. 1944
Norman Corwin and Ray Kremer at the sound effects console ca. 1944

Corwin, flanked by Regina Reynic to his right and Deems Taylor to his left, with Bernard Rogers at the piano, ca. 1947
Corwin, flanked by Regina Reynic to his right and Deems Taylor to his left, with Bernard Rogers at the piano, ca. 1947

Bernard Rogers, left and Deems Taylor, right, ca. 1947
Bernard Rogers, left and Deems Taylor, right, ca. 1947

Orson Welles, left and Norman Corwin, right discuss 14 August script
Orson Welles, left and Norman Corwin, right discuss Fourteen August script


Radio icon Norman Corwin has, over a continuing seventy-five year career, created some of Radio, Television, Stage and Film's most innovative, poignant, thought-provoking dramatizations of modern Entertainment history. Beginning with The Columbia Network's series of ground-breaking Radio productions, The Columbia Workshop, Norman Corwin was at the forefront of experimental Radio over the eleven year run of CBS' remarkable Columbia Presents' series.

Over the series' run, the network showcased several distinct Corwin projects, in addition to his numerous independent contributions to the Columbia Workshop series, proper:

  • County Seat
  • Words Without Music
  • The Pursuit Of Happiness
  • So This is Radio
  • We Take Your Word
  • 26 By Corwin
  • The Pursuit of Happiness
  • An American In England
  • Columbia Presents Corwin
  • One World Flight
  • Passport For Adams
  • This Is War
  • On A Note of Triumph

As each new series aired, anticipation of Corwin's next project would become even more eagerly anticipated. Working with a core group of CBS' youngest and brightest--including Deems Taylor, Bernard Rogers, Lyn Murray, Bernard Herrmann, and Maurice Goldman--Corwin was basically given his head to develop whichever new production that took his interest. Note the inclusion of two of CBS' finest musical talents--Lyn Murray and Bernard Herrmann. The underlying musical accompaniment to virtually all of Corwin's pieces were key to the atmosphere and gravitas associated with the dramatic--or fanciful--arcs of Corwin's scripts.

CBS provides Norman Corwin yet another major showcase

Columbia Presents Corwin was a two-season showcase combining previously broadcast Corwin dramatizations, as well as several new and even more innovative productions. The first season aired March 7, 1944, running for twenty-four weeks, and twenty-one unique scripts. The second season aired July 3, 1945 and ran for eight weeks and six unique scripts, famously including one somewhat impromptu script of only 15 minutes, titled simply, Fourteen August, a hastily prepared, yet passionately effective epitaph to the declaration of Victory over Japan on August 14, 1945.

Building on many of his similarly innovative and thought-provoking productions from the Columbia Workshop series, Corwin opened Season One of Columbia Presents Corwin with a wonderful satire of the Movie Industry titled "Movie Primer." Building on the similarly titled "Radio Primer", the first of his 26 By Corwin CBS showcase of 1941, both 'primers' examined the self-importance of both industries, lampooned some of the pomposity, and subtlely outlined a framework for how to improve them. One of the hallmarks of Corwin's wonderfully effective social critiques over the years was balancing his often biting criticism with constructive and creative suggestions on how to improve on the subject under examination. As such, even his most ardent critics over the years couldn't help but admire the manner in which Corwin framed his brilliantly constructed social arguments.

Corwin's gift for zeroing in on the absolute core of a social or political issue, dissecting it, exposing its shortcomings, then brilliantly and sensitively making the case for how to resolve them, consistently evoked tears of laughter as often as tears of self-reflection in most of his listeners. Given Corwin's remarkable record of highly introspective and brutally honest depictions of both sides of most of society's dilemmas, Corwin consistently attracted the very finest dramatic talent, including Orson Welles, Martin Gabel, Glenn Ford, Everett Sloane, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, Robert Benchley, Frederic March, John Hodiak, Ronald Colman, Groucho Marx, Norman Lloyd, and Kennan Wynn. If you spotted several alumni of Mercury Theatre, it's no accident. Corwin had also been a frequent collaborator with Orson Welles and John Houseman. All three were certainly innovators--on the Stage, in Film and over Radio.

Rarely preachy, with the possible exception of topics in which Corwin himself was most personally invested, Corwin invariably first wove an amazingly detailed tapestry for each of his productions, then using that vivid tapestry as a backdrop, overlayed his key points and critiques against that backdrop. The technique provided the listener both a visual and aural image against which to compare and contrast the points Corwin attempted to highlight, dramatize, or resolve.

An extraordinarily diverse thinker, Corwin's subjects spanned the gamut of human interaction, development, scientific aspiration, and political interaction--on a global scale. Given the often sensitive or controversial subject matter Corwin chose over the years, it's a tribute to his creativity and direction that his productions engendered almost univeral interest and admiration from supporters and critics alike.

Corwin's dramatic commentaries, observations and dramatizations were usually perfectly timed with the pulse and evolution of American political and social turmoil following the social engineering of the FDR years, the aftermath of a second World War, and the onset of an often fascist response to the growing Communist presence throughout the world.

Between 1941 and 1954, continued retrospectives of Corwin's most effective dramatizations surfaced during critical junctures of America's cultural evolution, especially the key years following the onset of The Atomic Age which dramatically affected the balance of power and ideology throughout the World. Indeed, Corwin's social dramatizations and commentaries were so effective that verbatim retrospectives of his Radio broadcasts resurfaced again in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Indeed, Corwin's universal appeal is touching even more of an audience as the World enters the 21st Century and finds it beset with a chillingly reminiscent replay of many of the social, economic, religious, and political tragedies that plaqued the first half of the 2oth Century. National Public Radio has already undertaken several retrospectives of Corwin's body of work and HBO's brilliant winner of the 2005 Oscar® for Best Documentary Short Subject, A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, also celebrates the career of America's "poet laureate of radio drama."

In this respect, Corwin's brilliant observations on global society are as accurate today as they were when they were first broadcast. All the more reason to give them another listen--and learn from Corwin's prophetic lessons all over again.

[Update Note: We communicated with Mr. Corwin regarding Mr. Corwin's recollections regarding the actual length of 'Fourteen August', his collaboration with Orson Welles upon the announcement of V-J Day. Here's what we got back from Mr. Corwin:

"On August 14, 1945, Norman broadcast his 15-minute show titled “Fourteen August” starring Orson Welles. On August 19, 1945, CBS requested that an extended 30-minute version air. This version is titled “God and Uranium” and stars Orson Welles and Olivia de
. "

We thank Mike Kacey of Anthracite Films for helping us place these inquiries with Mr. Corwin]

Series Derivatives:

Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Social Dramas, Commentaries and Varieties
Network(s): CBS
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): Season One: 44-03-07 01 Movie Primer

Season Two: 45-07-03 01 Unity Fair

Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): Season One: 44-03-07 to 44-08-15; CBS; Twenty-two, 30-minute programs; Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m.
Season Two: 45-07-03 to 45-08-21; CBS; Eight, 30-minute programs (with the exception of Fourteen August, which only aired for 15 minutes); Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m.
Syndication: None
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s): Season One: Norman Corwin
Season Two: Norman Corwin
Principal Actors: Orson Welles, Martin Gabel, Glenn Ford, Everett Sloane, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, Robert Benchley, Frederic March, John Hodiak, Ronald Colman, Groucho Marx, Norman Lloyd, and Kennan Wynn
Recurring Character(s): None
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): Season One:
Season Two:
Writer(s) Season One: Norman Corwin
Season Two: Norman Corwin
Music Direction: Season One: Lyn Murray, Lud Gluskin, Bernard Herrmann, Earl Robinson
Season Two: Lyn Murray, Bernard Herrmann, Leopold Stokowski.
Musical Theme(s): Varied with the production.
Announcer(s): Season One:
Season Two:
Estimated Scripts or
Episodes in Circulation: 27
Total Episodes in Collection: 27

Billboard magazine follow up review of Columbia Presents Corwin from April 1 1944
Billboard magazine follow up review of Columbia Presents Corwin from April 1 1944
RadioGOLDINdex (David Goldin), Jay Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

All above cited provenances are in error in one form or another. The most helpful provenance was the log of the RadioGOLDINdex.

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc

There are several notable problems with the currently circulating logs and descriptions of this historic series of programs. To begin with, the Fourteen August exemplar in current circulation is invariably mis-annotated as '2nd Half Only', or words to that effect. In point of fact the Fourteen August program was aired in its entirety as the single 15-minute production of both seasons of Columbia Presents Corwin. There never was a 1st or 2nd half. It was--and always will be--a 15-minute program. No more, no less. Indeed, given the extraordinary personal effort mounted by both Norman Corwin and Orson Welles to even get Fourteen August assembled in time for that night's broadcast, it's a tribute to both of them to have even mounted it in time in the first place.

On a minor note, there are several subtle changes cited in the titles of some of the programs of both Seasons, as noted in the detailed log below.

In addition there are two significant, previously unexplained network-wide preemptions noted in the log that follows.

All provenances and annotations are precisely as transcribed from their corresponding, contemporaneous newspaper articles and Radio Listings.

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[Date, title, and episode column annotations in
red refer to either details we have yet to fully provenance or other unverifiable information as of this writing. Red highlights in the text of the 'Notes' columns refer to information upon which we relied in citing dates, date or time changes, or titles.]

Columbia Presents Corwin Radio Program Log [Season 1]

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
Movie Primer
Premiere Episode

NORMAN CORWIN, ingenious explorer in new dramatic techniques for radio, presents "Movie Primer," a zestful satire on Hollywood with Everett Sloane and Minerva Pious in the leading roles, to launch his latest series "Columbia Presents Corwin" on Tuesday over KGLO-CBS from 9 to ,9:30 p. m. Corwin produces and" directs the series, and writes most of the plays. Recently returned from Hollywood, Corwin lampoons the film industry in "Movie Primer" with the same spirit CORWIN found in his earlier and highly successful "Radio Primer." Virtually every phase of movie making—from the Hays office to horse operas—is examined and taken for a merry ride.

New Program
9 p. m.—Columbia Presents Corwin (WBBM): new series of plays, produced, directed and written by Norman Corwin. Premiere, "Movie Primer." satire on movie industry, starring Everett Sloane and Minerva Pious.
The Long Name None Could Spell
9 p. m. — Corwin (WBBM):
Eduard Benes, president of Czechoslovakia, speaking from London, introduces, "The Long Name None Could Spell," Corwin tribute to Czechs.
Lonesome Train
NORMAN CORWIN. making the first broadcast before an audience in his new series, "Columbia Presents Corwin," produces and directs "The Lonesome Train," radio cantata based on the railway cortege of Abraham Lincoln, Tuesday on KGLO-CBS at 9 p. m. The lyrics are by Millard Lampell. with music by Earl Robinson, composer of the famed "Ballad for Americans." Lyn Murray conducts.
Savage Encounter
9 p. m. — Columbia Presents Corwin (WBBM):
"Savage Encounter," adventure fantasy of an American flier forced down on an undiscovered and unexplored island in South Pacific.
The Odyssey of Runyon Jones
9 p. m. — Columbia Presents
Corwin (WBBM): "The Odyssey of Runyon Jones." fantasy of a boy and his lost dog, with Michael Artist, Hester Sondergaard and Arthur Vinton.
You Can Dream, Inc.
9 p. m. — Columbia Presents
Corwin (WBBM): world premiere of radio drama, "You Can Dream, Inc." original musical score includes "Concerto for Typewriter," by Alexander Semmler.
9 p. m. — Columbia Presents
Corwin (WBBM): Fredric March in Corwin drama, "Untitled."
Dorie Got A Medal
9 p. m. — Columbia Presents
Corwin (WBBM): "Dorie Got AMedal" tribute to Negro mess attendant at Pearl Harbor
The Cliché Expert
9 p. m. — Norman Corwin
(WBBM): "The Cliche Expert." based on series of articles by humorist Frank Sullivan.
[Metropolis Trilogy 1]

9 p. m. — Norman Corwin
(WBBM): "Cromer," story of wartorn English village.
New York - A Tapestry For Radio
[Metropolis Trilogy 2]

9 p. m. — Norman Corwin
(WBBM): presents "New York," second in trilogy of three cities depicting the metropolis in terms of music.
Tel Aviv
[Metropolis Trilogy 3]

9 p. m. — Columbia Presents
Corwin (WBBM): "
Tel Aviv," final program in trilogy of three cities.

WBBM to Air Story of Tel-Aviv
A picture of Tel-Aviv and its people at war against the Axis will be presented over WBBM Tuesday at 9 p. m. as a feature of the "Columbia Presents Corwin" series. Written by Norman Corwin and starring film actor Robert Young, the broadcast will tell the story of Palestine Jewry's devotion to the cause of the United Nations and will describe life in the Jewish national home.
9 p. m. — Columbia Presents
Corwln (WBBM):Memorial day
repeat performance of
," case history of an average
American soldier who dies
in battle; Fredric March, narrator.
American Trilogy 1 - Carl Sandburg
9 p. m. — Columbia Presents
Corwln (WBBM): first of literary
trilogy, "Sandburg," with Charles
Laughton in leading role.
American Trilogy 2 - Wolfiana
American Trilogy 3 - Walt Whitman
9 p. m. — Norman Corwin
(WBBM):presents '"Whitman," with Charles Laughton as narrator.
-- Preempted --
"REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPH MARTIN of Massachusetts, permanent chairman of the Republican national convention, will speak over KGLO-CBS as the convention goes into its second day at the Chicago stadium, Tuesday, 4 p. m. He'will be heard directing convention procedure.
Former President Herbert Hoover, and Representative-Clare Boothe Luce of Connecticut, will be heard over the Columbia network when they address the night session of the Republican national convention in Chicago, Tuesday. Their speeches, while scheduled for 9 to 10 p .m., will be broadcast in full, and beyond that time limit if necessary.

Home for the 4th

-- Preempted --
THE ANNUAL All-Star baseball game
The Moat Farm Murder
CHARLES LAUGHTON, who was heard in Norman Corwin's recent literary trilogy on Carl Sandburg. Thomas Wolfe and Walt Whitman, returns to "Columbia Presents Corwin" as the leading player in "The Moat Farm Murder." produced and directed by Corwin for his Tuesday program over KGLO-CBS at 9 p. m. The story was first brought to Corwin's attention by Laughton himself, who became so engrossed in it one time while traveling on the London Underground, he rode 3 stations past his stop. Music for the broadcast is composed by Bernard Herrmann, CBS symphonic director.
El Capitan and the Corporal
A Pitch To Reluctant Buyers
9 p. m. — Columbia Presents
Corwin (WBBM): Martin Gabel in
Pitch for Reluctant Buyers." •
A Very Fine Type Girl
"A VERY FINE TYPE GIRL," written especially for Minerva Pious, who plays her first serious starring role in this drama, will be presented by Norman Corwin on his series over KGLO-CBS Tuesday at 9 p. m.
Miss Pious is the famed "Mrs. Nussbaum" of Allen's Alley. She has been heard in a number of Corwin broadcasts during the current series of "Columbia Presents Corwin," as a supporting player.
"A Very Fine Type Girl" follows the thematic line of two previous Corwin shows, "Home For the Fourth" and "El Capitan and the Corporal," in which soldiers on leave were 'brought up against civilian attitudes toward the war. The entire program is written, directed and produced by Corwin.
There Will Be Time Later
[ Last Episode of Season 1 ]

Joe Julian and Paul Mann, regulars on the Norman Corwin CBS series, often alternate roles. Recently, when Corwin wanted the effect of a man running up and down stairs, Julian, who was playing the lead, had on rubber heels, so actually stepped into Mann's shoes, which he borrowed for the broadcast.

Columbia Presents Corwin Radio Program Log [Season 2]

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
Unity Fair
CBS 9 New Norman Corwin play series in place of inner Sanctum; opener postponed from June 17 to be "Unity Pair." cast including Groucho Marx and Peggy Ryan ...

NORMAN CORWIN'S new series, "Columbia Presents Corwin," makes' its initial appearance on KGLO-CBS at 8 p. m Tuesday. First broadcast of the Corwin series is "
Unity Fair " with Alfred Drake and Peggy Ryan in the leading roles, and with music by Earl Robinson, E. Y. Harburg and Burton Lane. The "curtain raiser" will originate in Hollywood, with subsequent programs coming from New York.
Keenan Wynn, screen actor seen in "Since You Went Away," "See Here, Private Hargrove" and other films, has been cast as a carnival barker on Norman Corwin's "Unity Fair." Other roles in the musical, previously announced, are played by Alfred Drake Peggy Ryan, Groucho Marx, and June Richmond. Music is by E Y Harburg Earl Robinson and Burton Lane.
NORMAN CORWIN has scheduled "Daybreak," as the 2nd broadcast for "Columbia Presents Corwin" Tuesday, at 8 p. m. over KGLO-CBS.
Daybreak" was first presented by the CBS author-producer-director on June 22. 1941, in "26 By Corwin," with Frank Gallop as the Pilot, and with a musical score by Lyn Murray. It is a fanciful journey around the world with the dawn, and is described by the Pilot in the following words:
"A day grows older only as you stand and watch it coming at you. Otherwise it's continuous. If you keep a half a degree ahead of sunup on the world's horizons, you'd see new light always breaking on some slope of ocean or some patch of land. A morning can be paced by trailing night. This we shall do: where we begin, we shall return to, circling the earth meanwhile "
The Undecided Molecule
"'THE UNDECIDED MOLECULE," Norman Corwin's first rhymed fantasy since he wrote "The Plot to Overthrow Christmas" in 1940, is scheduled as the 3rd program on the CBS author-producerdirector's new series, "Columbia Presents Corwin" Tuesday over KGLO-CBS at 8 p. m.
"The Undecided Molecule" tells about the commotion caused in the world of nature when one little Molecule, X, finds be cannot make up his mind which mass of matter to join. Put on trial for his delinquency, he is shown that the entire natural economy of the world will be upset unless he forthwith joins something—either animal vegetable or mineral. The Molecule finally decides to become attached to Man, since with all his faults, Man is still a pretty wonderful being. The entire production is written, directed and produced by Corwin.
New York - A Tapestry For Radio
BROUGHT back by popular request, one of Norman Corwin's great classics of the air, "New York—A Tapestry for Radio," is scheduled for a repeat broadcast on "Columbia Presents Corwin" Tuesday at 8 p. m. over KGLO-CBS. Orson Welles will be the narrator.
"New York—A Tapestry for Radio" was first broadcast by Corwin on May 16, 1944, with Martin Gabel as the narrator. It is a poetic and dramatic concept of New York as a living example of how people of various races, creeds and colors manage to get along peacefully with each other, setting a pattern for the entire world. A recording of the program was presented by Corwin to Mayor LaGuardia of New York City, for the city archives and the municipal library.
The musical score for "New York—A Tapestry for Radio" was composed by Lyn Murray and Frederick Steiner. The broadcast was originally scheduled in the current series for July 10 but was post poned until July 24, when Welles became available for the principal role.
A Walk With Nick
A NEW Norman Corwin drama, "A Walk With Nick," described by its author as "a love story with timely overtones," is scheduled for the "Columbia Presents Corwin" broadcast of Tuesday, July 31 over KGLO-CBS at 8 p. m. from Hollywood.
"A Walk With Nick" tells the story of a returning soldier who finds his sweetheart has deserted him for another man, and consequently is bitter and disillusioned. When he meets the other man however, and takes a short' walk with him, he finds his rival has been fighting the forces of evil at home just as much as he had been fighting them in battle, and that the girl, far from falling in love with the other man, had just joined forces with him in the struggle.
The entire production is written, produced and directed by Corwin. John Hodiak, currently seen as Major Joppolo in the film "A Bell for Adano," and Joan Lorring, sensational young screen actress who appeared with Bette Davis in "The Corn Is Green," have been engaged by Corwin for the 2 leading roles in "A Walk With Nick."
Savage Encounter
GLENN FORD, film star, who was recently honorably discharged from the U.S. Marines, plays the leading role as an American airman in Norman Corwin's "Savage Encounter," to be broadcast over KGLO-CBS on "Columbia Presents Corwin" Tuesday, at 8 p. m.
   "Savage Encounter," first broadcast by Corwin on his series last year, is a thrilling philosophic drama in which an American airman gets lost on an undiscovered Pacific island and finds the natives there speak only Elizabethan English, which they had learned from a castaway sailor 300 years before.  When the flyer tells the natives what has been going on in the outside world, he comes to be looked upon as a savage himself, and is put on trial to justify the progress of the white man's civilization.
   Before his entry into the Marines, Ford appeared in "Martin Eden," "So Ends Our Night," and in other films, and will shortly be seen with Bette Davis in "A Stolen Life."

Norman Corwin's show for next Tuesday night (August 14) was written especially for Charles Laughton. It is called "
L'Affaire Gumpert" and the star, and his wife Elsa Lanchester will appear in it.
Fourteen August
45-08-14 Mason City Globe-Gazette
IN view of the Japanese situation, Norman Corwin is terminating—-on or before Tuesday, Aug. 14--his current "Columbia Presents Corwin" series to devote all his time to a special deadline assignment for the CBS network.

Previously announced for Aug. 14 was "L'Affaire Gumpert," starring Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester to be heard over KGLO at 8 p. m. Adherence to the Aug. 14 schedule will be subject to developments in the Pacific war, but in any event "L'Affaire Gumpert" will cut short the series, which started July 3 and was scheduled to run for 8 weeks. The Aug. 14 presentation is the 7th in. the series.
During the current series Corwin presented "Unity Fair," with Keenan Wynn, Groucho Marx, Alfred Drake and June Richmond; "The Undecided Molecule," with Sylvia Sidney, Groucho Marx, Keenan Wynn, Robert Benchley and Norman Lloyd; "A Walk With Nick" with John Hodiak and Joan Lorring; "Daybreak," with Ronald Colman; "Savage Encounter," with Glenn Ford; and "New York— A Tapestry for Radio," with Orson Welles.
God and Uranium
A Day of Prayer Special

The Special program was aired over CBS nationally at both 7:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m on President Truman's declared National Day of Prayer, 19 August 1945.

[Note: Following the quickly assembled Fourteen August program of August 14, 1945, CBS asked Corwin and Welles to assemble a full 30-minute presentation, which in addition to the original Fourteen August presentation included Olivia De Haviland and Orson Welles in another 15 minutes of programming.]
l'affaire Gumpert
[ Last Episode ]

Columbia Presents Corwin Radio Program Biographies

Norman Lewis Corwin

Newspaperman, Journalist, Poet, Writer, Screenwriter, Playwright, Producer, Director, Political Activist, Professor
(1910 - 2011 )

Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.


1929 Rhymes and Cadences
1938 Columbia Workshop
1938 County Seat
1939 Words Without Music
1939 The Pursuit Of Happiness
1939 So This Is Radio
1940 We Take Your Word
1940 Forecast
1940 Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
1940 Cavalcade Of America
1941 The Free Company
1941 We Hold These Truths
1942 This Is War
1942 An American In England
1942 The Victory Front
1943 The Cresta Blanca Carnival
1943 Norman Corwin (Audition)
1943 Long Name None Could Spell
1943 Passport For Adams
1944 Silver Theatre
1944 Columbia Presents Corwin
1944 Texaco Star Theatre
1944 This Is My Best
1944 The American School Of the Air
1945 On A Note Of Triumph
1946 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre
1946 Mercury Summer Theatre
1946 Stars In the Afternoon
1947 One World Flight
1947 Hollywood Fights Back
1949 Author Meets the Critics
1949 What's the Word
1949 The New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
1950 Document A/777
1950 Faith In Our Time
1952 Lux Radio Theatre
1979 Sears Radio Theatre
1983 Six By Corwin (NPR)

Norman Corwin at his creative best, ca. 1944

Norman Corwin in NBC Studio with Peggy Burt, ca. 1937

Norman Corwin camps it up during a rare in-costume moment during RCA's Magic Key, ca. 1937

The Maestro, in his element, ca. 1942

Norman Corwin in control booth for 1945's Untitled for Columbia Presents Corwin
Norman Corwin in control booth for 1945's Untitled for Columbia Presents Corwin

Corwin's Lair, looking down from the control booth, directing Season One of Columbia Presents Corwin, ca. 1944
Corwin's Lair, looking down from the control booth, directing Season One of Columbia Presents Corwin, ca. 1944

Corwin, flanked by Regina Reynic to his right and Deems Taylor to his left, with Bernard Rogers at the piano, ca. 1947
Corwin, flanked by Regina Reynic to his right and Deems Taylor to his left, with Bernard Rogers at the piano, ca. 1947

Norman Corwin, directing live radio program, ca. 1944

Corwin discusses We Hold These Truths script with Jimmy Stewart, ca. 1941
Corwin discusses We Hold These Truths script with Jimmy Stewart, ca. 1941

On A Note of Triumph 78 RPM Record, ca. 1944
On A Note of Triumph 78 RPM Record Label, ca. 1944

Two great Radio Normans--Lear, left and Corwin, right, ca. 2005
Two great Radio Normans--Lear, left and Corwin, right, ca. 2005

Orson Welles, left and Norman Corwin, right, going over Fourteen August script, August 14, 1945
Orson Welles, left and Norman Corwin, right, going over Fourteen August script, August 14, 1945

Norman Corwin, ca. 2005

Corwin examines his first, well-deserved Oscar, ca. 2005

Norman Corwin is approaching one hundred years of age as we prepare this biography. Corwin's father Samuel lived to the age of 112. We can only hope that Samuel's sons will be as long-lived as the father. Norman Corwin's continuing legacy of thought-provoking, insightful, brilliantly crafted and prosaic commentary on the human condition have fashioned Norman Corwin into one of American History's greatest writers, visionaries, dramatists and philosophers.

Born and raised in East Boston, Corwin was transfixed by Radio as a medium from its initial broad casts. A child prodigy, Corwin was reciting poetry at the age of five, writing full-length stories at the age of seven, was a voracious reader, and an avid classical music proponent since the time he was a child. Reportedly first listening to a makeshift crystal set assembled by his older brother Al, from a cylindrical Quaker Oats box, both brothers soon became avid Radio enthusiasts.

Mentored by a devoted high school English teacher, Corwin acquired a life-long interest in poetry, especially that of Keats, Shelley and The Brownings. Upon early graduation from high school, Corwin began working as a journalist at the age of 17, with Massachusetts' Greenfield Recorder, then the Springfield Republican. Covering a variety of local community interest stories, Corwin's efforts covered sporting events--written in iambic pentameter no less, local color activities, movie reviews, and human interest stories.

His first exposure to professional Radio broadcasting came with an opportunity to air an interview regarding one of the human interest stories he'd written about. Station WBZA soon needed a newsreader and sought to have the position filled with someone from the local newspaper. Corwin fit the bill perfectly. By 1929 Corwin had fashioned his own broadcast over WBZA, a combination of piano interludes interwoven with Corwin's orginal poetry readings. He called the program Rhymes and Cadences. If this sounds a reminiscent chord, it's instructive to remember that this is how the legendary Orson Welles embarked on his own Radio career, airing a similar format entitled Musical Reveries in 1936.

Indeed, the similarities between these two great Radio visionaries is entirely appropriate. We've chronicled Orson Welles' extraordinary career elsewhere, but it's instructive to point out the fascinating series of parallels in the Radio careers of both Radio legends. You may recall that Orson Welles undertook his own wanderlust through the United Kingdom and Europe as a young man. Norman Corwin's exposure to The Continent came in 1931, as he traveled to Europe with his older brother, Emil. The fomenting fascism, social and religious unrest, and political turmoil he witnessed first-hand throughout Europe very much shaped the path Corwin's broadcasting career would take from that point forward.

Corwin returned to the U.S. and in 1935 began working as a full-fledged newsman for Radio WLW in Cinncinati, Ohio. Almost immediately encountering one of the Post-Great Depression sore spots first-hand, Corwin learned that any on air reportage of collective bargaining efforts--even organizing for collective bargaining--were grounds for immediate dismissal. He objected to the policy and soon found himself fired after only two weeks on the job. He ultimately took up the issue with the ACLU's backing and eventually got the policy changed--long after he'd departed Cincinnati.

The next stop for Corwin was The Big Apple, where he found work as an entry level publicist for 2oth Century-Fox. He soon leveraged his contacts there to yet another proposal for a local poetry/musicale format program to Radio station WQXR. He was soon airing another program similar in format to Rhymes and Cadences, this one cleverly named Poetic License. First airing in 1936, Poetic License showcased some of New York's early poetry luminaries, among them Louis Ginsberg, father of legendary Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

The first major network to take an interest in Corwin was NBC, who invited Corwin to appear on RCA's Magic Key, beginning in 1937. NBC was less than impressed and in a moment of fortuitous serendipity for Corwin, released him from his obligation to NBC. Fortuitous, because within a year, a CBS executive would hear one of Corwin's Poetic License broadcasts and offer Corwin a position as Radio Director for $125 a week. Needless to say, that was astounding pay for a young man of that era.

So it was that a few days shy of his 28th birthday, Corwin began directing CBS' on-air engineering, writing, and production efforts for the first time. Within a few months he was tapped to direct his first Columbia Workshop experimental drama, The Red Badge of Courage, airing July 9, 1938.

In yet another ironic crossed path with Orson Welles, the night of October 31, 1938 found Corwin rehearsing the pilot for a newly proposed poetry program he was developing, tentatively titled Norman Corwin's Words Without Music. In the studio just below Corwin, none other than Orson Welles and Mercury Theatre of The Air were broadcasting their infamous War of The Worlds broadcast. Oblivious to what was taking place, Corwin reportedly only learned of it once CBS' switchboards began lighting up on every floor.

Produced by no less than legendary William N. Robson, Norman Corwin's Words Without Music ultimately aired in production a month later, with Corwin agonizing over the slightest nuance of each broadcast. It was during Corwin's Words Without Musc broadcast of December 25, 1938 that he introduced his famous "The Plot to Overthrow Christmas" to a listening audience, a program that would be repeated over and over again throughout CBS' history.

Within a year, Corwin had written, directed, produced and broadcast two of his most enduring masterpieces: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas [Words Without Music] and They Fly Through the Air with The Greatest of Ease [Columbia Workshop]. By then helping others develop their own experimental Radio dramas, Corwin found himself directing Earl Robinson's stirring Ballad for Americans, and Lucille Fletcher's biting satire, My Client, Curley. Earl Robinson would go on to collaborate with Corwin on several of his Columbia Presents Corwin productions.

Mr. Corwin took most of 1940 to work as a screenwriter for RKO Studios. Unimpressed, Corwin soon realized that he'd had far more artistic freedom back at CBS. So it was that upon returning to CBS, he was offered control of fully six months worth of Columbia Workshop programming. The resulting 26 By Corwin was Norman Corwin's first unbridled artistic opportunity in Broadcast Radio.

What followed were 26 weeks worth of Norman Corwin's dramatic passion. Corwin's creativity could be fully unleashed and fully explored for the following 26-week marathon of writing, directing, producing and agonizing over the result. But the agony couldn't last long, since from moments after each broadcast's sign-off, the process would begin anew, with carte blanche and all that a blank piece of paper means to a creative person--both the pros and the cons.

In the end, he pulled it off--in spades. 1941 became one of the most triumphant years of Corwin's creative work experience to date. Indeed to this day, several of those twenty-six Corwin efforts have become standalone classics of the Golden Age of Radio. Corwin wrapped up the year in extraordinary fashion with one of Radio History's most stirring paeans to American Democracy ever aired--We Hold These Truths. We Hold These Truths was a multimedia celebration of America's Bill of Rights. The broadcast was heard by the largest single audience in Radio History up to that point. Its timing was absolutely exquisite--indeed, almost prescient, given the life-altering developments of the morning of December 7, 1941. The project wasn't developed as a response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Indeed it was still under development and being written by Corwin the afternoon that he first heard the news about the attack.

Starring no less than Jimmy Stewart, Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles, Edward Arnold, Lionel Barrymore, Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Marjorie Main, Rudy Vallee and Bob Burns, the score was written by legendary composer Bernard Herrmann. And almost as a footnote to this remarkable production, FDR himself addressed the country during the production. The Star Spangled Banner was performed by the full New York Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by no less than Leopold Stokowski himself. The mind reels to imagine a Radio broadcast with that much prestigious talent during one airing today. Call it 1941's version of 'We Are The Children'. That's about what it amounted to. The costs alone today would be astronomical.

We Hold These Truths holds up just as well today. I have yet to share an airing of my recording of We Hold These Truths with anyone without evoking a remarkable reaction from them--young, old, and every age in between. It's quite simply one of the most stirring, patriotic, genuinely moving reminders of what this country has fought to defend for almost 240 years as of this writing.

Needless to say, by 1942 Norman Corwin's work was rapidly approaching legendary status. Nor did he shirk from the challenge to pursue even greater triumphs. His broadcasting excellence surmounted even commercial network rivalries. He was commissioned by the Office of War Information to develop the stirring This Is War series which was mandated to air simultaneously over all four major networks.

During 1943, Norman Corwin was dispatched to England to cover the War effort from their perspective. A unique joint effort of The BBC and U.S. broadcasters, the amazing recordings Corwin returned with resulted in the wonderfully inspirational An American in England series, showcasing the indomitable spirit of Wartime Great Britain. The resulting series was quite understandably one of the War effort's most inspirational series to that date.

As hard as it is to imagine, Corwin's penultimate masterpiece had yet to be produced. I say penultimate, for good reason, as you'll soon discover. . .

With the end of the War in Europe in sight, Corwin undertook to develop an hour-long, live studio observance of the end of War in Europe. The resulting On A Note of Triumph became Corwin's crowning masterpiece. Again scored by Bernard Herrmann, not only did it set another record for largest simultaneous listening audience, it was pressed as a 78 RPM record for further distribution. The first pressing sold out almost overnight, as did a hardcover print of the script, which became an overnight best-seller in its own right. Both the records and scripts were pressed and published again and again to keep up with the unprecedented demand.

Corwin, aided by Orson Welles, rose to the occasion yet again, with even less preparation, as V.J. Day finally--and quite unexpectedly--arrived on 14 August 1945. L'Affaire Gumpert was the Columbia Presents Corwin program that had been scheduled for airing on August 14th. Never one to shirk a challenge, Norman Corwin, with less than eleven hours' notice, threw together the final epitaph on World War II, with a minimal sound track, a single sound effect and only Orson Welles' magnificent voice as his primary artistic tool. And yet, irrespective of the absurd limitations placed on this single, 15-minute program of the run, you see the effort of Radio's two giants, converging to produce a miraculous post-script to the most bloody, expensive, gut-wrenching five years our young Nation had ever experienced. And quite frankly who else could possibly have ever pulled it off but these two geniuses?

To this day, one needs to pinch oneself to be reminded of the extraordinary constraints imposed on both Welles and Corwin to pull off Fourteen August at all. And yet they did it. And they could only have done it over Radio. In the final analysis, they did what both their extraordinary backgrounds had prepared them to do--and at the time that their country needed their special individual talents the most. It's beyond prosaic. It was fated. It was beyond Kismet. It was their destiny from the moment each of them separately undertook their first independent Radio broadcasts, each in their own rendition of a mixed poetry/musicale format. The ironies and coincidences are beyond serendipity. They're cosmic.

As announced, L'Affaire Gumpert was indeed Corwin's last Columbia Presents Corwin. Anything else would have been post-climactic. What could possibly have topped Fourteen August? The entire nation was sharing a combination of mass delerium and a combined, cathartic sigh of immense relief. It was time to move on. The machinery of War was destined to be scrapped and fashioned back into the plowshares that many of those same machines of War had been manufactured from.

And so it was with the two giants of Radio. Each ultimately going their own way again. Each having shared a cosmic moment of catharsis with an entire Nation. What could possibly have topped the emotion of that singular moment of 14 August?

There's no question that Norman Corwin, despite his amazing professional triumphs of the World War II years, went on to even greater triumphs for the remander of his storied career. As recently as 2005, he worked tirelessly to help produce and promote 2005's Ocscar winning Documentary Short Subject, On A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin. How fitting a tribute, but some might well ask, what took them so long?

We love our heroes. And we need our heroes even more today, as we engage in an economic battle for our financial survival. Much the same survival effort Norman Corwin's own parents had to endure while Norman was still in high school. And so we come full circle. Asking even more from our heroes. Hoping they'll remind us why we fight, why we endure, why we never give in to adversity. And why we vainly expect our heroes to always be there for us at the very instant in history when we need them the most.

Thank God Norman Corwin isn't going anywhere, anytime soon, bless his heart.

[Update: Norman Corwin passed away in his sleep on October 18, 2011 at the age of 101. ]

Keenan Wynn [Francis Xavier Aloysius James Jeremiah Keenan Wynn]
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor

Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.A.


1941 Star Spangled Theatre
1943 Suspense
1944 Kraft Music Hall
1944 Fifth War Loan Drive
1944 Lux Radio Theatre
1944 The Charlie Ruggles Show
1944 Radio Almanac
1945 The RCA Show
1945 Columbia Presents Corwin
1945 The Charlie McCarthy Show
1946 Command Performance
1947 Hollywood Fights Back
1948 The Wynn Show
1951 Guest Star
1954 Bud's Bandwagon
1973 Hollywood Radio Theatre
The New National Guard Show

Keenan Wynn ca. 1945
Keenan Wynn ca. 1945

Keenan Wynn and Lucille Ball ca. 1941
Keenan Wynn and Lucille Ball ca. 1941
Keenan Wynn ca. 1957
Keenan Wynn ca. 1957

Keenan Wynn appeared with is father Ed Wynn and Jack Palance in the critically acclaimed Playhouse 90 production of Rod Serling's Requiem for A Heavyweight the first full 90-minute live Television drama in Television History airing October 11, 1950
Keenan Wynn appeared with is father Ed Wynn and Jack Palance in the critically acclaimed Playhouse 90 production of Rod Serling's Requiem for A Heavyweight the first full 90-minute live Television drama in Television History airing October 11, 1950
Versatile character actor Keenan Wynn was born into a family of performers. His father, famed and beloved comedian Ed Wynn enjoyed a long career in Burlesque, Radio, Television and Film. His maternal grandfather had been a classically trained Shakespearean actor, while his mother, Hilda Keenan, after whom he took his Stage name, had also been a minor actress in her own right.

Raised in very comfortable means, his father was already a noteworthy success on Broadway. Educated in New York's finest schools, upon graduation from high school, Keenan Wynn debuted with The Lakewood Players in Maine, appearing in a production of Accent On Youth. Between the mid-1930s and mid-1940s, Keenan Wynn appeared in another nine Stage plays and Revues, to often critical acclaim.

During the successful run of 1937's Hitch Your Wagon, Keenan Wynn met and married his first wife, actress Eve Abbott, who soon became Wynn's manager, drama coach and professional advisor.

Soon after his marriage, Keenan Wynn began appearing over Radio with greater and greater frequency, during a Radio career that eventually spanned over forty years. Wynn's most notable Radio performances were in several of Norman Corwin's Columbia Workshop experimental Radio productions between 1939 and 1947.

At the same time, Wynn's Film career was taking shape in earnest, with more and more noteworthy roles in a succession of relatively high profile films. Following tryouts with both 2oth Century-Fox and M-G-M, Wynn was offered a contract player position with M-G-M at a reported $300 a week. Wynn's contract with M-G-M found him cast in a roller-coaster array of both B-Movies and first-line feature films, usually cast as either an amusing tough or a somewhat weaselly foil to varying degrees. By 1947, Wynn found himself in several higher profile features, including the last of the classic Thin Man movies, in the role of 'Clinker' Krause, a real reet early Beat generation clarinet player, and one of the key roles in [Swan] Song of The Thin Man (1947).

Finding an equally demanding, yet highly successful career in Television, Keenan Wynn ultimately compiled an impressive record of over 300 appearances on the big and little screens in a career spanning almost sixty years.

Most often remembered as the jingoistic Major 'Bat' Guano in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 Classic, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Keenan Wynn's remarkable career eventually eclipsed that of his own famous father's. Reputedly both loved and universally respected by his peers, Keenan Wynn enjoyed a wonderfully diverse and highly successful, workmanlike career.

Minerva Pious
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor and Comedienne

Birthplace: Odessa, Ukraine, Russia


1933 The Salad Bowl Revue
1934 The Sal Hepatica Revue
1934 The Hour Of Smiles
1935 Town Hall Tonight
1937 Shakespeare Festival
1939 The Fred Allen Show
1940 The Pursuit Of Happiness
1940 The Jello Program
1940 Texaco Star Theatre
1940 Behind the Mike
1941 Columbia Workshop
1941 Lincoln Highway
1942 Henry James and His Orchestra
1943 The Kate Smith Hour
1943 The Jack Benny Program
1944 Mail Call
1944 Columbia Presents Corwin
1944 The Lucky Strike Program
1944 G. I. Journal
1945 The Ed Wynn Show
1945 The Alan Young Show
1945 Radio Hall Of Fame
1946 The Fabulous Dr Tweedy
1946 The Eddie Cantor Show
1946 The Henry Morgan Show
1946 The Pepsodent Show
1947 Duffy's Tavern
1947 Columbia Workshop
1949 The Chesterfield Supper Club
1950 You Are There
1956 Biography In Sound
To the Rear March
In Character: John Brown (far left) with Minerva Pious (far right) and Eileen Douglas and Charlie Cantor from their Fred Allen Show days together.
In Character: John Brown (far left) with Minerva Pious (far right) and Eileen Douglas and Charlie Cantor from their Fred Allen Show days together.

Clockwise from left, Charlie Cantor, Minerva Pious, John Brown, and Eileen Douglas at the NBC mike for the Fred Allen Show
Clockwise from left, Charlie Cantor, Minerva Pious, John Brown, and Eileen Douglas at the NBC mike for the Fred Allen Show.

Minerva Pious with Lionel Stander from The Fred Allen Show, ca. 1939

Minverva Pious as Mrs. Nussbaum in Allen's Alley, ca. 1941

Minerva Pious as Mrs. Pansy Nussbaum, with Fred Allen, ca. 1941
Diminutive Minerva Pious (reportedly her real name) was born and raised in her native Ukraine, then Moscow before emigrating to the U.S. Prior to undertaking a career on the Stage and in Radio, Ms. Pious had worked for an international news syndicate as a copy editor.

The most accurate description of Ms. Pious' early history is found in an interview from the August 16, 1934 edition of The Lowell Sun:

 How Minerva Became A Star

   ""How," repeated tiny Minerva Pious, reaching up to pull a thread off the reporter's cuff, "did I become a radio character actress?"
   "Yes," said the reporter, walking down the stairs six steps so he could be on a level with her eyes.  "And how did you learn all those dialects?"
   "Well, boobitchka, I'll tell you," Minerva said.  "Ich war in Moscow geboren et quand j'ai dix ans je quilte La Russle et viens aux Etats Unis, et, signore questa patria..."
   And out of it all, the reporter, who was something of a linguist himself, gathered an unusual story...not the least unusual part of which was the fact that Miss Pious, who is a character actress on Fred Allen's Wednesday evening Town Hall Tonight program, probably owes her successful position in radio today to the fact that she forgot in the middle of a performance and was fired.
   The performance was not acting, however.  It was playing the piano for a radio singer.  Miss Pious, who always prided herself upon her ability to remember notes, would, under no circumstances, have the music before her at the piano.  In the middle of a performance one night, her memory failed her.  She was fired.
   This ended her work as accompanist and started her on a career as a character actress.  The singer who fired her--Harry Taylor--is none other than Harry Tugend, Fred Allen's assistant and director of Town Hall Tonight, and when the Allen group was looking for a woman who could do Russian dialect in January, 1933, Tugend remembered little Minerva Pious, who wasn't a perfect accompanist, but who was a native Russian.  She has been with the Allen group ever since, speaking all the European dialects, including the Scandanavian.
   Miss Pious was born in Moscow, March 5, 1900.  She had her first stage experience as a child walk-on in a opera in which her father sang the baritone lead.  She went to school in Moscow, Vienna, Paris, and in various American places after her parents brought her to this country.
  Before going into radio she played character bits on the New York stage and worked in the editorial department of a large national and international news syndicate.  She also played in German and French Stage dramas in Salzburg.
   In person, she belies her rather powerful, husky voice.  She is exactly five feet tall, and has brown eyes and dark hair.  She likes bridge and tennis, and has published songs, poetry and prose.  Believe it or not, Minerva Pious is really her name and she is really Russian."

By 1936, Minerva Pious was understudying for Fannie Brice in The Ziegfield Follies over Radio, occasionally actually filling in for her. Given her 4'10" height and 98lb. weight, sopping wet, her voice and projection belied her diminutive stature. A beautiful young actress in her own right, Ms. Pious found herself cast most successfully as a comedienne. Despite the limitations of a predominately aural medium, Ms. Pious' roles over Radio often took advantage of her tiny stature in any number of hiliarious situations.

Her greatest, most enduring success came with The Fred Allen Troupe and its succession of classic Golden Age Radio programs, beginning with Allen's Salad Bowl Revue, and progressing on through over 20 years of association with Fred Allen. Most fondly remembered in her role as Mrs. Pansy Nussbaum, she was one of Fred Allen's most often referenced foils, quickly becoming a beloved fixture with both Allen's ensemble and fans alike.

Her Mrs. Nussbaum character was so universally identified with her that she often found herself guest starring in most of Radio's comedy/variety formats with Kate Smith, Jack Benny, Ed Wynn, Alan Young, Eddie Cantor, Henry Morgan, Bob Hope, and Duffy's Tavern.

The 1940s also found her as a favorite cast member in famed Radio director Norman Corwin's extraordinary productions between 1939 and 1947. A versatile performer, she was as adept in comedic, ethnic roles as in straight dramatic characterizations. Noted for both her timing and quick study, Ms. Pious' career in Radio spanned over twenty-four years.

Minerva Pious transitioned to the Golden Age of Television, appearing as both a comedienne and in straight dramatic roles in melodramas, but was hampered by a hip condition resulting in a chronic limp which somewhat limited her mobility on the big and small screens.

Ms. Pious' last Film appearance was in Joanne Woodward's 1973 vehicle, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams.

Ms. Pious passed away in March of 1979 at the age of either 76 or 79, depending on varying accounts of her birth year.

One of Radio's most memorable comedienne's, Minerva Pious' endearing, malaprop-plagued Mrs. Nussbaum character lives on in hundreds of Radio recordings from The Golden Age of Radio, lovingly preserved in her memory.

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