Emmy Award winning, Peabody Award winning, Tony Nominated playwright, screenwriter, lyricist Sherman Yellen thought he was going to be a painter. An asthmatic child he spent a lot of time in bed drawing and listening to his mothers stories about her life and the lives of her extended family; stories like the one about Cousin Ida the whore of Minsk. Sherman absorbed it all. He attended the High School of Music and Art certain he would be a fine artist but he had very high standards for his work and believed that although a “natural artist” and a “fine draftsman” he would never ” break the barrier” and become a fine artist. He began to write stories, not surprisingly about his family, and discovered what he really is – a writer. Hear the story of his introduction to writing for TV (a play he wrote with Peter Stone who would go on to write many movies including Charade and the Musical 1776 and which starred an outrageous scene stealing Jack Lord who went on to star in Hawaii five-0. Listen to Sherman talk about the way he experiences the act of writing, the “losing of oneself,” and hear a songs from Blackbird – the story of Josephine Baker, a musical for which he wrote both book and lyrics, and which is the West Coast Black Theater Troupe’s current production.continue reading
On December 15th 1941, (following the bombing of Pearl Harbor) President Franklin Delano Roosevelt requested that Norman Corwin’s radio play “We Hold These Truths,” become the first radio program to be carried by all the network stations in the country. Written to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, and starring Edward Arnold, Walter Brennen, Bob Burns, Walter Huston, Marjorie Mane, Edward G Robinson, Corporal James Stewart.continue reading
The second half of my interview with 100 year old Norman Corwin begins with his description of Orson Wells’ narrating “We Hold These Truths,” which Norman wrote to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights and which was rebroadcast 50 years later on NPR to celebrate its 200th anniversary. Hear him tell the story of the program he created for Election Eve, the year that FDR ran against Thomas Dewey, and his unwillingness to be paid for it because of his concern that he would “not be safe” at CBS if he declared himself a Democrat. Norman’s story continues with the description of his relationship with actor Charles Laughton and how this relationship lead to a career in Hollywood and the writing of screenplays for films such as “Lust For Life,” the Vincent Van Gogh story which he wrote for director Vincent Minnelli and starred Kirk Douglas. Finally hear a portion of his radio play “Between American’s” – also narrated by Orson Wells.
And listen next week for the full airing of “We Hold These Truths.”
I’m interrupting the airing of my Bonnie and Clyde The Musical interviews to dedicate the next 3 shows to what I believe is the last interview given by Norman Corwin who died on 10/18/11 at the age of 101. I interviewed Mr. Corwin at his home shortly before his 100th birthday. Propped in his wheelchair, with little capacity to move his ancient body, Mr. Corwin was nonetheless lucid, erudite, and remembered virtually everything about his 70 plus year career. After the interviews I will rebroadcast one of his most beloved radio plays “We Hold These Truths.”
Norman Corwin has been called “the poet laureate of radio,” the Bard of Broadcasting, a “citizen of the world” “and “to radio what Shakespeare was to theater.” He is truly a national treasure. Listen to the hilarious “accidents” which propelled his career. Hear the story of his interview with world’s greatest ashcan roller, (who could roll an ashcan faster and further than anyone without spilling an ash,”) and was the very first interview ever broadcast on radio, to the production,”On a Note of Triumph.,” written to mark the end of the war in Europe, which then president FDR had alerted him was soon to come, so that he could have the piece ready in time.
The Plot to Overthrow Christmas
Orson Welles performs “Between Americans” by Norman Corwin 1 of 3
Orson Welles performs “Between Americans” by Norman Corwin 2 of 3
Orson Welles performs “Between Americans” by Norman Corwin 1 of 3continue reading
I am dedicating this entire show to what I believe is the last interview given by Stuart Kaminsky. Film scholar, professor, screenwriter, author of many non-fiction books about film and film luminaries such as Clint Eastwood and John Huston, Stuart is best known as a writer of mystery. He was a past president of the Mystery Writers of America; where he was awarded its highest honor, that of Grand Master. Many of us struggle to discover who we really are, not so with Stuart. He began writing as soon as he could hold a pencil, and wrote constantly until the day he died. His first mystery was not published until he was 40 years old and still he managed to write 60 of them. Listening to Stuart is indeed listening to someone who always knew and always was exactly who he really was. A unique voice is silenced, and we are diminished by it.continue reading