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Norman Corwin, legendary radio poet, dies at 101

October 18, 2011 |  6:42 pm


Norman Corwin, the legendary writer, director and producer of original radio plays for CBS during the golden age of radio in the 1930s and '40s when he was revered as the "poet of the airwaves," died Tuesday. He was 101.

Corwin, a journalist, playwright, author and Oscar-nominated screenwriter who was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993, died at his home in Los Angeles, said his caregiver, Chris Borjas. The cause was not given.

With his often poetic words, Corwin moved and entertained a generation of listeners tuned to the CBS Radio Network during the late 1930s and '40s with landmark broadcasts ranging from celebrations of the Bill of Rights and the Allied victory in Europe to a light-hearted rhyming play about a demonic plot to overthrow Christmas.

Corwin's programs, which CBS aired without sponsors, are considered classics of the era when radio was the primary news and entertainment venue for Americans.

"He was the best radio writer-producer-director in the whole history of radio," Ray Bradbury, a longtime friend of Corwin's, told The Times in 2002. "There was no one like him. He dominated the field."

Born in Boston on May 3, 1910, Corwin attended public schools in Boston and Winthrop, Mass., and launched his writing career on the Greenfield (Mass.) Recorder at age 17.

He was writing for the Springfield (Mass.) Republican and reading the nightly news on Springfield radio station WBZA in the early '30s when he proposed an alternative to the radio tradition of offering poetry readings accompanied by organ music.

Corwin is survived by two children, daughter, Diane and son, Anthony.

A complete obituary will follow at latimes.com/obits.


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 Photo: Norman Corwin narrates his CBS documentary on flight in 1946. Credit: Los Angeles Times