from jms re: Norman Corwin

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Wed Jun 3 06:17:17 EDT 1998

From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 2 Jun 1998 08:28:44 -0600
Lines: 70

Every so often, Norman's name comes up here, and I get any number of emails
asking about his work, and how to obtain it.  

Norman Corwin is (and has always been) American's pre-eminent radio dramatist,
as well as one hell of an essayist...he has written screenplays (such as the
Oscar nominated Lust for Life), composed cantatas for the UN ("Yes, Speak Out,
Yes"), was a contemporary and friend of Carl Sandburg and Edward R. Murrow (not
to mention Humphrey Bogart and Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton), and his
radio dramas run the gamut from important historical documents ("On a Note of
Triumph" was commissioned to be broadcast on VE day by all three networks), to
light fantasy/sf (from "The Reluctant Molecule" with none other than Groucho
Marx and Vincent Price, to "The Curse of 589" starring William Shatner and Carl
Reiner), to the biography of Miguel de Cervantes ("The Writer with the Lame
Left Hand"), and his watershed collection, "Thirteen by Corwin."

To give you some idea of the kind of actors who come out for a Corwin script,
here are a few of the names who appear on his programs: Charles Kuralt, Pat
Carroll, Franklin D. Roosevelt (yes, you read that right), Jimmy Stewart, Orson
Welles, Edward G. Robinson, Marjorie Maim, Martin Landau, Jack Lemmon, Charles
Durning, Ed Asner, Sammantha Eggar, Norman Lloyd, Frederic March, Robert
Benchley, Henry Morgan, Richard Dysart, Jill Eikenberry, James Earl Jones, Fess
Parker, Esther Rolle, and others, with music conducted by Bernard Herrmann and
Leopold Stokowski among others.

This is a writer who has inspired a generation of other writers, from Rod
Serling to Ray Bradbury, Charles Kuralt, Studs Terkel, Norman Lear, Robert
Altman, Stan Freberg, and somewhere far, far down the list...myself.

Norman's work and his inspiration have been seminal for me as a writer, and as
a person, though I'll never quite hit the same interstellar gulfs he leaves
between his footsteps.  

If you don't know his work...find out about it.  Let me give you a starting

Here you can find the majority of his radio dramas, both from the heyday of the
form, and more contemporary stuff, along with an excellent introductory program
about Norman, as well as the actual scripts, which deserve the study of anyone
who chooses to call himself a writer.  

Norman is a *writer's writer*.  He's the sort we all point to and say, "That's
what I'd like to be able to do someday."  

I don't generally put up something that is as blatantly an advertisement as
this.  But in this particular case, it's worth the attention of any B5 fan, as
the core of the fire that set me in motion, inspires and informs much of the
ethical content of Babylon 5.  He is not only my friend, he has been my mentor
and my benchmark for nearly twenty years.

If you're not sure what to get when you get to lodestone, I suggest the Charles
Kuralt bio (featuring interviews with Terkel, Bradbury, Altman, Lear and
Corwin) about "On a Note of Triumph," the actual broadcast of "Note" itself so
you can hear the whole thing straight through, and "Thirteen by Corwin."  (John
Copeland's personal favorite is "Fifty years after 14 August" commemmorating VJ

If you want only to go for the more modern stuff, then I'd suggest "We Hold
These Truths," "The Writer with the Lame Left Hand," and for something truly
unique, "No Love Lost," about a fictional meeting between Thomas Jefferson,
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

Trust me on this one.


(jmsatb5 at
B5 Official Fan Club at:
-*** B5JMS SUBSCRIBERS: Replies to messages go to the list maintainer,
-*** <b5jms-owner at>.  If you want to reply elsewhere, adjust
-*** the "To" field.  See for all
-*** other information about this list.

More information about the B5JMS mailing list