- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 18, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Norman Corwin, a creative giant of the Golden Age of Radio whose programs chronicling World War II are milestones in broadcasting, has died. He was 101.

Corwin died Tuesday at his Los Angeles home of natural causes, according to the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

During a career that spanned more than 70 years, Corwin wrote, produced and directed for radio, television, film and the stage.

His insightful writing earned Emmy and Golden Globe awards. He received an Academy Award nomination for his script for the 1956 film “Lust for Life,” the biography of Vincent van Gogh starring Kirk Douglas.

But radio was Corwin’s true passion.

“I find it difficult to turn down an offer to be heard,” he said in a 2001 interview on public radio. “Whether it’s an anniversary, whether it’s on the ending of a war, whatever the subject, I am ham enough to enjoy communicating to people, to an audience.”

Actor William Shatner, who narrated several of Corwin’s later radio programs, called him a legend and his hero. He is “the poetic soul of discretion and a monument to artistry in America,” Shatner once said.

Throughout the 1940s, Corwin was well known to millions of Americans who depended on radio for their link to the world. His work during that so-called Golden Age of Radio ran the gamut of creative offerings, from variety shows to dramas, comedies to documentaries.

Some of his most acclaimed programs dealt with World War II and provided perspective about a war being fought thousands of miles away. His writing brought the country together, inspiring patriotism, hope and optimism.

He joined CBS in 1938 at the height of the radio network’s glory, working with such broadcasting greats as Edward R. Murrow and Howard K. Smith. While his early work was behind the microphone, Corwin eventually turned his focus to writing, producing and directing.

In 1941, he wrote “We Hold These Truths,” a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights featuring the voices of Lionel Barrymore, Walter Brennan and Orson Welles. It was broadcast simultaneously on all four radio networks days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

“We Hold These Truths” was added in 2005 to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, formed to honor sound recordings of unusual historical merit.

In 1945, he penned “On a Note of Triumph,” considered by many to be Corwin’s masterpiece. It was broadcast nationwide on May 8, 1945, the day of the allied victory in Europe.

In an introduction to the program, Corwin wrote: “I thought to consider what had been wrought, and why _ what the victory had cost, what, if anything, we had learned _ and what lay ahead in the way of global obligations and responsibilities.”

A film about that broadcast, “A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin,” won the Oscar in 2006 for best short documentary.

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