Wendell Willkie arrives on an ATC DC-8 at Cairo Airport during his own One World Flight
Wendell Willkie and unidentified constituent read Willkie's One World manuscript circa 1941
This Pierce wire recorder is similar to that used by Lee Bland the CBS engineer who recorded Norman Corwin's interviews and observations during their 37,000 mile flight around the world.
Time Magazine cover of their Monday, January 27 1947 with an article about The World and Norman Corwin
Wendell Willkie's best-selling One World first published in 1943
Lee Bland and Norman Corwin embark on their One World Flight
Norman Corwin's personal logs were used to prepare Michael Keith and Mary Watson's fascinating One World Flight: The Lost Journal of Radio's Greatest Writer.
Background: The One World concept
One World--the phrase that has struck cold chills of naked fear into every Republican and Dixiecrat worth their elephant ears since the time of Abraham Lincoln himself. The notion that the Earth's inhabitants are all in a joint undertaking to keep peace, prosper as individual nationalities, stand ready to help neighbor or fellow nations to recover from catastrophic natural adversity, and to progress as a planet of forward thinking, past-wisened cooperative member nations.
A pretty lofty notion to be sure:
- the notion that the League of Nations and the United Nations and NATO sprang from
- the notion that disarmament conferences and international climate conferences sprang from
- the notion that international relief efforts have sprung from over the years
- the notion that a world community of well-meaning citizen-nations can work better together than individually for the ultimate benefit of the planet as a whole
The term 'One Worlder', a popular Republican perjorative of the 21st Century, comes from an unlikely source: a twice-failed Republican candidate for President of The United States, who accomplished more for his country by failing to gain its presidency than if he'd have succeeded.
Wendell Willkie, a former democratic businessman and successful corporate attorney, switched parties to enter the 1940 Republican Presidential Convention and Presidential race as a Republican. Though wildly successful in making the switch, gaining his new party's nomination and running against a highly popular Democratic President, the Republican voters throughout the nation never really trusted Willkie. He famously lost to FDR by over 5,000,000 votes in 1940.
But it was as an emissary of the United States that Willkie most contributed to national security. Willkie wasn't simply a rainy day one-worlder. He saw the bigger picture. He witnessed the big picture first-hand. He wasn't simply another chicken-hawk posturing for the war-related industrial military complex continuency back home. He put the pieces together as they were presented to him.
When he returned home after that four-month odyssey, he returned home a different man. Within eight months he'd written and published One World, his treatise about the concept of One World of nations, all aware of each others' obligations, expectations and individual aspirations. One World within which The Golden Rule is not only the morally correct universal philosophy, but an economically imperative philosophy as well. One of Willkie's final observations from One World's chapter, Our Imperialisms At Home, follows:
"Freedom is an indivisible word. If we want to enjoy it, we must be prepared to extend it to everyone, whether they are rich or poor, whether they agree with us or not, no matter what their race or the color of their skin. We cannot, with good conscience, expect the British to set up an orderly schedule for the liberation of India before we have decided for ourselves to make all who live in America free."
In cooperation with The Foreign Policy Association, The Willkie Memorial of Freedom House, and The Common Council for American Unity, Wendell Willkie inaugurated the One World Award, awarding a grant of a world tour similar to that taken by Willkie himself, to an individual exemplifying the spirit of the One World ideal. That first annual award was given to playwright, Norman Corwin, in recognition of the innumerable other projects he'd undertaken with both CBS and in aid of The CIA, The War Department, or the State Department over the years.
Willkie's One World becomes Corwin's One World Flight
From the February 17th, 1947 edition of the Canton Repository:
WHILE IN MOSCOW on his round-the-world air trip, Norman Corwin, whose "One World Flight" series of broadcasts may be heard Tuesday nights (CBS 10 p.m.), interviewed among other persons Vasillii Ardamatsky, the Soviet radio committee's chief editor of literature broadcasts. The interview contained hte usual amount of cautious gobbledygook characteristic of all statements from Soviet officialdom, but it also revealed that Russian audiences are not much different than our own. "The (Russian) listeners," said Mr. Ardamatsky, "like good broadcasts . . . They want high quality." "How do they indicate that they want high quality--by letters?" asked Mr. Corwin.
"WE HAVE read a good many letters on making bad broadcasts," said Mr. Ardamatsky. "They all send in a great many letters which make sad reading." This is an experience shared by all American broadcasters, who may find comfort in knowing the Russian masses are not so oppressed they can't find time to squawk about radio programs. "How long does it take them to forgive you?" asked Mr. Corwin. The Russian's answer is a classic. The Russian listeners, he said, were quick to forgive the broadcasters for an annoying program because five other equally annoying broadcasts soon came along to distract their attention. In this respect, Mr. Ardamatsky pointed out triumphantly, Russian radio was no different from radio in any other country.
THE INTERVIEW was transcribed on a wire recorder and in conclusion Mr. Corwin asked Mr. Ardamatsky to deliver some message to the American people "about radio, about peace, about the future." The Russian's candor instantly disappeared at the mention of such controversial words as "peace" and "the future." His reply indicated that Mr. Ardamatsky will never get into any trouble with the Kremlin for making loose statements. "I prefer to talk about the weather," he said. "The weather shouldn't be upset by all sorts of artificially manufactured storms . . . I say--weather of the world, clear!"
"FOR YOUR APPROVAL" (Mutual 5 p.m. Saturdays) is a showcase for new radio programs tried out for listener reaction and presented in the wistful hope that some advertiser may be interested enough to sponsor some of them. The program is less experimental than CBS's "Columbia Workshop" and is conducted on a far lower plane. Nevertheless, it does offer an outlet for new and untested programs. Most of the recent innovations have been quiz programs, as if there weren't enough of that commodity on the air already. However, one of them, "The Seven Arts Quiz," was a fairly literate program as quiz shows go. Here are a few of the questions: 1. A certain popular movie star is known in Italy as Topolino, in Sweden as Musse Pig, in Japan as Mikikuchi, in Central America as El Raton Miguelito. What do Americans call him? 2. What were the sources of the book titles "The Grapes of Wrath," "The Sound and the Fury," "Of Mice and Men" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls"? 3. Who said, "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair?" 4. What composers wrote into their scores (a) a wind machine (b) a typewriter? 5. In what American play is there a family called the St. Clares?
THE ANSWERS: 1. Mickey Mouse. 2. In order: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Macbeth," Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse," a sermon by John Doone. 3. It wasn't Sinclaire Lewis but Mary Heaton Vorse. 4. (a) Richard Strauss in "Don Quixote." (b) Ferde Grofe in "Tabloid." 5. "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
From the Monday, Jan. 27, 1947 edition of Time Magazine:
Radio: The World & Norman Corwin
The nearest (though not very near) thing to a fine artist in the medium of U.S. radio is Norman Corwin. Few dramatists reach so wide an audiencea fact that last February helped him win the first Wendell Willkie One World Award: a round-the-world trip designed to dramatize, as did Willkie's, the adjacence of everywhere.
Corwin took off in June with CBS Recorder Lee Bland and 225 pounds of magnetic wire-recording equipment. Four months, 42,000 miles and 16 countries later they had 100 hours of recorded interviews with prince and fellah, commissar and coolie, pundit and stevedore. The English transcript filled 3,700 typed pages. For three months Corwin, four recording engineers and six typists chewed at this great bulk, finally worked it down to a hard core. Last week, the first of 13 One World Flight broadcasts incorporating the material was aired over CBS.
It was a shrewd paste-up of the clipping from Corwin's recording tape, connected by thin strips of narrative and commentary. In trying to give a serious, upright report, Corwin occasionally let his show lag, repeat itself, get incoherent. But at its many high points One World Flight had a sudden, heady power. The high points were all excerpts from Corwin's wonderfully perceptive, intimate sound track.
- A London peddler, howling unintelligible Cockney among gear groans and horn toots: "Cut iris, cut cauliflower, Yorkshire blue peas and brand new potatoes."
- The low, agile, almost dainty voice of Clement Attlee, gently remonstrating: "After all ... you can't expect all the problems of that war, and a good many left over from the first world war, to disappear overnight. . . ."
- The minor, nerve-scraping chant of Arab women on Egypt's Independence Day.
- Jawaharlal Nehru's voice, as full of infinitesimal currents as the Ganges, and as mysterious: "People are not alike. Nations are not alike. Everybody is not the same or as clever or strong as everybody else."
- Mikail M. Borodin, editor of the Moscow Daily News, in English as thick as borsch: And there are people who would start a world conflagration . . . in order that it be warm. . . ."
- The Widow Camelia of Lanuvio, Italy, who lost her husband, her two children and most of her other relatives in a bombardment, telling her story in a voice so astoundingly massive that she might be speaking the mourning of all Europe.
Said Corwin diffidently of his work: "I hope you'll excuse the pretentious comparison, but I think of the series like Pathfinder planes which precede a raid and light a target. My series may not score a hit, but it may light up an area that has not hitherto been explored. . . . Anyway, it's all there for history, if history is interested."
Mrs. Wendell Willkie and William Paley bid Norman Corwin God's speed prior to embarking on his four-month flight tour.
It was that One World grant that made it possible for Norman Corwin to embark on his own 37,000 mile journey of discovery of the One World ideal that Willkie had envisioned:
- What had the intervening World War done to that ideal?
- How had it affected the international community's resolve to approach, reevaluate, or continue to undertake Willkie's obvservations of a One World philosophy?
- Was a war-weary world even prepared to address such an undertaking?
Those are the questions Norman Corwin and his crew hoped to answer--or at the least address--during their 37,000 globe circling journey.
From the Billboard Magazine review of January 25, 1947:
Superb Corwin Preem Reveals Bigotry, Ignorance Rampant
By Jerry Franken
NEW YORK, Jan 18.--One World Flight, a 13-week series based on material gathered by Norman Corwin on his recent round-the-world flight under the auspices of the Willkie Foundation and the Common Council for American Unity, had its preem Tuesday (14) over CBS at 10 p.m. The program is one that is lofty in purpose, compelling in its simplicity and frightening in much of its content. It is a superb example of the great work radio documentaries, in the hands of an outstanding writer, can do. It is--at least if the first program was any indication--devoid of arty, phony theatricalism -- for Corwin knows that the dramatic nature of his material needs no lily gilding. And it is, finally, and most unfortunately, destined to be heard by a minuscule portion of the available radio audience, because CBS has seen fit to put the program in the death watch, opposite Bob Hope.
For the fact is that, to some measure, the news of Corwin's program itself was overshadowed by CBS's neat nip-up, preaching one policy and practicing another. It is all very well for Bill Paley to make a high-minded speech at the recent NAB convention. It is all very well to inaugurate a Lyman Bryson get-to-know-radio program Sunday afternoons. But when the chips are down and an opportunity is presented to sock really a good-sized audience with so vital a public service program as Flight, CBS apparently prefers easy preachments to actual practice. Web has, for instance, Sunday from 2 to 2:30 p.m. open just for the record.
War and Peace
Fact is that Corwin, and his medium CBS , have a momentous something to tell radio listeners. That something is that many of the same forces--ignorance, intolerance and bigotry--which led to World War II are just as strong today as they were when Fascism first went on the prowl in Spain and Germany. If there was any keynote to the first program of the series it was that while millions hope for the future, their hopes are offset by the despair engendered by those who adhere to intolerance.
Initial stanza set the tenor of the remainder of the series, presenting a vocal mosaic of interviews tape-recorded by Corwin and Lee Bland during their flight. Quality of the recordings was, unhappily, more than casually inferior, but the grim statements of many of the interviewees counteracted it. Later programs will relate flight details, stop by stop, first show giving an all-over impression.
Format was simple, with Corwin as narrator, and using contrasting interviews, many of which were in foreign languages and translated by on-the-spot interpreters. One such interviews, with an Italian woman who lost virtually her entire family, was, perhaps the program's leit-motiv. Recording, on which the woman told of the loss of her husband and two of her three children, her lack of money to feed either herself or her remaining son, concluded with the weeping woman expressing her sorrow and her fears that "she has no idea at all what she can hope to look for."
Fears New Hostilities
Others whose voices were heard included a Danish cabinet officer, "I am very much afraid of it (another world war) in fact"; a Russian editor," ...The reactionaries are still cherishing the hope of some day using Fascism in order to kill you and me and every man...who professes...Democracy"' the Australian dock-hand who admired Hitler and his practice of anti-Semitism; the anti-Russian Filipino woman, who despite first-hand war experiences was still, incredibly, for war against the Soviet; and the American officer who shared her viewpoints and who, according to an interview with a woman UNRRA worker, rated a punch in the puss from a fellow-officer for expressing his sentiments--on V-J Day at that.
There were others more hopeful--but the pro-war element, to this reporter, seemed to dominate, topped off by the moving, heart-rending closing, in which Corwin repeated a fragment of the widow's interview and concluded: "This voice, and the echo of guns only lately stilled, and the silence of the cemeteries...The begging of alms, and the whimper of hungry children; this voice, and the mute rubble of wasted towns and cities--these were the sounds of need: Need for the hope and for the reality of a united world."
Corwin Good Choice
Selection of Corwin as winner of the first Willkie Flight Award, on the basis "of contributions already made to this ideal," was a singularly happy one. The material with which he has returned amply justifies the selection, too. One World Flight is a program which should be heard universally--how sad that CBS's "business as usual" tactics have hindered its progress.
Mr. Franken's article raises some interesting insights into the scheduling and production side of CBS's One World Flight. Scheduling One World Flight opposite The Bob Hope Show virtually ensured that, in spite of Corwin's extraordinary appeal, the politics of the post-World War II military-industrial complex and its thousands of Washington lobbyists would have little to fear in the way of audience share for One World Flight. What they couldn't have counted on was One World Flight's enduring appeal throughout the following six decades.
Norman Corwin's Own Observations.
Norman Corwin made the news in Billboard magazine a few more times during the 13-week run of One World Flight. In Billboard's January 18, 1947 issue it recounted some of Corwin's fascinating insights into the Radio facilities he visited around the world during his 37,000 mile trip:
- He found the Radio headquarters in the Scandinavian world some of the ''most magnificent in the world.''
- He said that the Copenhagen Radio facilities made Radio City in New York ''look like a garage.''
- He further observed that the Radio headquarters in Norway made Radio City look like a ''two-story garage.''
- He observed about French Radio facilities, ''C'est a Rire!''
- He prounounced the BBC facilities ''adequate but dreary.''
- In Russia, Corwin observed, ''radio is one of the lesser arts'' that they use ''functionally.'' Even more telling, Corwin observed that the Russian Government was only then beginning to return confiscated receivers to the people.
- He pronounced Indian Radio, headquartered in New Delhi as the third best setup he saw during his travels, second only to those in Scandinavia.
- Corwin termed Chinese Radio the most 'piratical,' with the operators having ''no sense of copyright.'' He also opined that Chinese Radio was under ''the long thumbnail of the government'' even then.
- Corwin found Japanese Radio listeners to be avid soap opera fans, post-World War II.
- Corwin liked Australian Radio, explaining,''The Aussies buy my scripts . . .and pay well.''
Corwin also observed that he'd recorded some 150 hours of impressions during the trip. Those 150 hours were eventually edited down to the two and a half hours, plus some four hours of live commentary that eventually comprised the thirteen weeks of CBS' One World Flight. Corwin observed that his purpose in making the trip was to seek out ''the expression of friendship between nations and among men."
Corwin clearly succeeded in his purpose. Beyond the initial airing of One World Flight in 1947, Corwin's impressions and observations during the series have reached around the world several hundred more times through the enduring recordings of One World Flight from The Golden Age of Radio.