The Passport for Adams Radio Program Biographies
|Norman Lewis Corwin
(Creator, Director, Writer)
Newspaperman, Journalist, Poet, Writer, Screenwriter, Playwright, Producer, Director, Political Activist, Professor, Humanitarian
(1910 - 2011 )
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
1929 Rhymes and Cadences
1938 Columbia Workshop
1938 County Seat
1939 Words Without Music
1939 The Pursuit Of Happiness
1939 So This Is Radio
1940 We Take Your Word
1940 Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
1940 Cavalcade Of America
1941 The Free Company
1941 We Hold These Truths
1942 This Is War
1942 An American In England
1942 The Victory Front
1943 The Cresta Blanca Carnival
1943 Norman Corwin (Audition)
1943 Long Name None Could Spell
1943 Passport For Adams
1944 Silver Theatre
1944 Columbia Presents Corwin
1944 Texaco Star Theatre
1944 This Is My Best
1944 The American School Of the Air
1945 On A Note Of Triumph
1946 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre
1946 Mercury Summer Theatre
1946 Stars In the Afternoon
1947 One World Flight
1947 Hollywood Fights Back
1949 Author Meets the Critics
1949 What's the Word
1949 The New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
1950 Document A/777
1950 Faith In Our Time
1952 Lux Radio Theatre
1979 Sears Radio Theatre
1983 Six By Corwin (NPR)
Norman Corwin at his creative best, ca. 1944
Norman Corwin in NBC Studio with Peggy Burt, ca. 1937
Norman Corwin camps it up during a rare in-costume moment during RCA's Magic Key, ca. 1937
The Maestro, in his element, ca. 1942
Norman Corwin in control booth for 1945's Untitled for Columbia Presents Corwin
Corwin's Lair, looking down from the control booth, directing Season One of Columbia Presents Corwin, ca. 1944
Corwin, flanked by Regina Reynic to his right and Deems Taylor to his left, with Bernard Rogers at the piano, ca. 1947
Norman Corwin, directing live radio program, ca. 1944
Corwin discusses We Hold These Truths script with Jimmy Stewart, ca. 1941
On A Note of Triumph 78 RPM Record Label, ca. 1944
Two great Radio 'Normans'--Lear, left and Corwin, right, ca. 2005
Orson Welles, left and Norman Corwin, right, going over Fourteen August script, August 14, 1945
Norman Corwin, ca. 2005
Corwin examines his first, well-deserved Oscar, ca. 2005
|Norman Corwin is approaching one hundred years of age as we prepare this biography. Corwin's father Samuel lived to the age of 112. We can only hope that Samuel's sons will be as long-lived as the father. Norman Corwin's continuing legacy of thought-provoking, insightful, brilliantly crafted and prosaic commentary on the human condition have fashioned Norman Corwin into one of American History's greatest writers, visionaries, dramatists and philosophers.
Born and raised in East Boston, Corwin was transfixed by Radio as a medium from its initial broad casts. A child prodigy, Corwin was reciting poetry at the age of five, writing full-length stories at the age of seven, was a voracious reader, and an avid classical music proponent since the time he was a child. Reportedly first listening to a makeshift crystal set assembled by his older brother Al, from a cylindrical Quaker Oats box, both brothers soon became avid Radio enthusiasts.
Mentored by a devoted high school English teacher, Corwin acquired a life-long interest in poetry, especially that of Keats, Shelley and The Brownings. Upon early graduation from high school, Corwin began working as a journalist at the age of 17, with Massachusetts' Greenfield Recorder, then the Springfield Republican. Covering a variety of local community interest stories, Corwin's efforts covered sporting events--written in iambic pentameter no less, local color activities, movie reviews, and human interest stories.
His first exposure to professional Radio broadcasting came with an opportunity to air an interview regarding one of the human interest stories he'd written about. Station WBZA soon needed a newsreader and sought to have the position filled with someone from the local newspaper. Corwin fit the bill perfectly. By 1929 Corwin had fashioned his own broadcast over WBZA, a combination of piano interludes interwoven with Corwin's orginal poetry readings. He called the program Rhymes and Cadences. If this sounds a reminiscent chord, it's instructive to remember that this is how the legendary Orson Welles embarked on his own Radio career, airing a similar format entitled Musical Reveries in 1936.
Indeed, the similarities between these two great Radio visionaries is entirely appropriate. We've chronicled Orson Welles' extraordinary career elsewhere, but it's instructive to point out the fascinating series of parallels in the Radio careers of both Radio legends. You may recall that Orson Welles undertook his own wanderlust through the United Kingdom and Europe as a young man. Norman Corwin's exposure to The Continent came in 1931, as he traveled to Europe with his older brother, Emil. The fomenting fascism, social and religious unrest, and political turmoil he witnessed first-hand throughout Europe very much shaped the path Corwin's broadcasting career would take from that point forward.
Corwin returned to the U.S. and in 1935 began working as a full-fledged newsman for Radio WLW in Cinncinati, Ohio. Almost immediately encountering one of the Post-Great Depression sore spots first-hand, Corwin learned that any on air reportage of collective bargaining efforts--even organizing for collective bargaining--were grounds for immediate dismissal. He objected to the policy and soon found himself fired after only two weeks on the job. He ultimately took up the issue with the ACLU's backing and eventually got the policy changed--long after he'd departed Cincinnati.
The next stop for Corwin was The Big Apple, where he found work as an entry level publicist for 2oth Century-Fox. He soon leveraged his contacts there to yet another proposal for a local poetry/musicale format program to Radio station WQXR. He was soon airing another program similar in format to Rhymes and Cadences, this one cleverly named Poetic License. First airing in 1936, Poetic License showcased some of New York's early poetry luminaries, among them Louis Ginsberg, father of legendary Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
The first major network to take an interest in Corwin was NBC, who invited Corwin to appear on RCA's Magic Key, beginning in 1937. NBC was less than impressed and in a moment of fortuitous serendipity for Corwin, released him from his obligation to NBC. Fortuitous, because within a year, a CBS executive would hear one of Corwin's Poetic License broadcasts and offer Corwin a position as Radio Director for $125 a week. Needless to say, that was astounding pay for a young man of that era.
So it was that a few days shy of his 28th birthday, Corwin began directing CBS' on-air engineering, writing, and production efforts for the first time. Within a few months he was tapped to direct his first Columbia Workshop experimental drama, The Red Badge of Courage, airing July 9, 1938.
In yet another ironic crossed path with Orson Welles, the night of October 31, 1938 found Corwin rehearsing the pilot for a newly proposed poetry program he was developing, tentatively titled Norman Corwin's Words Without Music. In the studio just below Corwin, none other than Orson Welles and Mercury Theatre of The Air were broadcasting their infamous War of The Worlds broadcast. Oblivious to what was taking place, Corwin reportedly only learned of it once CBS' switchboards began lighting up on every floor.
Produced by no less than legendary William N. Robson, Norman Corwin's Words Without Music ultimately aired in production a month later, with Corwin agonizing over the slightest nuance of each broadcast. It was during Corwin's Words Without Musc broadcast of December 25, 1938 that he introduced his famous "The Plot to Overthrow Christmas" to a listening audience, a program that would be repeated over and over again throughout CBS' history.
Within a year, Corwin had written, directed, produced and broadcast two of his most enduring masterpieces: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas [Words Without Music] and They Fly Through the Air with The Greatest of Ease [Columbia Workshop]. By then helping others develop their own experimental Radio dramas, Corwin found himself directing Earl Robinson's stirring Ballad for Americans, and Lucille Fletcher's biting satire, My Client, Curley. Earl Robinson would go on to collaborate with Corwin on several of his Columbia Presents Corwin productions.
Mr. Corwin took most of 1940 to work as a screenwriter for RKO Studios. Unimpressed, Corwin soon realized that he'd had far more artistic freedom back at CBS. So it was that upon returning to CBS, he was offered control of fully six months worth of Columbia Workshop programming. The resulting 26 By Corwin was Norman Corwin's first unbridled artistic opportunity in Broadcast Radio.
What followed were 26 weeks worth of Norman Corwin's dramatic passion. Corwin's creativity could be fully unleashed and fully explored for the following 26-week marathon of writing, directing, producing and agonizing over the result. But the agony couldn't last long, since from moments after each broadcast's sign-off, the process would begin anew, with carte blanche and all that a blank piece of paper means to a creative person--both the pros and the cons.
In the end, he pulled it off--in spades. 1941 became one of the most triumphant years of Corwin's creative work experience to date. Indeed to this day, several of those twenty-six Corwin efforts have become standalone classics of the Golden Age of Radio. Corwin wrapped up the year in extraordinary fashion with one of Radio History's most stirring paeans to American Democracy ever aired--We Hold These Truths. We Hold These Truths was a multimedia celebration of America's Bill of Rights. The broadcast was heard by the largest single audience in Radio History up to that point. Its timing was absolutely exquisite--indeed, almost prescient, given the life-altering developments of the morning of December 7, 1941. The project wasn't developed as a response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Indeed it was still under development and being written by Corwin the afternoon that he first heard the news about the attack.
Starring no less than Jimmy Stewart, Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles, Edward Arnold, Lionel Barrymore, Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Marjorie Main, Rudy Vallee and Bob Burns, the score was written by legendary composer Bernard Herrmann. And almost as a footnote to this remarkable production, FDR himself addressed the country during the production. The Star Spangled Banner was performed by the full New York Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by no less than Leopold Stokowski himself. The mind reels to imagine a Radio broadcast with that much prestigious talent during one airing today. Call it 1941's version of 'We Are The Children'. That's about what it amounted to. The costs alone today would be astronomical.
We Hold These Truths holds up just as well today. I have yet to share an airing of my recording of We Hold These Truths with anyone without evoking a remarkable reaction from them--young, old, and every age in between. It's quite simply one of the most stirring, patriotic, genuinely moving reminders of what this country has fought to defend for almost 240 years as of this writing.
Needless to say, by 1942 Norman Corwin's work was rapidly approaching legendary status. Nor did he shirk from the challenge to pursue even greater triumphs. His broadcasting excellence surmounted even commercial network rivalries. He was commissioned by the Office of War Information to develop the stirring This Is War series which was mandated to air simultaneously over all four major networks.
During 1943, Norman Corwin was dispatched to England to cover the War effort from their perspective. A unique joint effort of The BBC and U.S. broadcasters, the amazing recordings Corwin returned with resulted in the wonderfully inspirational An American in England series, showcasing the indomitable spirit of Wartime Great Britain. The resulting series was quite understandably one of the War effort's most inspirational series to that date.
As hard as it is to imagine, Corwin's penultimate masterpiece had yet to be produced. I say penultimate, for good reason, as you'll soon discover. . .
With the end of the War in Europe in sight, Corwin undertook to develop an hour-long, live studio observance of the end of War in Europe. The resulting On A Note of Triumph became Corwin's crowning masterpiece. Again scored by Bernard Herrmann, not only did it set another record for largest simultaneous listening audience, it was pressed as a 78 RPM record for further distribution. The first pressing sold out almost overnight, as did a hardcover print of the script, which became an overnight best-seller in its own right. Both the records and scripts were pressed and published again and again to keep up with the unprecedented demand.
Corwin, aided by Orson Welles, rose to the occasion yet again, with even less preparation, as V.J. Day finally--and quite unexpectedly--arrived on 14 August 1945. L'Affaire Gumpert was the Columbia Presents Corwin program that had been scheduled for airing on August 14th. Never one to shirk a challenge, Norman Corwin, with less than eleven hours' notice, threw together the final epitaph on World War II, with a minimal sound track, a single sound effect and only Orson Welles' magnificent voice as his primary artistic tool. And yet, irrespective of the absurd limitations placed on this single, 15-minute program of the run, you see the effort of Radio's two giants, converging to produce a miraculous post-script to the most bloody, expensive, gut-wrenching five years our young Nation had ever experienced. And quite frankly who else could possibly have ever pulled it off but these two geniuses?
To this day, one needs to pinch oneself to be reminded of the extraordinary constraints imposed on both Welles and Corwin to pull off Fourteen August at all. And yet they did it. And they could only have done it over Radio. In the final analysis, they did what both their extraordinary backgrounds had prepared them to do--and at the time that their country needed their special individual talents the most. It's beyond prosaic. It was fated. It was beyond Kismet. It was their destiny from the moment each of them separately undertook their first independent Radio broadcasts, each in their own rendition of a mixed poetry/musicale format. The ironies and coincidences are beyond serendipity. They're cosmic.
As announced, L'Affaire Gumpert was indeed Corwin's last Columbia Presents Corwin. Anything else would have been post-climactic. What could possibly have topped Fourteen August? The entire nation was sharing a combination of mass delerium and a combined, cathartic sigh of immense relief. It was time to move on. The machinery of War was destined to be scrapped and fashioned back into the plowshares that many of those same machines of War had been manufactured from.
And so it was with the two giants of Radio. Each ultimately going their own way again. Each having shared a cosmic moment of catharsis with an entire Nation. What could possibly have topped the emotion of that singular moment of 14 August?
There's no question that Norman Corwin, despite his amazing professional triumphs of the World War II years, went on to even greater triumphs for the remander of his storied career. As recently as 2005, he worked tirelessly to help produce and promote 2005's Ocscar winning Documentary Short Subject, On A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin. How fitting a tribute, but some might well ask, what took them so long?
We love our heroes. And we need our heroes even more today, as we engage in an economic battle for our financial survival. Much the same survival effort Norman Corwin's own parents had to endure while Norman was still in high school. And so we come full circle. Asking even more from our heroes. Hoping they'll remind us why we fight, why we endure, why we never give in to adversity. And why we vainly expect our heroes to always be there for us at the very instant in history when we need them the most.
Thank God Norman Corwin isn't going anywhere, anytime soon, bless his heart.
[Update: Norman Corwin passed away in his sleep on October 18, 2011 at the age of 101. ]
|Robert George Young
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Good News of 1938
Good News of 1939
The Gulf Screen Guild Theatre
The Kraft Music Hall
The Pepsodent Show
Lux Radio Theatre
The Lady Esther Screen Guild Players
A Passport for Adams
Cavalcade of America
The Frank Morgan Show
The Doctor Fights
This Is My Best
Theatre of Romance
The Fifth Horseman
The Family Theatre
Hollywood Fights Back
Father Knows Best
One Man's Family
Virginia: Pattern for Resistance
How America Votes
The Hidden Revolution
Robert Young c. 1959
Robert Young publicity still for The Black Camel (1931)
Robert Young Player's Cigarettes card, c. 1935
During the end of his Metro Goldwyn Mayer contract years
Spot promotion for Passport for Adams from October 3rd 1943
Robert Young, promoting Camel Cigarettes circa 1952
Father Knows Art, Too. Robert Young kibitzes daughter Elizabeth, 13, as she tackles one of her first oil paintings.
|While born in Chicago to an Irish immigrant father and an American mother, from the age of 10 forward he grew up in Los Angeles, California, graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles. Soft-spoken Young acquired some stage experience with the Pasadena Playhouse before entering films in 1931.
His movie career consisted of playing charming, good-looking, often bland characters. He rarely "got the girl". Louis B. Mayer is quoted as saying of Young, "He has no sex appeal." But he did play in as many as eleven films per year for a decade starting with the second Charlie Chan movie, The Black Camel (1931). He also distinguished himself as the redoubtable spy in Alfred Hitchcock's Secret Agent (1936), a distinctly un-bland characterization.
He began his Radio career in the late 1930s becoming a mainstay in the Maxwell House Coffee-sponsored Good News series' of 1938 and 1939. He made another 30 appearances during the 1940s in The Gulf Screen Guild Theatre, The Pepsodent Show, Kraft Music Hall, The Lady Esther Screen Guild Players, several Cavalcade of America episodes, Suspense, Lux Radio Theatre, and in several Family Theatre episodes. In all, some 100 Radio appearances before 1949.
But in 1949, Young began his starring role as Jim Anderson in Father Knows Best, as an average father dealing with average family situations--a role tailor-made for his extremely likeable personality. The show ran for five years before going to Television in 1954, by which time he became America's Father for six years until the show was canceled in 1960. It was during the last two years of his Father Knows Best television show that we believe he participated in The Episcopal Church's 18-episode The Witness program, a program again perfectly suited to his kindly, fatherly Radio and Television persona.
Those same fatherly, loving, kindly roles were an adoring public's only real view of Robert Young. But what his millions of fans never saw or knew of was his agonizing battle with depression and alcoholism. This was a difficult struggle for him for most of his adult life. He went to great lengths to disguise this inner torment from his friends, family and producers and his struggle went untreated for most of his performing years.
From the February 14th 1952 edition of the Long Beach Press-Telegram:
Gals at Home
By GENE HANDSAKER
HOLLYWOOD. The day Robert Young's fourth daughter was brought home, new-born from the hospital, the actor was outnumbered 12 to 1 by the female sex.
That included the cook, maid, twice-a-week laundress, once-a-week steamtress, two nurses, and Bob's mother-in-law. Even when just his wife and four daughters are there, he says, "I'm pretty well out-voted."
But the slender, easy-going star enjoys his minority role. "Actually, I was never too much set on the idea of having a boy," he says. "I've found there's no point in resisting or fighting the situation. I might as well go along with it."
Bob sat down the other day and reflected on his growingly outnumbered status since he married Betty Henderson, high school acquaintance whom he had thought "an awful bore" in 10th-grade history. Wed in 1933, they've been augmented successively by
Carole, now 18, "reesrved, shy, self-conscious; there's a lot of me in her," Bob says. "She has steadfast friends but they're few in number."
Barbara, 14, "vivacious, like her mother. A 'junior miss'; plays the piano; enjoys whatever she's doing."
Betty Lou, 8, "acts, thinks and looks like her mother. Has a mind like a steel bear trap; thinks in a straight line, with humor and perception."
Kathy, 6, "we call her 'The Leprechaun.' Lives in a little world of her own but emerges now and then to confer with us. The pet of all our friends. My wife says. 'She never meets a stranger.'"
Summing up his womenfolk, Bob mused: "It's very interesting how these dames work. They appear to be on any side; they'll all agree with me. But a thing always works out the way they want. I'm not quite aware of it until it has taken place.
"Every once in a while I want to take a stand just to assert my masculinity. But we've never had an issue come up that was important enough."
Whenever Bob brings a 16-mm. movie home, to show on their projection machine, 8-year-old Betty Lou asks if he's in it. If he says he isn't, she makes a great show of crying, "Oh, no? Wonderful!" Young adds, "They make a kind of .game of pushing me around. But when the chips are down, they're all on my side."
All in all, Bob agreed, the situation is somewhat as it is on his radio show, "Father Knows Best." The format there is: Father THINKS he knows best. "Every once in a while," Young admitted, "I realize I'm being led along, gently and subtly, by the nose."
From the June 15th 1958 edition of the Independent STAR-NEWS:
TV's Favorite Family Man
Typical of Average
By Pat Nogler
All fathers, including television dads, will be reaping their rewards today.
This being so, it's only natural that we not let this day pass without making a to do over TV's most popular dad and Emmy Award winner Robert Young, of NBC-TV's "Father Knows Best" series.
A dignified man with a most pleasing smile and amiable way, Robert Young finds his role as a father very satisfying both on and off screen. In speaking of his TV portrayal of Jim Anderson, in the "Father" series, Bob says he feels very much at home. "You see in private life I have four attractive daughters, Carol, Barbara, Elizabeth and Kathleen.
You can readily see then that being a devoted family man, Young was more than eager to do the 'wholesome' family show which was conceived after Eugene B. Rodney, producer of the program, and he sat through many talk sessions discussing their respective families.
There is--and was thenan abundance of children on all sides, the girls in the Young household and a houseful of boys at the Rodney home. Each parent would talk about their problems, and the every day issues of family life. This, of course made never ending conversation, as any family man will tell you. Their problems, not too serious, often were very funny.
So, with two such "pros" as Young and Rodney talking, it was inevitable that they should eventually say to each other'"this might make a good series." And that is exactly what happened. The program proved excellent listening fare for 5 years on NBC Radio, before switching to television.
Since 1954, the "Father Knows Best" show, has won four national awards, including the Sylvania TV Award, the 1955 National Association for the Betterment of Radio and TV Award, a Christopher Award and the 1955 Family Service TV Award.
With the sincerest interests at heart for the youngsters of America, Bob launched a radio portion of a national campaign to reduce highway accidents among teen-aged drivers. This was early in 1950. He succeeded in enlisting almost 4,000,000 members in the Robert Young Good Drivers Club.
Following along this same theme, one of the TV "Father" episodes has been" shown numerous times off TV in the Cleveland, Ohio, public schools driving classes. The particular episode we are referring to is the "Safety First" story in which Bud Anderson, played by Bill Gray, is made to serve as school crossing monitor because he had misused his father's car.
Other episodes of the weekly program keep popping up in English classes and at private screenings for public service organizations. Few television shows receive as many special requests for prints and scripts.
As Bob and his friend Rodney point out, "We definitely don't try to preach or instruct. We only make an effort to entertain and amuse, bringing out comedy in honest and believable situations. That, they believe, is what makes "Father" interesting to educators.
On receiving the show's most recent award, the Volunteers of America Award at the organization's annual convention, Young pointed out that the comedy in the show is based on a credible portrayal of a typical American family.
"If the viewers won't laugh at us every time we think they ought to," said Bob, "we hope they'll at least like us. And we think they'll like us if we're their kind of folk. From the countless number of letters we receive, he added, we're inclined to believe that the vast majority of families and fathers, are rather accurately typified in "Father Knows Best."
When Young is not occupied with being TV "Father," he spends his time with his wife Betty in their charming Beverly Hills home where they try to have their family together whenever possible. Their daughter Carol is now married and Barbara attends the University of Southern California where she is majoring in music. The other two girls are still junior members of the family and are leading the lives of young school girls.
An interesting sidelight, in tune with the day, we learned that altogether there are 35 real life fathers in the staff of "Father Knows Best," including Young, the producer, and director, cameramen, technicians, etc. Among them they have 81 children. All these fathers are experts on the show, because naturally, they all know best.
From the March 19th 1959 edition of The Progress:
The Robert Youngs Now Have
Been Married Three Times
By DOROTHY ROE
Associated Press Women's Editor
HOLLYWOOD (AP) - It's not often a girl gets to marry the same man three times, with no intervening divorces.
This is the unique accomplishment of charming, red-haired Betty Young, wife of tne screen and TV star, Robert Young, and mother of four daughters.
The first Young wedding was performed by a justice of the peace in Santa Ana, Calif., when Bob and Betty were very young. The second took place on their 25th wedding anniversary, last March, in the Episcopal chapel of the Bishop School at La Jolla, alma mater of all the Young daughters who are old enough. The third showed up as an episode in Young's long-standing TV series, "Father Knows Best," just a few weeks ago.
"I don't know whether it was the children's idea or ours," says Betty, "but everybody agreed that since we have never had a church wedding it was high time to have one, and our silver wedding anniversary was a good date.
"So we went through the whole ceremony at the beautiful little chapel on the campus of the school which has been a sort of second home to our daughters. The ceremony was performed by the chaplain, Canon Frederick J. Stevens, and Bob's best man was the J.P. who married us the first time only now he's Superior Court Judge Kenneth Morrison.
"It gives you a strange feeling to see your own life being played on a television screen by your own husband and his TV wife. But I enjoyed the film version of my wedding almost as much as I did the first two real ones."
Many episodes of Young's TV series parallel events in his own lovely family, although both he and Betty insist they never interfere with the script writers. His screen family consists of actress Jane Wyatt as his wife, and three children.
His real family consists of Betty and their four daughters: Carol Anne, now Mrs. Arthur Proffitt and a teacher at the Buckley School in Los Angeles; Barbara, 21, student at U.S.C.; Betty Lou, 15, a student at the Bishop School and Kathleen, 13, who is in the seventh grade at the Buckley School, where her sister teaches "Bobby and I always put our family first," Betty 'says, "And I guess that's why he's able to be such a convincing father on the screen."
Having basically retired from Film, he'd already claimed over 100 movies to his credit. And after Father Knows Best left the air, he continued making guest appearances on many television shows and television movies until his revival in Television in 1969's Marcus Welby, M.D. which ran for seven years until it was canceled in 1976.
From the April 29th 1972 edition of Pacific Stars and Stripes:
Thrives on Hard Work
How Robert Manages to
By LAWRENCE LAURENT
c 1972, The Washington Post
WASHINGTON Robert Young was a major motion picture actor in the 1930s but he wasn't happy.
In those days of motion picture tycoons and moguls, when five studios dominated the industry, actors weren't permitted to be serene, fulfilled, satisfied or contented. They were supposed to be insecure and manageable.
Young, for example, was under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for 15 years. "And every year," Young recalls, "I expected to be dropped." He expected to be fired mainly because of the kinds of daily greetings he got when he went to work. "One guy would greet me and say, 'Gee, Bob, if only you could gain a little weight. . . .' the next guy I'd run into would say something like, 'Gee, Bob, if only you had sex appeal. . ."'
Young's reminiscences were interrupted by his wife, the former Betty Henderson, to whom he has been married for nearly 40 years. She said: "I never complained about your sex appeal."
Young's face lighted into a smile. He patted Betty's hand. "No, you never have," he said. "But we lived through some problems." Those problems included the insecure actor's excesses with booze. No, despite what you may have read in the movie fan magazines, Robert Young was never an alcoholic; never joined Alcoholics Anonymous for a cure, and never "almost ended his career" because of alcohol. He didn't, for example, miss many work calls.
He made 84 motion pictures from 1931 ("The Black Camel") to 1966 ("Born Free") and he was ready to retire.
Along with motion pictures, Young worked in radio. He was master of ceremonies for "Good News of 1937" and had a six-year run on NBC radio in "Father Knows Best."
He moved quickly and easily to television and this is where his life changed. "Father Knows Best" became a television series in 1954 and lasted one season on CBS before it was dropped. It was renewed the following year on NBC and continued for five seasons.
Young won two "Emmy" awards for his work as insurance agent and idealized father. More important, he wonat long lastfinancial security.
He didn't need to work after that, but an old friend talked him into making a mistake called "Window on Main Street." Young is not an embittered man, but he is never very happy when he discusses that TV series. "I played the town's busybody . . . kind of a male Mary Worth . . . in each episode I stuck my nose into someone else's business . . . The show lacked comedy, warmth snd drama... it lasted one season and I was delighted when it was canceled."
Robert and Betty Young decided that the time had come for retirement. Their four daughters were grown and the film business wasn't good. The Youngs moved to Rancho Santa Fe, 25 miles north of San Diego. This is a resort community built around a golf course.
They built a small, two bedroom house and named it "The Enchanted Cottage," after a motion picture that Young had made in 1945.
Bob enjoyed retirement, but he reckoned without the persuasiveness of television producer David Victor, who persuaded Young to "try again" in an episode of "The Name of the Game." Young played an eccentric millionaire ("I got enough money to be able to wear white socks. You got enough money to be able to wear white socks?") and he enjoyed the work.
Equally important, David Victor liked Young's work and David Victor is a very persuasive man. He had guided "Dr. Kildare" through four successful hospital seasons and Victor now wanted to do a series about a general practitioner, whose office was in his home. David Victor also wanted Robert Young to come out of retirement and to play "Marcus Welby, M.D."
"So, you have financial security," he told Young. "Now, you can be rich as well as secure."
Dr. Welby first turned up as a two-hour, made-for-TV motion picture and even before the film was televised it became a series. Word came early in 1969 that the most certain hit for the next season would be "Marcus Welby."
The forecast was correct, for the series was quickly established as the top-rated program in all television. (It helped, of course, that this entertainment series played opposite the "CBS News Hour" and that, once every four weeks, NBC brought in its "First Tuesday" series. As former NBC executive Paul Klein wrote in TV Guide, "Well over two-thirds of all homes viewing the networks at 10 to 11 p.m., decided 'Welby' is the least objectionable program.")
Even when the news programs were moved, the "Welby" series stayed among the four most popular programs in all television.
Young never did sell the huge home (6,000 square feet of space and five baths) in Beverly Hills, where he and Betty raised their family. He still uses the place when he's working. By contract, he's on call from noon, Monday to noon, Friday and the long weekends are spent at Rancho Santa Fe and the Enchanted Cottage.
More important, however, is the peace, serenity and fulfillment that has come to Robert Young as he approaches the age of 65.
"When I was a young man I was afraid of everything.
"Life was a chore. But today, it's great.
As must be apparent in the above article, Robert Young and his representatives had been attempting to disquise Young's depression and alcohol issues for much of Young's career-and well after. Robert Young, by then in his seventies, finally confronted--and defeated--a secret 40-year battle with alcohol and depression after an abortive suicide attempt in 1991. Once Young successfully recovered, he devoted the remaining seven years of his life to alerting the public to the dangers of untreated depression and alcoholism.
From the July 24th 1998 edition of Pacific Stars and Stripes:
Actor Robert Young, 91, dies;
won 3 Emmys
*Popular star will always be
remembered for his roles
in "Father Knows Best" and
"Marcus Welby, M.D."
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- Robert Young, loved by millions of viewers as television's all-knowing dad on "Father Knows Best" and the compassionate "Marcus Welby, M.D.," has died. He was 91.
Young died Tuesday evening at his home in Westlake Village, his physician, Dr. John Horton, said. He had suffered from heart problems, Horton said.
Jane Wyatt, Young's co-star on Father Knows Best," paid tribute to him as "simply one of the finest people to grace our industry."
"Though we never socialized off the set, we were together every day for six years and during that time he never pulled rank (and) always treated his on-screen family with the same affection and courtesy he showed his loved ones in his private life," she said.
After a prolific career in films, where Young appeared in such well-remembered movies as "Sitting Pretty," "Northwest Passage," and "Journey for Margaret," he went on to even greater success in the two long-running television shows that were among the most popular of their respective decades.
Young won two Emmys for "Father Knows Best" and a third for "Marcus Welby, M.D."
"Father Knows Best," which Young originated on radio in 1949, was moved to television in 1954 and, after a rocky start in the ratings, finished its run in 1959-60 as No. 6. It was so popular that CBS continued it in prime-time reruns for two seasons after Young decided he'd had enough and the original run ended in 1960.
In contrast to the shows where comedy came largely from a blundering character, "Father Knows Best" aimed for chuckles more than belly-laughs as Jim Anderson and wife Margaret (played by Wyatt) thoughtfully soothed the growing pains of their Betty (Elinor Donahue), Bud (Billy Gray) and Kathy (Lauren Chapin).
Answering latter-day criticism that the show wasn't realistic, Young said that adding a subplot about illness or drugs "would have been like taking a beautiful painting and obliterating it with black paint--and that really would have turned the audience off. We never intended the series to be more than a weekly half-hour of fun and entertainment."
He recalled telling a producer friend, in the process of creating the original radio show, "I'd like to be the father, but not a boob." He said they strove to create "what we thought would be representative of a middle-class American family, if there was such a thing. There probably isn't, but that was what we were looking for."
"Marcus Welby, M.D.," which ran on ABC from 1969 to 1976, got even larger audiences with a similarly thoughtful, compassionate lead character. It was the highest-rated show in the 1970-71 season the first ABC show to be so rated and was in the top 15 shows for four seasons, 1969-73.
Young's role as the general practitioner who strove to understand patients' hopes and fears as well as their diseases brought him praise from medical groups.
"He's understanding and dedicated," Young once said of his character. "These are words that for some reason have fallen into disuse. I knew from the start that I had to come back to play this man."
"I enjoy acting," Young once remarked. "Whenever anyone says 'retire' I say, 'Retire to what?'"
He was married to the same woman for more than 60 years, and they had four daughters.
Young was born Feb. 22, 1907, in Chicago, fourth of five children of an Irish immigrant building contractor. The family moved to Los Angeles when he was 10.
He said he found the makeup he wore for high school plays a shield for much of his natural shyness. After graduation, he worked as a bank clerk by day and a student actor nights at the Pasadena Community Playhouse.
"The world has lost one of its last real leading men, and I have lost my father," daughter Betty Lou Gleason said in a statement.
The Rock Island, Illinois Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health, an affiliate of Trinity Regional Health System, is a comprehensive community mental health center named after Young for his work on passage of the Illinois Tax Referendum 708, which earmarked funds for both mental health community awareness programs and the Center itself.
|Bernard ['Benny'] Herrmann
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Composerand Conductor
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
1937 Columbia Workshop
1937 The American School Of the Air
1938 Men Against Death
1938 Mercury Theatre
1938 Campbell Playhouse
1941 The Free Company
1941 Orson Welles Theatre
1941 We Hold These Truths
1942 Hello Americans
1943 Passport For Adams
1944 Columbia Presents Corwin
1945 Service To the Front
1945 On A Note Of Triumph
1946 Hollywood Star Time
1946 Mercury Summer Theatre
1946 CBS Symphony Orchestra
1949 Mind In the Shadow
1951 Eileen Farrell
1951 Hallmark Playhouse
1952 Crime Classics
1956 CBS Radio Workshop
1960 Have Gun, Will Travel
Bernard Herrmann, ca. 1934
Two wunderkind of Radio, Welles and Herrmann, ca. 1938
Welles and Herrmann confer on Mercury Theatre score, ca. 1938
Alfred Hitchcock mugging with Herrmann, ca. 1955
Herrmann's secret weapon--lots and lots of coffee, ca. 1968
|Bernard Herrmann's genius was widely respected and appreciated while he was still working. As more of his work becomes available through newly circulating recordings from The Golden Age of Radio--and new releases of his work in Film--Bernard Herrmann's body of work has reached a far larger audience. This new audience rightfully recognizes Herrmann as one of the great Music Directors and composers of the 20th Century.
A favorite of Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Martin Scorsese alike, Herrmann's work spanned the atmospheric woodwinds that open Citizen Kane (1941), the piercing, frenetic violins of Psycho (1960), and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver (1976). All were signature Herrmann touches. He was one of the most original, distinctive, and influential composers to ever work in film.
'Benny' Herrmann showed his precocious talent early on, winning a composition prize at the age of 13. He founded his own orchestra at the age of 20. After writing scores for Orson Welles's radio shows in the 1930s--including Welles' alarming "The War of the Worlds" broadcast of 1938--he was the obvious choice to score Welles's debut film, Citizen Kane (1941). Welles then tapped Herrmann to score The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Herrmann directed that his name be removed from The Magnificent Ambersons score credits with Welles' concurrence. While Welles was in Europe after releasing the film to RKO, RKO studio executives, displeased with the length of the Mercury Production, chopped fifty minutes from the completed film. In the process they rescored much of the soundtrack, destroying Herrmann's meticulously crafted continuity in the process.
Herrmann was a prolific film composer, producing some of his most memorable work for Alfred Hitchcock, for whom he wrote nine scores. A notorious perfectionist and intensely demanding. He once observed that most directors don't have a clue about music, and routinely ignored most of their instructions--such as Hitchcock's suggestion that Psycho (1960) should have a jazz score and no music in the shower scene.
Herrmann, understandably so, had little patience for studio executives meddling with his meticulously scored film work. He ultimately ended his professional relationship with Alfred Hitchcock after Hitchcock rejected Herrmann's score for Torn Curtain (1966) on--again--pressure from studio executives.
He was also an early experimenter in the sounds used in film scores, most famously The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), which he scored for two theremins, pianos, and a horn section. The use of the theremin in a mainstream film score was considered risky at the time but, as usual, Herrmann proved the studios wrong. The theremin scoring for The Day The Earth Stood Still stands as one of that film's most immediately recognized and effective elements. Though mimicked in several other B-movie Sci-Fi films that followed, none of them showed how to use the atmosphere it created as effectively as Herrmann had.
Herrmann's last score was for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976.) Herrmann passed unexpectedly in his sleep, just hours after recording Taxi Driver's score.
Bernard Herrmann remains one of the most influential composers and arrangers in the history of both Radio and Film. For Golden Age Radio collectors, Herrmann's radio work remains some of the most prized recordings in their holdings. We count ourselves among them.
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