When Norman Corwin was in his 80s, he was in the habit on Sunday mornings of phoning his father, who asked his son the same question every time: "Norman, are you keeping an active mind?" No one kept a more active mind than Corwin, the poet laureate of radio, who died Oct. 18 at 101. And no one had a longer, stronger love affair with America. From his trailblazing radio plays in the '30s and '40s, Corwin celebrated, in lofty prose and street-corner colloquialism, the American promise and the American people. No wonder President Franklin Roosevelt called on him at the start of World War II to produce what became We Hold These Truths, a paean to the Bill of Rights, one of the most acclaimed radio dramas of all time.
In the 1990s and in his 90s, Corwin created his last series of new programs for NPR. He could etch in a few stained-glass words or a metaphor what most of us who call ourselves writers would take half a page to concoct.
Lear, who produced All in the Family and many other sitcoms, founded People for the American Way