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Norman Jewison

Norman JewisonJuly 21, 1926, Toronto

Norman Jewison is one of Canada’s most renowned and admired filmmakers. The Toronto-born and -raised director, writer and producer is the creator of a body of work spanning six decades that includes a diverse array of commercial successes and memorable, often socially conscious, narratives. Jewison’s vision, whether in the form of romantic comedy, musical or serious drama, has frequently struck a chord with the popular consciousness and has consistently received recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; his films have earned no less than 12 Academy Awards® and 45 nominations in total.

Born in 1926, Jewison joined the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII. Upon his return to Canada in 1946, he enrolled at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. Jewison worked and studied for two years at the BBC in London before beginning a seven-year association with CBC Television in Toronto, where he wrote and directed musicals, dramas and comedy-variety shows. In 1958, Jewison was invited to New York to direct the CBS TV series Your Hit Parade, and subsequently, was hired to direct several other popular TV shows. He received three Emmy Awards for his television work.

The 1960s saw Jewison emerge as a major Hollywood film talent. Working for Universal Studios, he directed his first feature film in 1963, 40 Pounds of Trouble, starring Tony Curtis, followed by a series of romantic comedies: The Thrill of It All (1963), Send Me No Flowers (1964) and The Art of Love (1965). Next, Jewison directed and co-wrote the gambling classic The Cincinnati Kid (1965), starring Steve McQueen, then worked on a succession of popular features for United Artists, among them the political satire The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966), the stylish caper film The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and Fiddler on the Roof (1971), a hugely successful adaptation of the Broadway musical. However, it was in 1967 that Jewison made an indelible mark with the murder mystery In the Heat of the Night, which tackled the subject of racial intolerance and hate with unprecedented honesty. The film won five Academy Awards that year, including the Oscar for best motion picture.

Jewison’s career took a downturn in the 1970s as he experimented with various genres, directing the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), the futuristic thriller Rollerball (1975) and the political drama F.I.S.T. (1978). He bounced back at the end of the decade with the angry, ironic jab at the American judicial system ...And Justice for All (1979), starring Al Pacino. He returned to form in 1984, re-examining the theme of racism in his film adaptation of Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play A Soldier’s Story, which received three Academy Award nominations. In 1984, Jewison directed Agnes of God, the first film he made in Canada, followed by the Academy Award-winning box office hit Moonstruck (1987).

In 1986, Jewison made an enormous contribution to Canadian cinema by founding the Canadian Film Centre, which has a mandate to create and promote Canadian cinema. Among the talented directors to have passed through its doors include Don McKellar, John Greyson, Clement Virgo and Laurie Lynd. Jewison remained involved in Canadian cinema throughout the 1990s. He was a mentor to many filmmakers, including Bruce McDonald, who he collaborated with as executive producer on the critically acclaimed feature Dance Me Outside in 1995.

In 1982, Jewison was honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 1993, he was elevated to the status of Companion of the Order of Canada. His lifelong work as a producer was acknowledged at the 1999 Academy Awards when he received the Irving Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. That same year, Jewison completed the controversial The Hurricane (1999) about the wrongful murder conviction of boxing champion Ruben Carter. The film reprises the familiar themes of racial and social injustice that have surfaced at various points throughout Jewison's illustrious career, for which he was recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Film Centre.

By George Kaltsounakis

Film and video work includes

Let’s See, 1954 (producer; TV)
On Stage, 1954 (producer; TV)
The Barris Beat, 1956 (producer; TV)
Your Hit Parade, 1958 (director) The Judy Garland Show, 1962 (producer; TV special)
40 Pounds of Trouble, 1963 (director)
The Judy Garland Show series, 1963-1964 (producer; TV)
The Thrill of It All, 1963 (director)
Send Me No Flowers, 1964 (director)
The Art of Love, 1965 (director)
The Cincinnati Kid, 1965 (director)
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, 1966 (director; producer)
In the Heat of the Night, 1967 (director)
The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968 (director; producer)
Gaily, Gaily, 1969 (director; producer)
The Landlord, 1970 (producer)
Fiddler on the Roof, 1971 (director; producer)
Billy Two Hats, 1973 (producer)
Jesus Christ Superstar, 1973 (director; co-screenwriter with Melvyn Bragg; producer)
Rollerball, 1975 (director; producer)
F.I.S.T., 1978 (director; producer)
... And Justice for All, 1979 (director; producer)
The Dogs of War, 1980 (producer)
Best Friends, 1982 (director; producer)
Agnes of God, 1984 (director; producer)
Iceman, 1984 (producer)
A Soldier’s Story, 1984 (director; producer)
Moonstruck, 1987 (director; producer)
In Country, 1989 (director; producer)
January Man, 1989 (producer)
Other People’s Money, 1991 (director; producer)
Dance Me Outside, 1994 (producer)
Only You, 1994 (director; producer)
Bogus, 1995 (director; producer)
Picture Windows, 1995 (producer; TV)
The Rez, 1996 (producer; TV)
The Stupids, 1996 (actor)
The Hurricane, 1999 (director; producer)
Dinner With Friends, 2001 (director; producer; TV)
Walter and Henry, 2001 (producer; TV)
The Statement, 2003, in production (director)

Note: Updated to January 2003.

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