Receiving his undergraduate education at Malvern Collegiate Institute, Victoria College and University of Toronto, Ontario-born director and producer Norman Jewison also studied piano and music theory at the Royal Conservatory. Following service in the navy and a brief sojourn as a cab driver, Jewison worked as an actor and scenarist in London. From 1953 through 1958, he was one of the top directors with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television service; he continued to turn out top-ranked TV work when he was signed by CBS in New York, winning three Emmys between 1958 and 1961. His first feature film was 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962), which led to a long-term contract with Universal. In 1963, Jewison took on the daunting task of executive producing the much-troubled Judy Garland Show, emerging from this failed 26-week project with little if any egg on his face. The first of Jewison's films to be greeted with the same critical effusion as his TV work was The Cincinnati Kid (1965). He went on to earn Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his direction of In the Heat of the Night (1967). Not all of his subsequent films were treated kindly by the press, though he continued to enjoy respectable box-office showings. One of his biggest critical and commercial hits was Fiddler on the Roof (1971), despite complaints from devotees of the original Broadway version that Jewison weeded out too much of the musical's colorful ethnicism (some wags referred to the director as "Norman Christianson"). Jewison again hit it big with 1988's Moonstruck, for which he won the "Best Director" prize at the Berlin Film Festival. His next major directorial effort was The Hurricane in 1999; the story of a champion middle-weight boxer unjustly jailed for a murder he didn't commit, it starred Denzel Washington in the title role.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Served in the Canadian Navy during WWII.
- Became an advocate for civil rights after hitchhiking through the American south before entering college.
- Moved to London after college and gained experience working in various capacities for the BBC.
- Helped start the directing career of his award-winning editor, Hal Ashby.
- Felt In the Heat of the Night was a bad book with a good premise for a movie.
- Did not direct a movie in his home country until 1985's Agnes of God.
- Was awarded Officer of the Order of Canada in 1982, and promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada in 1993.
- Was appointed Chancellor of Victoria University, his alma mater, in May 2004.
- Given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Director's Guild of America in 2010.