Norman Jewison has been a vibrant force in the television and motion picture industry for more than four decades. He began his career in show business as an actor on stage and radio in Canada. After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1949, he participated in a two-year work/study program with the BBC in London, followed by a return to Canada, where his directing career began with seven years as a director, writer and producer for CBC-TV in Canada. In the late 1950’s, Jewison moved to New York where he directed the Variety shows like Your Hit Parade, The Andy Williams Show, Tonight with Belafonte, The Fabulous Fifties, Danny Kaye's television debut and several Judy Garland specials, collecting three Emmys along the way.
Jewison’s interest in stories dealing with race and injustice was in part motivated by the discrimination he witnessed in his early years living in the United States. Even then an agitator for change, Jewison booked African-American singer Tommy Edwards on Your Hit Parade, breaking their sponsor’s unspoken ban on black performers. Tonight With Belafonte in 1959 was the first American television special to feature an African-American performer, which also earned him his first DGA Award Nomination.
His film debut as a director came with the comedy 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962), followed quickly by several more romantic comedies. With The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Jewison broke out of the romantic comedy genre as he began exploring a wide range of styles as well as the complex social issues such as racism and corruption that would characterize a number of his films throughout the coming years. The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming (1966) garnered Jewison his first Feature Film DGA nomination. In the Heat of the Night (1967) won five Academy Awards including Best Picture, and Jewison was nominated for Best Director, and the DGA Award for a second straight year.
Additional Academy Award nominations for Best Director followed for Fiddler on the Roof (1971) and Moonstruck (1987). A Soldier’s Story (1984) brought his third Feature Film DGA nomination. Jewison’s 24 feature films also include The Thomas Crowne Affair (1968), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), …And Justice For All (1979), and The Hurricane (1999).
Jewison has been nominated for four Oscars and his films have received 12 Academy Awards and 46 nominations. In 1999, Jewison received the prestigious Irving Thalberg Award at the Academy Awards. In 1992 he was made a Companion to The Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor. In 2004, his autobiography This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me was published, a candid memoir of his life in film and television.
In 2010, Jewison was the recipient of the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to him for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction. Jewison served on the DGA Western Directors Council from 1978 to 1984 and the DGA National Board from 1979 to 1983. He also served as a committee alternate for the Directors Guild Foundation from 1995 to 2003.