Norman Frederick Jewison, CC, O.Ont is a Canadian film director, producer, actor and founder of the Canadian Film Centre. Among his works as a director, one finds In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, Fiddler on the Roof, Jesus Christ Superstar, Moonstruck, The Hurricane, and The Statement. Norman Jewison has addressed important social and political issues throughout his directing and producing career, often making controversial or complicated subjects accessible to mainstream audiences.
Jewison, who in spite of his surname is not Jewish, was born in Toronto, the son of Dorothy Irene and Percy Joseph Jewison, who managed a general store and post office. He attended Kew Beach School, and while growing up in the 1930s displayed an aptitude for performing and theatre. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II, and after being discharged traveled in the American South, where he encountered segregation, an experience that would influence his later work.
Jewison attended Victoria College in the University of Toronto, graduating with a B.A. in 1949. As a student he was involved in writing, directing, and acting in various theatrical productions, including the All-Varsity Revue in 1949. Following graduation, he moved to London, where he worked sporadically as a script writer for a children’s show and bit part actor for the British Broadcasting Corporation, while supporting himself with odd jobs. Out of work in Britain in late 1951, he came back to Canada to become a production trainee at CBLT in Toronto, which was preparing for the launch of CBC Television.
When CBC Television went on the air in the fall of 1952, Jewison was an assistant director. During the next seven years he wrote, directed, and produced a wide variety of musicals, comedy-variety shows, dramas, and specials, including the The Big Revue, Showtime and The Barris Beat. In 1953 he married Margaret Ann “Dixie” Dixon, a former model. They would have three children – Michael, Kevin, and Jennifer – who would all pursue careers in the entertainment world.