When Norman Jewison was at the University of Toronto in the late 1940s he directed some comedy and variety shows on campus. It spawned a career that would see him become one of the greatest filmmakers in Hollywood history.
But before movie-making, there was television. After he graduated from Victoria College, Jewison worked for the BBC in London for two years before coming back to Canada to write and direct musicals, dramas and comedy-variety shows for the CBC.
In 1958, he was invited to New York to direct the CBS series Your Hit Parade and later directed a series starring Judy Garland. He won three Emmy Awards during that period. It led him to his career in filmmaking.
Jewison gained international acclaim for directing movies such as The Russians are Coming (1966), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Fiddler on the Roof (1971) as well as And Justice for All (1979).
"My whole sense of social justice, dealing with subject matters much later in my life in the U.S., was incubated at the University of Toronto."
In 1984, he re-examined 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. He then directed Agnes of God, his first film made in Canada, and later Moonstruck (1987) which was a major hit and Academy Award winner.
At the 1999 Academy Awards show, Jewison received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his lifetime achievements. The same year, he directed Hurricane, about the wrongful murder conviction of boxer Hurricane Carter.
Jewison was installed as Victoria University’s 12th Chancellor in May 2004, with his term concluding in October 2010. In October of that year, Victoria University announced the creation of the Norman Jewison Stream for Imagination and the Arts, part of the Vic One program for first-year students at U of T. Made possible by a $1-million gift from Blake Goldring, chairman and CEO of AGF Management Ltd., the program provides students with an opportunity to study how the arts play an integral role in confronting social problems and how to develop original creative work to address such problems.