Producer/director Norman F. Jewison will receive the Irving G. Thalberg memorial award on Oscar night.
Academy president Robert Rehme praised Jewison as “eclectic and sensitive” and said his films “paint evocative pictures of the human experience that have become icons of American life.”
Jewison began his career after a stint in the Canadian navy at the tail end of WWII. When the war ended, he finished college, drove a cab and went to London. He worked as an actor and writer for the BBC before returning to his native Toronto to direct television shows for the CBC from 1952-58.
Jewison then moved to New York, where he produced and directed a number of highly-praised musical-variety TV shows starring, among others, Judy Garland, Harry Belafonte and Frank Sinatra.
Jewison’s films have earned more than 10 Academy Awards (including best picture for “In the Heat of the Night”) and 45 nominations.
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Four of the films he’s produced have received Academy Award nominations for best picture: “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “A Soldier’ Story” and “Moonstruck.”
As a director, Jewison has received three Oscar noms, for “In the Heat of the Night,” “Moonstruck” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Jewison will be the 32nd person to receive the award since it was first given in 1937 to Darryl F. Zanuck (who went on to receive it twice more.) The award is not given every year. The last recipient was Saul Zaentz in 1996.