March 3rd, 2024

Norman Jewison, director of ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ ‘Moonstruck,’ dies at age 97

By The Canadian Press on January 22, 2024.

Film director Norman Jewison sits for a portrait at his office at Yorktown Productions Ltd. in Toronto, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

Canadian Norman Jewison, who directed numerous Oscar-recognized films – including “In the Heat of the Night” and “Fiddler on the Roof” – while advocating for homegrown cinematic talent, has died.

A publicist for the Toronto-born filmmaker confirmed that the director died peacefully at his home on Saturday.

Jewison began his career as a young stage actor, but it was early work in directing variety shows at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., that helped open doors to Hollywood.

The five-time Oscar-winning 1967 crime drama “In the Heat of the Night” was the first of several Jewison films that probed the effects of racism.

Jewison revisited the theme of racial tension with the three-time Oscar-nominated “A Soldier’s Story” in 1984, and later with 1999’s “The Hurricane,” which earned Denzel Washington an Oscar nomination for best actor.

Other Oscar-winning or nominated features by Jewison include the crime drama “The Thomas Crown Affair,” the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and the thrillers “…And Justice for All” and “Agnes of God.”

The movie maker, known for his hearty laugh and feisty confidence, always hesitated to pick a favourite film of his, often saying they were all like his children and all a result of determination, good timing, the right casting and luck.

Jewison was also a beloved colleague and coach in the eyes of many cinematic heavyweights, who said his directing style could draw out the best in them. Actress Olympia Dukakis, for instance, called him a “master craftsman” and “consummate teacher” during her acceptance speech for her Golden Globe Award for “Moonstruck.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2024.

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