Norman Kenneth Campbell, OC, OOnt, composer, television producer, director (born 4 February 1924 in Los Angeles, California; died 12 April 2004 in Toronto, ON).
Norman Kenneth Campbell, OC, OOnt, composer, television producer, director (born 4 February 1924 in Los Angeles, California; died 12 April 2004 in Toronto, ON). Norman Campbell produced and directed some of CBC Television's first broadcasts and was a champion for the presentation of ballet on TV. He produced 28 ballets for television, as well as notable productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, and music specials featuring the works of Robert Farnon, Percy Faith, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He also directed music specials and sitcoms in the US. He was made a Member of the Order of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Academy, and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Education and Early Career
Born in California to Canadian parents, Campbell grew up in Vancouver, earning a BA in mathematics and physics from the University of British Columbia in 1944. He also acted in theatre and radio, and originally planned to pursue a career in meteorology. While he was learning to be a weatherman on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, he composed several songs that brought him to the attention of CBC producer Mavor Moore, who hired him to write songs for Juliette’s radio program, Here’s Juliette, including the theme song “Summer Romance.” Campbell became a music producer for CBC Radio in Vancouver in 1948, and moved to Toronto in 1952 to work in television.
On 8 September 1952, Campbell directed the first program ever broadcast on English CBC TV, a 15-minute promo for the evening’s programming called "Let’s See." He also composed music for the CBC musical comedies Take to the Woods (1955) and The Gay Deceivers (1958).
In 1956, he produced CBC TV's first full-length ballet, a production of Swan Lake with the National Ballet, and co-wrote, with his wife Elaine and Mavor Moore, the music for CBC’s production of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. They then adapted it into Anne of Green Gables, The Musical, which premiered at the Charlottetown Festival in 1965 and went on to become the longest-running musical in Canadian history, playing there annually for more than 50 years. It also had a successful run in England in 1969–70. Campbell worked with the Shiki Theatrical Company in Tokyo on a production that opened there in 1980 and was remounted several times.
In 1966, Campbell won the Prix René Barthélemy at the International Television Festival in Monte Carlo for his production of Romeo and Juliet. He won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1970 for his production of Cinderella with the National Ballet, and received a nomination in 1971 for Swan Lake. Campbell also produced the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's The Nutcracker in 1975, the National Ballet's production of Giselle in 1976 and The Mikado in 1963 for the Stratford Festival.
In 1972, he composed the music and his wife, Elaine, wrote the lyrics for The Wonder of It All, a musical drama based on the life of Emily Carr. He also helmed notable productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, and music specials featuring the work of Robert Farnon, Percy Faith, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. His opera productions included Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel with Maureen Forrester (1970) and Puccini's La Rondine with Teresa Stratas (1972).
Music East, Music West (1978), Campbell's filmed account of the TSO's historic tour through China, was honoured by the Canadian Music Council in 1978. In 1982, he directed the TV coverage of the royal gala concert given at the National Arts Centre and of the gala opening of Roy Thomson Hall. In 1986, he won a Gemini Award for his 1985 CBC TV version of the Stratford Festival's Pirates of Penzance. Also in 1986, he produced and directed the CBC's version of the Canadian Opera Company's Onegin (nominated for two Geminis) and the COC's Dialogue of the Carmelites.
Campbell also worked in the US, where he directed TV specials for Diana Ross, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Olivia Newton-John and Andy Williams, as well as episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family.
In 1980, Campbell received ACTRA’s John Drainie Award for his significant contributions to broadcasting in Canada. He was the subject of a TVOntario program in 1987.
Prix René Barthélemy (Romeo and Juliet), International Television Festival, Monte Carlo (1966)
Outstanding Variety or Musical Program – Classical Music (NET Festival), Primetime Emmy Awards (1970)
Member, Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts (1975)
Officer, Order of Canada (1978)
John Drainie Award, ACTRA Awards (1980)
Award of Excellence, Banff Television Festival (1982)
Best Performing Arts Program (Pirates of Penzance), Gemini Awards (1986)
Member, Order of Ontario (1998)
Norman Campbell, “Scrambled Scores, Solid Sets and Sandpaper Soles,” Opera Canada, vol. 65 (December 1975).
“Conquering China,” The Canadian, 30 September 1978.
“Norman Campbell and Television,” Opera Canada (Fall 1972).
“Notes on a Career in Musicals and Television,” Canadian Composer, no. 89 (March 1974).
Jack Batten, “Cool Hand Campbell,” The Canadian, 30 September 1978.
Clyde Gilmour, “Norman Campbell Hates Hot-Air Hand Dryers,” Toronto Star, 21 August 1982.
John Haslett, “Making the Cameras Dance with the Performers,” Toronto Globe and Mail, 1 April 1989.