Bernard Slade Newbound was born in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, on May 2, 1930. His parents, Fred and Bessie (née Walbourne) Newbound, were originally from England. When he was four, Slade moved to England with his family and settled in London near the Croydon airport, where his father worked as a mechanic. With the threat of war, Slade, like many children, was evacuated from London, spending the year 1939 in a foster home. Shortly after his return to London at the age of ten, the Battle of Britain broke out in full force: The first daylight bombing of London destroyed the Croydon airport, four blocks from Slade’s home, and Slade’s father was one of the few workers there to survive the attack.
Life in England took on a restless quality during the war years. The family moved often, and Slade attended some thirteen schools around the country between the late 1930’s and 1948. Despite the war, Slade found time to attend the theater and to act in several amateur productions, among them Noël Coward’s I’ll Leave It to You (pr. 1919). In 1948, the family left England to return to Canada, Slade taking with him his love for the theater and a few pages of notes for plays of his own.
In Canada, Slade worked briefly at a customs office but soon quit his job to resume acting, first in summer stock and later for year-round theaters, where he often did a different play each week. He acted in more than three hundred plays in all, including virtually every romantic comedy written in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Although Slade disliked the indignity of looking for work as an actor, the experience of being in front of an audience every night eventually paid off as he absorbed a sense of how and when a play works.
In 1957, after nine years of acting in winter and summer stock theater, Slade sat down during a break in the play in which he was performing and wrote a television play designed to provide himself with a good part. Both the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and, in the United States, the National Broadcasting Company bought the play but found different actors to take Slade’s part. The Prizewinner, Slade’s first television play, was very much in the tradition of live broadcast drama popularized by the U.S. Steel Hour and the Goodyear TV Playhouse in New York, particularly the work of such writers as Paddy Chayefsky and Tad Mosel. Slade went on to write many more teleplays, a number of which were produced in the United States as well...
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