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New KET documentary Robert Penn Warren: A Vision explores author’s life, features previously unreleased footage


New KET documentary Robert Penn Warren: A Vision explores author’s life, features previously unreleased footage

For Release: 10/12/18 1:24 PM

The KET production Robert Penn Warren: A Vision explores the life and career of Kentucky’s acclaimed writer, author of the 1946 novel All the King’s Men, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Robert Penn Warren: A Vision premieres Monday, Oct. 29 at 9/8 pm on KET.

Warren was born in 1905 in Guthrie, Kentucky, and more than a century later, KET interviews Warren’s daughter, Rosanna, among many others, as part of the documentary.

“When I return to my father’s birthplace, I feel a tumult of different emotions,” Rosanna says in the program. “I feel touched by the reality of his past, his youth, the world of his youth. And I feel very moved by the landscapes of western Kentucky.”

In making the documentary, the Warren family gave KET producer Tom Thurman access to more than 40 home movies – footage that had never been seen before.

“This home movie footage gave me a unique and intimate look into the family life of the Warrens,” Thurman said. “It humanizes Robert Penn Warren and provides a look at what he was like not just as a writer but also a husband and father.”

The documentary examines Warren’s 1946 novel of political corruption loosely based on the life of Louisiana governor and senator Huey P. Long. All The King’s Men was translated into film two years later and won the Academy Award for Best Picture, cementing the writer’s reputation in the public’s eye.

Warren, despite his work as a novelist, journalist and critic over a six-decade career, was primarily known as a poet. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for poetry, he was also named U.S. Poet Laureate in 1986.

Thurman said that when he first began production of the film, his intent was to focus on Warren’s works of fiction and poetry, including All The King’s Men. Once Thurman began his research, however, he quickly learned how important Warren’s three books on civil rights and race relations were to the author.

“They’re a window into how he viewed the country via the civil rights movement and race relations,” he said. “They serve as documentation of his changing views on race relations as someone who grew up near the turn of century in southwestern Kentucky.”

Robert Penn Warren: A Vision is a KET production, produced by Tom Thurman.

A portion of the program was funded by a grant from Kentucky Humanities.

KET is Kentucky’s largest classroom, where learning comes to life for more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile. Learn more about Kentucky’s preeminent public media organization at, on Twitter @KET and at


Todd Piccirilli
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications