Today we remember television producer Norman Lear, who has died at the age of 101 of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles.
He brought us some of the best TV shows: “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “Sanford and Son,” “One Day at a Time,” “The Jeffersons,” and “Good Times.”
He also brought us classic films such as “The Princess Bride” and “Fried Green Tomatoes.”
Norman Lear had a knack for developing comedy with a focus on social and political issues.
His family released a statement:
“Norman lived a life of curiosity, tenacity, and empathy. He deeply loved our country and spent a lifetime helping to preserve its founding ideals of justice and equality for all. He began his career in the earliest days of live television and discovered a passion for writing about the real lives of Americans, not a glossy ideal. At first, his ideas were met with closed doors and misunderstanding. However, he stuck to his conviction that the ‘foolishness of the human condition’ made great television, and eventually he was heard.”
Lear’s first sitcom, “All in the Family,” hit the air in 1971. He tackled such topics as racism, feminism, and social inequalities that no one else would touch. The show focused on the Bunker family and its patriarch, Archie Bunker.
Lear wrote in his 2014 memoir that he drew from real-life experiences to create his characters. “The audiences themselves taught me that you can get some wonderful laughs on the surface with funny performers and good jokes. But if you want them laughing from the belly, you stand a better chance if you can get them caring first.”
Director Rob Reiner played Bunker’s son-in-law Michael and posted on social media: “I loved Norman Lear with all my heart. He was my second father. Sending my love to Lyn and the whole Lear family.”
Lear’s career was not without controversy. He established the liberal political organization People for the American Way. President Richard Nixon put Lear on his “enemies list,” and he was also dubbed the “No. 1 enemy of the American family” by Jerry Falwell.
Still, Lear enjoyed a long and successful career. He was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1999, received Kennedy Center Honors in 2017, and became the oldest nominee and winner of an Emmy in 2019 and again in 2020!
Lear told CNN in 2022 that he credited work, lox and bagels, and the love of his family and laughter for his longevity.
Lear leaves behind a wife, Lynn, and six children.