Norman Lear, 'All in the Family' and 'The Jeffersons' producer, dies at 101

December 7, 2023

Blockbuster 1970s television producer Norman Lear died Tuesday of natural causes at his Los Angeles home, Lear family spokesperson Lara Bergthold said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Norman lived a life of curiosity, tenacity, and empathy," his family said in a statement. "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."

Lear was one of the most prolific television producers in history. He got his start writing for comedy shows in the 1950s, but was best known for a string of sitcoms in the 1970s that included All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and One Day at a Time, along with numerous spinoffs.

Lear's sitcoms were not only funny, they also dealt with serious and until then taboo topics like racism, abortion, rape, and homosexuality.

Breaking new ground in television

His groundbreaking All in the Family pitted conservative curmudgeon Archie Bunker against his liberal son-in-law, "Meathead."

Never mind that the script always favored the liberal side even back then, it was funny, and that's what mattered.

The Jeffersons, Maude, Archie Bunker's Place, and Gloria were spinoffs of the original hit, and he also pioneered One Day at a Time in the 1990s as well as producing its reboot on Netflix from 2017-2020.

Other hit sitcoms he produced included Good Times and Sanford and Son.

"The soundtrack of my life has been laughter"

Lear said in 2021 about his audiences, "I like to think what they saw was the foolishness of the human condition."

"To be able to laugh in a rehearsal at something you hadn't expected, and then to stand to the side or behind an audience laughing, and watch them, their bodies – a couple of hundred people as one – when something makes them laugh, I don't think I've ever seen a more spiritual moment than an audience in a belly laugh!" Lear said. "The soundtrack of my life has been laughter."

He won six of the 19 Emmy Awards he was nominated for along with two Peabody Awards.

He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1984, and in 2017, received the Kennedy Center Honors.

Before his television career, Lear served with distinction in World War II and stayed in the military until 1950.

He is survived by his wife Lyn, a filmmaker, and six children from three marriages, along with four grandchildren.

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