Legendary TV Producer Norman Lear Dies at 101

Legendary TV Producer Norman Lear Dies at 101

TV producer Norman Lear, who brought Archie Bunker and George Jefferson into the living rooms of millions of Americans, died Tuesday at 101.

Lear, whose TV hits of the 1970s and 1980s included “Sanford and Son,” Good Times,” “One Day at a Time,” “Diff’rent Strokes” and “Maude,” died at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes, according to Variety.

“Thank you for the moving outpouring of love and support in honor of our wonderful husband, father, and grandfather,” Lear’s family said in a statement.

“Norman lived a life of creativity, tenacity, and empathy,” the family said. “He deeply loved our country and spent a lifetime helping to preserve its founding ideals of justice and equality for all. Knowing and loving him has been the greatest of gifts.

“We ask for your understanding as we mourn privately in celebration of this remarkable human being.”

Lear took TV comedies by storm in 1971 with “All in the Family,” summed up by Variety as a sitcom “about a conservative, outspokenly bigoted working-class man and his fractious Queens family.”

Although Archie Bunker’s diatribes made some critics fume, The New York Times wrote that in March 1972, six months after the show debuted, 60 percent of America’s TV sets were watching the show.

Lear said the show grew from an intentional effort to free TV from the bubble it had been in during the 1960s.

“You looked around television in those years and the biggest problem any family faced was ‘Mother dented the car, and how do you keep Dad from finding out’; ‘the boss is coming to dinner, and the roast’s ruined.’ The message that was sending out was that we didn’t have any problems,” he said during a 2012 Times interview.

Lear said the show did more than entertain.

“In the mail through the years, or when people have talked to me, they had an uncle, or a parent, or whatever. And when the show was over, they talked. So we triggered conversation about these issues. And that’s the only thing that I can be sure of,” he said.

In a 2021 CBS interview, Lear talked about the impact of the show.

“There was an expression about ‘water cooler moments,’ where people met at the water cooler and talked. And on Monday they talked about Saturday’s show, ‘All in the Family,'” he said, noting that what he thought attracted viewers was the ability to laugh at “the foolishness of the human condition.”

Lear spoke about watching the show as it was being recorded for broadcast.

“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!” he said.

“The soundtrack of my life has been laughter,” he said.

“Norman Lear’s profound influence on television will never be forgotten. He was a creative icon whose comedic and courageous perspective on the America he loved had an immeasurable impact on our network, our viewers and television overall,” CBS said in a statement Thursday.

“His funny, realistic and fearless approach to storytelling rang true in his sharp writing and rich characters. He redefined the sitcom by introducing topics that had previously been avoided, including race, poverty and sexism. And he did it all with wit and heart, making it relatable to millions of Americans,” the network said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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