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Norman Lear

Norman Lear

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Also Known As: Norman Milton Lear Died:
Born: July 27, 1922 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New Haven, Connecticut, USA Profession: director, producer, screenwriter, salesperson, baby photographer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The creator of "All in the Family" (CBS, 1971-79), "Sanford and Son" (NBC, 1972-77) and "One Day at a Time" (CBS, 1975-1984), Norman Lear changed the face of American TV comedy with a string of socially-conscious hit sitcoms which gave a voice to the previously marginalized working class. Born in New Haven, CT in 1922, Norman Lear studied at Boston's Emerson College but dropped out in 1942 to join the Air Force where he served as a radio operator/gunner and won the Air Medal after flying 52 combat missions during World War II. Following his discharge, Lear worked in PR and as a door-to-door salesman before joining forces with Ed Simmons to write variety show "Ford Star Revue" (NBC, 1950-51). The pair were then hired by Jerry Lewis to pen material for "The Colgate Comedy Hour" (NBC, 1950-55), before Lear served as producer on "The Martha Raye Show" (NBC, 1956-58), teamed up with Bud Yorkin to form Tandem Productions, and created his very first show, the Peter Fonda-starring western "The Deputy" (NBC, 1959-1961). Lear earned an Oscar nomination for his screenwriting work on satire "Divorce American Style" (1967) and reunited with its star Dick Van Dyke on his only big screen directorial effort, "Cold...

The creator of "All in the Family" (CBS, 1971-79), "Sanford and Son" (NBC, 1972-77) and "One Day at a Time" (CBS, 1975-1984), Norman Lear changed the face of American TV comedy with a string of socially-conscious hit sitcoms which gave a voice to the previously marginalized working class. Born in New Haven, CT in 1922, Norman Lear studied at Boston's Emerson College but dropped out in 1942 to join the Air Force where he served as a radio operator/gunner and won the Air Medal after flying 52 combat missions during World War II. Following his discharge, Lear worked in PR and as a door-to-door salesman before joining forces with Ed Simmons to write variety show "Ford Star Revue" (NBC, 1950-51). The pair were then hired by Jerry Lewis to pen material for "The Colgate Comedy Hour" (NBC, 1950-55), before Lear served as producer on "The Martha Raye Show" (NBC, 1956-58), teamed up with Bud Yorkin to form Tandem Productions, and created his very first show, the Peter Fonda-starring western "The Deputy" (NBC, 1959-1961). Lear earned an Oscar nomination for his screenwriting work on satire "Divorce American Style" (1967) and reunited with its star Dick Van Dyke on his only big screen directorial effort, "Cold Turkey" (1971). But it was on the small screen where Lear attained legendary status thanks to a prolific run of revolutionary 1970s sitcoms. Loosely based on British comedy "'Til Death Do Us Part" (BBC1, 1965-1975), "All in the Family" (CBS, 1971-79) first showcased Lear's signature style of a live studio audience, videotape shoots and boundary-pushing subject matter including sexuality, race and, perhaps most notably, social class. Lear won multiple Emmys for the show, and followed it up with another transatlantic adaptation that was credited with paving the way for the African-American sitcom, "Sanford and Son" (NBC, 1972-77). "Maude" (CBS, 1972-78), "The Jeffersons" (CBS, 1975-1985) and "Good Times" (CBS, 1974-79), all of which were spin-offs from Lear's first sitcom, continued his golden streak, as did "One Day at a Time" (CBS, 1975-1984), a typically trailblazing affair whose successful 2017 reboot he also executive produced. After adding to his prolific body of work with "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" (Syndication, 1976-77), "All That Glitters" (Syndication, 1977), "All's Fair (CBS, 1976-77), "Fernwood 2 Night" (Syndication, 1977) and "The Baxters" (Syndication 1979-1981), Lear appeared in front of the camera to host the revival of "Quiz Kids" (CBS, 1981-82) and helmed "I Love Liberty" (1982), a two-hour entertainment special produced by the organization he founded to combat religious interference in politics. After serving as executive producer on "The Princess Bride" (1987) and "Fried Green Tomatoes" (1991), Lear attempted an unsuccessful TV comeback in the 1990s with shows such as "Sunday Dinner" (CBS, 1991), "The Powers That Be" (1992-93) and "704 Hauser" (1994), served as consultant on several episodes of "South Park" (Comedy Central, 1997-) and appeared as the subject of documentary "Just Another Version of You" (2017).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Cold Turkey (1971) Director
2.
  I Love Liberty (1982) Creator

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Ghettophysics (2010)
3.
 Color Adjustment (1991) Himself
4.
 Intimate Portrait: Isabel Sanford (2003) Interviewee
5.
 Intimate Portrait: Linda Gray (2003) Interviewee
6.
 Intimate Portrait: Bea Arthur (2003) Interviewee
7.
 Everybody Loves Raymond: The First Six Years (2002) Special Appearance
8.
 Ben Stein's Brain (2001) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1980:
Co-created (with Alex Haley) and co-executive produced, "Palmerstown USA" (CBS)
1975:
Executive produced the CBS sitcom, "One Day at a Time"
2007:
Executive produced, "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song" about the folk artist
1962:
Produced "The Andy Williams Show" (NBC)
1987:
Produced Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride"
1991:
Produced the film, "Fried Green Tomatoes"
1984:
Produced the short-lived ABC sitcom, "a.k.a. Pablo"
1986:
Sold Embassy Communications to Columbia Pictures (then owned by the Coca-Cola Company); founded Act III Communications (with Tom McGrath)
1967:
Wrote and produced, "Divorce American Style"; earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay
1975:
Created "The Jeffersons" (CBS), another spin-off series from "All in the Family"
1974:
Ended partnership with Yorkin and went on to form TAT Communications
1986:
Financed Rob Reiner's second film, "Stand by Me"; produced by Lear's Act III Communications
1953:
First screenwriting credit, "Scared Stiff"
1961:
First TV pilot as producer, "Band of Gold" (CBS)
1951:
Joined the NBC show "Ford Star Review" as a staff writer
2001:
Produced (with Rob Reiner) a filmed, dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia
1955:
Produced the NBC series, "The Martha Raye Show"; also wrote and directed several episodes
1976:
Produced the soap opera parody, "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" (syndicated)
1991:
Returned to series TV as creator and executive producer of "Sunday Dinner" (CBS)
1976:
Created the CBS series, "All's Fair"
1971:
Feature directing debut "Cold Turkey" starred Dick Van Dyke
1984:
Financed Rob Reiner's mockumentary, "This is Spinal Tap"
1959:
Founded Tandem Productions with Bud Yorkin
1963:
Produced first film (with Yorkin), "Come Blow Your Horn"; also scripted
1982:
Produced the ABC variety special, "I Love Liberty"
1942:
Served in the Air Force during WWII
2003:
Voiced Benjamin Franklin in an episode of "South Park" (Comedy Central)
1982:
With partner Jerry Perenchio purchased Embassy Films; re-named company Embassy Communications
:
Worked in public relations
1972:
Co-created and co-executive produced, "Sanford and Son" (NBC)
1972:
Created and co-executive produced, "Maude" (CBS); a spin-off sitcom from "All in the Family"
1994:
Created and produced the short-lived CBS sitcom, "704 Hauser Street"
1992:
Created and produced, "The Powers That Be" (NBC)
1959:
Created first series, the half-hour NBC western starring Henry Fonda, "The Deputy"
1971:
Created the popular sitcom, "All in the Family" (CBS); also produced and wrote several episodes
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Education

Weaver High School: Hartford, Connecticut - 1940
Emerson College: Boston, Massachusetts - 1940

Notes

Lear was named Showman of the Year by the Publicist Guild in 1972 and 1977.

He was named Broadcaster of the Year by the International Radio and Television Society in 1973.

Lear received the 1976 Humanitarian Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews

Lear was inducted in to the Television Hall of Fame in 1984.

The "T.A.T." in T.A.T. Communications, Lear's company from 1974-82, comes from a Yiddish expression Tochis Affen Tisch, which idiomatically means "Put up or shut up," but literally means, "put your ass on the table".

"I had no insight into the world of television. But I was so delighted with the material because it was so fresh and good. I thought, 'Wow, this on TV!'" --Jean Stapleton on "All in the Family" quoted in Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1990.

Often said to have writer's block, Lear, instead, told the Los Angeles Times, December 2, 1990, "[I always have] a difficult time getting started on something fresh, which people really close to me, who love me say, 'Give yourself a break; it's the incubation period,' and I'm the one who beats on myself."

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Frances Lear. Publisher. Born c. 1923; married in December 1956; separated c. 1983; received $112 million divorce settlement from Lear; published LEAR'S magazine, ceased publication in 1994; died of breast cancer in September 1996.
wife:
Lyn Lear. Psychologist. Met in 1984; married in 1987; born c. 1947.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Herman Lear. Salesman.
mother:
Jeannette Lear.
daughter:
Ellen Lear. Sex therapist. Mother Lear's first; born c. 1947 wife.
daughter:
Kate B LaPook. Executive. Mother Frances Lear; born c. 1958; works at father's company ACT III Communications as head of development.
daughter:
Maggie B Lear. Mother, Frances Lear; born c. 1959.
son:
Benjamin Davis Lear. Mother Lyn Lear; born c. 1988.
daughter:
Madelaine Rose Lear. Born November 1994 to a surrogate mother; twin.
daughter:
Brianna Elizabeth Lear. Born November 1994 to a surrogate mother; twin.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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