Norman Lear


Director, Producer

About

Also Known As
Norman Milton Lear
Birth Place
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Born
July 27, 1922

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 19...

Family & Companions

Frances Lear
Wife
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.
Lyn Lear
Wife
Psychologist. Met in 1984; married in 1987; born c. 1947.

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.

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 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).

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Cold Turkey (1971)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Ghettophysics (2010)
Himself
Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (2009)
Himself
Color Adjustment (1991)
Himself

Writer (Feature Film)

Cold Turkey (1971)
Screenplay story
Cold Turkey (1971)
Screenwriter
The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968)
Screenwriter
Divorce American Style (1967)
Screenwriter
Come Blow Your Horn (1963)
Screenwriter
Scared Stiff (1953)
Additional Dialogue

Producer (Feature Film)

El Superstar: The Unlikely Rise of Juan Frances (2010)
Executive Producer
Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (2007)
Executive Producer
Way Past Cool (2003)
Executive Producer
Dear Jesse (1997)
Producer
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
Executive Producer
The Princess Bride (1987)
Executive Producer
Heartsounds (1984)
Executive Producer
Cold Turkey (1971)
Producer
Start the Revolution Without Me (1970)
Executive Producer
The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968)
Producer
Divorce American Style (1967)
Producer
Never Too Late (1965)
Producer
Come Blow Your Horn (1963)
Producer

Production Companies (Feature Film)

The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968)
Company

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Color Adjustment (1991)
Other
Heavy Petting (1988)
Assistant

Director (Special)

I Love Liberty (1982)
Creator

Cast (Special)

Intimate Portrait: Linda Gray (2003)
Intimate Portrait: Isabel Sanford (2003)
Intimate Portrait: Bea Arthur (2003)
Everybody Loves Raymond: The First Six Years (2002)
Ben Stein's Brain (2001)
The 70s: The Decade That Changed Television (2000)
All in the Family: The E! True Hollywood Story (2000)
Intimate Portrait: Rue McClanahan (2000)
Norman Jewison on Comedy in the 20th Century: Funny Is Money (1999)
Intimate Portrait: Betty Friedan (1999)
CBS: The First 50 Years (1998)
Mackenzie Phillips: The E! True Hollywood Story (1998)
Intimate Portrait: Valerie Bertinelli (1998)
Gail Sheehy's New Passages (1996)
The Gospel According to Jesus (1995)
Laughing Matters (1993)
The 9th Annual Television Academy Hall of Fame (1993)
Performer
The Meaning of Life (1991)
Living in America (1991)
All in the Family 20th Anniversary Special (1991)
Fourth "R," The (1990)
Fifty Years of Television: A Golden Celebration (1989)
Hollywood's Favorite Heavy: Businessmen on Primetime TV (1987)
The 1st Annual American Comedy Awards (1987)
Performer
The Television Academy Hall of Fame (1987)
Performer
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's World of Comedy (1976)

Writer (Special)

P.O.P. (1984)
Writer
I Love Liberty (1982)
Writer
Henry Fonda and the Family (1962)
Writer

Producer (Special)

The Score (2002)
Coproducer
Independence Day 2001 (2001)
Segment Producer
All in the Family 20th Anniversary Special (1991)
Executive Producer
Exile (1986)
Funding
P.O.P. (1984)
Executive Producer
I Love Liberty (1982)
Executive Producer
A Dog's Life (1979)
Executive Producer
King of the Road (1978)
Executive Producer
Henry Fonda and the Family (1962)
Producer
Love Is a Lion's Roar (1961)
Producer

Special Thanks (Special)

P.O.P. (1984)
Writer
I Love Liberty (1982)
Writer
Henry Fonda and the Family (1962)
Writer

Life Events

1942

Served in the Air Force during WWII

1951

Joined the NBC show "Ford Star Review" as a staff writer

1953

First screenwriting credit, "Scared Stiff"

1955

Produced the NBC series, "The Martha Raye Show"; also wrote and directed several episodes

1959

Founded Tandem Productions with Bud Yorkin

1959

Created first series, the half-hour NBC western starring Henry Fonda, "The Deputy"

1961

First TV pilot as producer, "Band of Gold" (CBS)

1962

Produced "The Andy Williams Show" (NBC)

1963

Produced first film (with Yorkin), "Come Blow Your Horn"; also scripted

1967

Wrote and produced, "Divorce American Style"; earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay

1971

Feature directing debut "Cold Turkey" starred Dick Van Dyke

1971

Created the popular sitcom, "All in the Family" (CBS), also produced and wrote several episodes

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"

1974

Ended partnership with Yorkin and went on to form TAT Communications

1975

Executive produced the CBS sitcom, "One Day at a Time"

1975

Created "The Jeffersons" (CBS), another spin-off series from "All in the Family"

1976

Produced the soap opera parody, "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" (syndicated)

1976

Created the CBS series, "All's Fair"

1980

Co-created (with Alex Haley) and co-executive produced, "Palmerstown USA" (CBS)

1982

Produced the ABC variety special, "I Love Liberty"

1982

With partner Jerry Perenchio purchased Embassy Films; re-named company Embassy Communications

1984

Produced the short-lived ABC sitcom, "a.k.a. Pablo"

1984

Financed Rob Reiner's mockumentary, "This is Spinal Tap"

1986

Sold Embassy Communications to Columbia Pictures (then owned by the Coca-Cola Company), founded Act III Communications (with Tom McGrath)

1986

Financed Rob Reiner's second film, "Stand by Me"; produced by Lear's Act III Communications

1987

Produced Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride"

1991

Produced the film, "Fried Green Tomatoes"

1991

Returned to series TV as creator and executive producer of "Sunday Dinner" (CBS)

1992

Created and produced, "The Powers That Be" (NBC)

1994

Created and produced the short-lived CBS sitcom, "704 Hauser Street"

2001

Produced (with Rob Reiner) a filmed, dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia

2003

Voiced Benjamin Franklin in an episode of "South Park" (Comedy Central)

2007

Executive produced, "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song" about the folk artist

Videos

Movie Clip

Start The Revolution Without Me (1970) - How Many Pillows Did We Get? Director Bud Yorkin with a gag in which the text and narration was run twice, to the first scene for now grown-up switched-twin brothers, the peasant pair, Claude and Charles (Gene Wilder, Donald Sutherland), running afoul of their compromised French Revolution boss Jacques (Jack MacGowran), in Start The Revolution Without Me, 1970.
Divorce American Style (1967) - Stop At The Bank Barbara (Debbie Reynolds) is advised (by lawyer Shelley Berman) to grab the money as she and Richard (Dick Van Dyke) near divorce, leading to a musical-financial interlude in Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear's Divorce American Style, 1967.
Divorce American Style (1967) - The Sunday Father Divorcee Nelson Downes (Jason Robards Jr.) is lying in wait at the bowling alley, where Richard (Dick Van Dyke) has taken his sons (Tim Matheson, from Animal House, and Gary Goetzman, the noted producer) on their first post-separation date, in Divorce American Style, 1967.
Divorce American Style (1967) - Since When Do Men Grow Up? Lionel (Joe Flynn), buddy of not-yet divorced Richard (Dick Van Dyke), has been explaining the utility of prostitution, thus taking him to meet Lee Grant, as Dede, her complete performance here, in Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear's Divorce American Style, 1967.
Thief Who Came To Dinner, The (1973) - Well Then Pursue Him! Insurance investigator Reilly (Warren Oates) gets in touch with cocky jewel thief Webster (Ryan O’Neal) for a second time, for what passes as athletic activity in 1970’s Houston, in The Thief Who Came To Dinner, 1973, directed by Bud Yorkin, produced with his TV partner Norman Lear.
Thief Who Came To Dinner, The (1973) - How Come You Haven't Caught Him? Houston “Chess Burglar” Webster (Ryan O’Neal), staying with impoverished-heiress girlfriend Laura (Jacqueline Bisset), is not a bit worried that insurance detective Reilly (Warren Oates) has linked him to the latest job, even divulging one of his tactics, in The Thief Who Came To Dinner, 1973.
Thief Who Came To Dinner, The (1973) - Too Beautiful To Be Any Good Ryan O’Neal, as nerd-turned thief Webster, has burgled and blackmailed Houston big-shot Henderling (Charles Cioffi) into introducing him to rich friends, including unattached Laura (Jacqueline Bisset), with blaring 70’s tuxedos, in The Thief Who Came To Dinner, 1973, from TV’s Bud Yorkin.
Divorce American Style (1967) - Opening An L-A traffic montage, a conductor taking up a position in the Hollywood Hills, and Norman Lear's stinging marital dialogues set the stage for Divorce American Style, 1967.
Divorce American Style (1967) - French Bread Richard (Dick Van Dyke) and Barbara (Debbie Reynolds) segue from a spat into a dinner party in the opening scene from Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear's Divorce American Style, 1967.

Trailer

Family

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

Companions

Frances Lear
Wife
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.
Lyn Lear
Wife
Psychologist. Met in 1984; married in 1987; born c. 1947.

Bibliography

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."