Obituary | Norman Lear: acclaimed US screenwriter and social campaigner - 1922 - 2023

Jennifer Anniston paid tribute to US screenwriter Normal Lear on her Instagram profile - a look into the life of the late prolific television visionary
Normal Lear - 1922 - 2023 (Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)Normal Lear - 1922 - 2023 (Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Normal Lear - 1922 - 2023 (Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Norman Milton Lear, a pioneering American screenwriter and producer, passed away on December 5, 2023, at the age of 101. Born on July 27, 1922, in New Haven, Connecticut, Lear's impact on the entertainment industry was profound. With a career spanning over seven decades, he leaves behind an enduring legacy both on screen and through his social causes.

Lear was a creative force behind more than 100 US television shows, showcasing his versatile talent as a producer, writer, creator, and developer. He revolutionized the television landscape by introducing political and social themes to sitcoms, reshaping the way American families were portrayed on screen. His contributions include the creation and production of iconic 1970s sitcoms such as "All in the Family," "Maude," "Sanford and Son," "One Day at a Time," "The Jeffersons," and "Good Times." Lear's shows not only entertained but also challenged societal norms, addressing pressing issues of the time.

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Throughout his illustrious career, Lear garnered numerous awards, including six Primetime Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and the prestigious National Medal of Arts in 1999. In 2017, he received the Kennedy Center Honors and the Golden Globe Carol Burnett Award in 2021, further solidifying his impact on the entertainment industry. Lear's induction into the Television Academy Hall of Fame attested to his enduring influence.

Beyond the realm of entertainment, Lear was a staunch political activist, advocating for liberal and progressive causes. In 1980, he founded People for the American Way, an advocacy organization aimed at countering the influence of the Christian right in politics.

Lear's early life experiences, including his father's incarceration when he was nine and encounters with antisemitism, profoundly influenced his advocacy work. His commitment to social justice extended to his involvement in the Business Enterprise Trust and his support for Daniel Ellsberg during the Pentagon Papers case.

Norman Lear's impact extended well beyond television. His memoir, "Even This I Get to Experience," published in 2014, provided insights into his extraordinary life. In 2016, the documentary "Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You" offered a glimpse into his influential career.

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In his later years, Lear continued to contribute to the entertainment industry, serving as an executive producer for the reboot of "One Day at a Time" and overseeing multiple shows in development, including a planned reboot of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."

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