February 21, 2024

Photograph: Norman Lear (AP Photograph/Chris Pizzello, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Norman Lear, the author, director and producer who revolutionized prime time tv with “All within the Household” and “Maude,” propelling political and social turmoil into the once-insulated world of sitcoms, has died. He was 101.

Lear died Tuesday night time in his sleep, surrounded by household at his house in Los Angeles, mentioned Lara Bergthold, a spokesperson for his household.

A liberal activist, Lear original daring and controversial comedies that have been embraced by viewers who needed to watch the night information to search out out what was occurring on the planet. His reveals helped outline prime time comedy within the Seventies, launched the careers of Rob Reiner and Valerie Bertinelli and made middle-aged superstars of Carroll O’Connor, Bea Arthur and Redd Foxx.

“I beloved Norman Lear with all my coronary heart. He was my second father. Sending my like to Lyn and the entire Lear household,” Reiner wrote on X, fomerly Twitter.

“All within the Household” was immersed within the headlines of the day, whereas additionally drawing upon Lear’s childhood recollections of his tempestuous father. Racism, feminism, and the Vietnam Warfare have been flashpoints as blue collar conservative Archie Bunker, performed by O’Connor, clashed with liberal son-in-law Mike Stivic (Reiner). Jean Stapleton co-starred as Archie’s befuddled however good-hearted spouse, Edith, and Sally Struthers performed the Bunkers’ daughter, Gloria, who defended her husband in arguments with Archie.

Lear’s work remodeled tv at a time when old style applications as “Right here’s Lucy,” “Ironside” and “Gunsmoke” nonetheless dominated. CBS, Lear’s main community, would quickly enact its “rural purge” and cancel such standbys as “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Inexperienced Acres.” The groundbreaking sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Present,” a few single profession lady in Minneapolis, debuted on CBS in Sept. 1970, simply months earlier than “All within the Household” began.

However ABC handed on “All within the Household” twice and CBS was initially reluctant to tackle the daring sequence, Lear would say. When the community lastly aired “All within the Household,” it started with a disclaimer: “This system you might be about to see is ‘All within the Household.’ It seeks to throw a humorous highlight on our frailties, prejudices, and issues. By making them a supply of laughter we hope to point out, in a mature trend, simply how absurd they’re.”

By the top of 1971, “All Within the Household” was No. 1 within the rankings and Archie Bunker was a popular culture fixture, with President Richard Nixon amongst his followers. A few of his putdowns turned catchphrases. He known as his son-in-law “Meathead” and his spouse “Dingbat,” and would additionally snap at anybody who dared occupy his light orange-yellow wing chair. It was the centerpiece of the Bunkers rowhouse within the New York Metropolis borough of Queens and finally an artifact within the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Museum of American Historical past.

Even the present’s opening phase was progressive: As an alternative of an off-screen theme track, Archie and Edith are seated on the piano of their front room, belting out a nostalgic quantity, “These Had been the Days,” with Edith screeching off-key and Archie crooning such strains “Didn’t want no welfare state” and “Women have been women and males have been males.”

“All within the Household,” based mostly on the British sitcom, “Til Dying Us Do Half,” was the No. 1-rated sequence for an unprecedented 5 years in a row and earned 4 Emmy Awards as greatest comedy sequence, lastly eclipsed by five-time winner “Frasier” in 1998.

Hits continued for Lear and then-partner Bud Yorkin, together with “Maude” and “The Jeffersons,” each spinoffs from “All within the Household” and each the identical profitable mixture of one-liners and social battle. In a 1972 two-part episode of “Maude,” the title character (performed by Arthur) turned the primary on tv to have an abortion, drawing a surge of protests together with the present’s excessive rankings. Nixon himself objected to an “All within the Household” episode a few shut pal of Archie’s who seems to be homosexual, privately fuming to White Home aides that the present “glorified” same-sex relationships.

“Controversy suggests persons are enthusiastic about one thing. However there’d higher be laughing firstly or it’s a canine,” Lear mentioned in a 1994 interview with The Related Press.

“I began to say, This isn’t my America. You don’t combine politics and faith this manner,” Lear mentioned in a 1992 interview with Commonweal journal.

The nonprofit’s president, Svante Myrick, mentioned “we’re heartbroken” by Lear’s demise. “We lengthen our deepest sympathies to Norman’s spouse Lyn and their whole household, and to the many individuals who, like us, beloved Norman.”

With this wry smile and impish boat hat, the youthful Lear created tv nicely into his 90s, rebooting “One Day at a Time” for Netflix in 2017 and exploring revenue inequality for the documentary sequence “America Divided” in 2016. Documentarians featured him in 2016’s “Norman Lear: Simply One other Model of You,” and 2017’s “If You’re Not within the Obit, Eat Breakfast,” a have a look at energetic nonagenarians equivalent to Lear and Rob Reiner’s father, Carl Reiner.

In 1984, he was lauded because the “progressive author who introduced realism to tv” when he turned one of many first seven individuals inducted into the Nationwide Academy of Tv Arts and Sciences’ Corridor of Fame. He later acquired a Nationwide Medal of Arts and was honored on the Kennedy Middle. In 2020, he gained an Emmy as government producer of “Reside In Entrance of a Studio Viewers: ‘All Within the Household’ and ‘Good Occasions’.’”

Lear beat the powerful TV odds to an astounding diploma: At the very least certainly one of his reveals positioned in prime-time’s prime 10 for 11 consecutive years (1971-82). However Lear had flops as nicely.

Reveals together with “Sizzling L Baltimore,” “Palmerstown” and “a.ok.a. Pablo,” a uncommon Hispanic sequence, drew essential favor however couldn’t discover an viewers; others, equivalent to “All That Glitters” and “The Nancy Walker Present,” earned neither. He additionally confronted resistance from solid members, together with “Good Occasions” stars John Amos and Esther Rolle, who typically objected to the scripts as racially insensitive, and endured a mid-season walkout by Foxx, who missed eight episodes in 1973-74 due to a contract dispute.

Within the Nineties, the comedy “704 Hauser,” which returned to the Bunker home with a brand new household, and the political satire “The Powers that Be” have been each short-lived.

Lear’s enterprise strikes, in the meantime, have been virtually constantly fruitful.

Lear began T.A.T. Communications in 1974 to be “sole artistic captain of his ship,” his former enterprise companion Jerry Perenchio advised the Los Angeles Occasions in 1990. The corporate turned a serious TV producer with reveals together with “One Day at a Time” and the soap-opera spoof “Mary Hartman Mary Hartman,” which Lear distributed himself after it was rejected by the networks.

In 1982, Lear and Perenchio purchased Avco-Embassy Photos and fashioned Embassy Communications as T.A.T.’s successor, changing into efficiently concerned in motion pictures, house video, pay TV and cable possession. In 1985, Lear and Perenchio bought Embassy to Coca-Cola for $485 million. That they had bought their cable holdings the 12 months earlier than, reportedly for a hefty revenue.

By 1986, Lear was on Forbes journal’s checklist of the 400 richest individuals in America, with an estimated web price of $225 million. He didn’t make the reduce the subsequent 12 months after a $112 million divorce settlement for his second spouse, Frances. That they had been married 29 years and had two daughters.

He married his third spouse, psychologist Lyn Davis, in 1987 and the couple had three youngsters. (Frances Lear, who went on to discovered the now-defunct Lear’s journal together with her settlement, died in 1996 at age 73.)


was born in New Haven, Conn. on July 27, 1922, to Herman Lear, a securities dealer who served time in jail for promoting faux bonds, and Jeanette, a homemaker who helped encourage Edith Bunker. Norman Lear would keep in mind household life as a form of sitcom, filled with quirks and grudges, “a gaggle of individuals residing on the ends of their nerves and the tops of their lungs,” he defined throughout a 2004 look on the John F. Kennedy Presidential LIbrary in Boston.

His political activism had deep roots. In a 1984 interview with The New York Occasions, Lear recalled how, at age 10, he would mail letters for his Russian immigrant grandfather, Shia Seicol, which started “My dearest darling Mr. President,” to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Generally a reply got here.

“That my grandfather mattered made me really feel each citizen mattered,” mentioned Lear, who at 15 was sending his personal messages to Congress by way of Western Union.

He dropped out of Emerson School 1942 to enlist within the Air Drive, was awarded a Embellished Air Medal, after which labored in public relations.

Lear started writing within the early Nineteen Fifties on reveals together with “The Colgate Comedy Hour” and dealing for such comedians as Martha Raye and George Gobel. In 1959, he and Yorkin based Tandem Productions, which produced movies together with “Come Blow Your Horn,” “Begin the Revolution With out Me” and “Divorce American Fashion.” Lear additionally directed the 1971 satire “Chilly Turkey,” starring Dick Van Dyke a few small city that takes on a tobacco firm’s supply of $25 million to give up smoking for 30 days.

In his later years, Lear joined with Warren Buffett and James E. Burke to determine The Enterprise Enterprise Belief, honoring companies that take a long-term view of their impact on the nation. He additionally based the Norman Lear Middle on the College of Southern California’s Annenberg Faculty for Communication, exploring leisure, commerce and society. In 2014, he printed the memoir “Even This I Get to Expertise.”