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Brilliant TV & Comedy Legend Passes Away

Norman Lear dead
Images Credit: Emmys/Ted Conference, Flickr

Norman Lear, the brilliant television and comedic legend, has passed away at the age of 101 per the latest reports.

It is a day of sad news from Disney Fanatic. The gifted mind behind some of American television’s most significant sitcoms—Sanford and Son and All in the Family—Norman Lear, has passed away. Variety confirmed that Lear’s publicist shared he died at his home in Los Angeles, Southern California of natural causes on Tuesday, December 5, 2023.

norman lear

Norman Lear / Credit: Ted Conference, Flickr

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Who is Norman Lear?

Norman Milton Lear was an American television producer who is behind some of the most iconic shows of all time, including All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time (which also enjoyed a Netflix reboot featuring Justina Machado), The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Maude. He’s worked with some big names like Bud Yorkin and even written for big ones like Martha Raye.

One of Lear’s shows was even the first ever American show to be filmed in front of a live studio audience.

He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to Jeanette (née Seicol) and Hyman “Herman” Lear, a traveling salesman—both were Jewish of Russian descent. Lear even went on to base characters in All in the Family off his parents: Archie Bunker (the character was a white Protestant on the show) was in part inspired by his father, and Edith Bunker was in part inspired by his mother.

Lear had a career that meandered its way to television. He first dropped out of Emerson College in Boston in 1942 to join the United States Air Force, where he was a radio operator and gunner on B-17 bombers in the European theater. He flew 52 missions. After World War II ended, he took up a career in Public Relations and moved to Los Angeles, Southern California.

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Inadvertently, Lear ended up taking to comedy writing with his cousin’s husband, and that’s when his career took off. The pair for their first major break while writing for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, for a run of 1952-53 appearances on The Colgate Comedy Hour.

Lear then teamed up with Bud Yorkin and became an in-demand scribe for the variety shows of Martha Raye, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and more.

It was All in the Family that then gave Lear his next jump. The sitcom was inspired by the long-running British series Till Death Do Us Part, and was originally picked up by ABC. However, the network dropped it due to its content, and it was then acquired by CBS. All in the Family was the first US sitcom to be filmed in front of a live studio audience.

 

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Variety also shared a statement from Lear’s family. In it, they thanked the late star: “Thank you for the moving outpouring of love and support in honor of our wonderful husband, father, and grandfather.” Lear’s family continued, “Norman lived a life of creativity, tenacity, and empathy. 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 was married three times in his life. His first wife was Charlotte Rosen, they married in 1943. Ellen Lear, their daughter, was born in 1947, and the couple divorced in 1956. Then was married to Frances Loeb (Frances Lear), publisher of Lear’s magazine, from 1956 to 1985. They separated in 1983. Kate Lear and Maggie Lear are their two daughters.

Finally, in 1987, he married Lyn Davis and had one son, Benjamin (or Ben) Lear was born in 1988, and Brianna Lear and Madelaine Lear are their twin daughters.

Lear is survived by his third wife, Lyn Davis, six children, and four grandchildren.

This post is originally appeared on Disney Fanatic.

About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

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