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Norman Lear Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (14)  | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (3)

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Birth NameNorman Milton Lear
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Norman Lear is a World War II veteran, actor, writer, producer, director, and creator of such legendary sitcoms like All In The Family, Good Times, Sanford And Son, The Jeffersons, Maude, and many other sitcoms that defined and revolutionized American television.

Norman Milton Lear was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to Enie/Jeanette (Sokolovsky) and Hyman "Herman" Lear, a traveling salesman. His grandparents were all Russian Jewish immigrants. Jeanette was the inspiration for the character Edith Bunker, and Herman was the all-time inspiration to Norman creating the character Archie Bunker. Lear has often described his father as a "bigot" and someone who was into "get rich quick schemes." Norman was a victim of the depression and saw his family, as he has described it, go "belly-up". Norman was inspired by his press agent uncle Jack, who visited the family and always flipped Norman a quarter. Norman wanted to be the person who could flip someone a quarter.

Lear at this time never really thought of becoming a big Hollywood writer. He won a one year-scholarship to Emerson College in a national high-school writing contest, and went off there with all tuition paid by the government for one year. Norman figured he had struck a gold-mine, and during the depression this was the only way he could get into college. Norman attended Emerson College but dropped out when news struck that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. At that point, Norman has stated, all chaos broke lose, and along with many others he decided to enroll in the United States Army. He was nineteen. In the army, Norman was a radio operator. He was discharged in 1945.

Norman eventually landed a press agent job, paying forty dollars a week. Due to hard times, he was not being paid well and decided to pursue another career. In 1954, he was a writer for the CBS sitcom, Honestly, Celeste! This series was canceled after eight episodes. Lear then became the producer of NBC's The Martha Raye Show, after director Nat Hiken left the series. In 1959, Lear created his first television series, The Deputy, on the NBC network and starring Henry Fonda. Lear created this series alongside Roland Kibbee. The show ran for two successful seasons and ended in 1961.

Lear then started his comedic writing career in 1967. He wrote and produced the 1967 film, Divorce American Style, and directed the film, Cold Turkey, starring Dick Van Dyke. All In The Family came about when Norman read a British column on a show called "Til Death Do Us Part", about a father and a son-in-law who fought constantly about everything politically. As soon as he read that, he immediately knew it was just like him and his father's relationship. Lear tried to sell a "blue" collar sitcom to the ABC network, and two pilots were filmed and rejected. A third pilot was filmed, and CBS picked up the show. It premiered on January 12,1971 to disappointing ratings. Each pilot being shot by different entertainers than the original. Only Caroll O' Connor and Jean Stapleton remained as the original cast, as different people played the brother-in-law and daughter. Lear put Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner in the sitcom only after being accepted by CBS.

When it was aired on television for the first time, a big warning appeared on the screen stating none of the content being presented should be taken seriously and should only be seen for the purpose of hilarity. Norman stated that the sitcom became successful later on, because people knew Archie Bunker: to many people Archie Bunker was their own father. What came next for Norman was the successful sitcom Sanford And Son, along with creator Bud Yorkin, in 1972. This sitcom was inspired by British sitcom Steptoe and Son. Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson played the main roles. In All In The Family, a guest-star named Bea Arthur appeared in an episode and the first spin-off was formed from All In The Family called Maude in 1972, starring Arthur. Ratings soared through the roof, and much more quickly than All In The Family. A memorable episode from Maude which struck a degree of controversy was the abortion episode. A spin-off came from Maude called Good Times with the maid character played by Esther Rolle (Florida Evans). Good Times premiered in 1974, and dealt with controversial issues such as poverty, crime, and welfare, but most of all depicted life in a low-income housing area for African-Americans. It was created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans. This series featured entertainers John Amos, Ester Rolle, Bern Nadette Stanis, Jimmie Walker, Ralph Carter, Ja'net Dubois, and many others. It wasn't the only sitcom to depict life for African-Americans: what later followed in 1975 was The Jeffersons, another spin-off from All In The Family. Many people hadn't realized that African Americans could actually move away from the ghetto and become successful like George and Louise did. To many people across America it was seen as hilarious comedic genius; no other show ever called someone a "honky" or slammed doors in people's faces and still showed controversial issues to a large degree. In several episodes the show dealt with drugs, violence, and racism. The characters George and Louise Jefferson were created by Eric Monte.

All In The Family received multiple Emmy awards. Good Times ran for five successful season and ended in 1979, with multiple Golden Globe nominations. Maude ran for six seasons, ending in 1978 and receiving multiple Emmy and Golden Globe wins and nominations. Sanford and Son ended in 1977 with a Golden Globe win and several Emmy nominations. All In The Family ended its long run in 1979, with nine successful seasons. What came next for Norman was a spin-off of the show called Archie Bunker's Place, with Caroll O'Connor and Danielle Brisebois. The show was especially memorable as Edith Bunker was killed off, due to Jean Stapleton wanting to leave the show to pursue her acting career further. Norman stated that killing off Edith Bunker was one of the toughest decisions he had to make throughout his entertainment career. Archie Bunker's Place ended in 1983, and was his last successful television show.

Norman attempted to make a comeback in 1990 with several short-lived shows, including Sunday Dinner and 704 Hauser, which featured former co-star of Good Times, John Amos.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Peter Sean

Spouse (3)

Lyn Davis Lear (5 September 1987 - present) ( 3 children)
Frances Lear (7 December 1956 - 1986) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Charlotte Rosen (1943 - 1947) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (2)

Best known for his ground breaking situation comedies that featured families that regularly confronted major political and social issues of the day.
Ubiquitous boat hat

Trivia (14)

In 1959 Lear produced a pilot for a situation comedy called "Band of Gold" in which James Franciscus and Suzanne Pleshette played a different couple each week. The program was considered too "experimental" and was never broadcast.
Long a renowned supporter of liberal political causes, he changed his party registration to Republican in 1980 and endorsed John Anderson for President, after calling the administration of Jimmy Carter a "complete disaster."
Supposedly based Archie Bunker, at least in part, on his own father. The elder Lear was a salesman and, by all accounts, a vulgar, reactionary bigot who was constantly railing against women and minorities. He consistantly referred to Afro-Americans as "schwartzes," a Yiddish-American term with racially perjoritive connotations, and once called young Norman "the laziest white kid I ever knew."
In 1980, he founded a public interest group "People For The American Way" which is a liberal group.
Is a brother of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity based out of Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Acted as a consultant for Trey Parker and Matt Stone's South Park (1997) at the age of 80 years old. He assisted on South Park: Cancelled (2003) and came up with the idea of the giant talking taco. He also worked on the South Park: I'm a Little Bit Country (2003) episode.
He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1999 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.
Godfather to actress Katey Sagal.
A veteran of World War II who flew missions over Italy.
First cousin of David Susskind.
Was a mentor to Seth MacFarlane.
He once explained that the reason he is almost never seen without his hat, is because early in his career when he used to write for up to 18 hours a day, he'd scratch his head so much he developed a scab. His wife Frances was so bothered by this, she bought him the hat and Norman and his hat became inseparable thereafter.
2017 Kennedy Center Honors honoree. Other honored that year were Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J, Carmen De Lavallade, and Lionel Richie.

Personal Quotes (8)

Life is made up of small pleasures. Happiness is made up of these tiny successes. And big ones come too infrequently. And if you don' t collect all those tiny successes, the big ones don't really mean anything.
[ on being 90 years old] Suddenly I walk into a room, they're ready to applaud. I'm told how great I look all the time, and they don't mean beautiful. They mean, You're alive.
The best gift I've ever gotten, I've gotten every day of my life, and that's waking up. I love waking up. I'm a morning afternoon and evening person. There are two small words that are the most important words in the English language: 'over' and 'next'.
[on "joyful stress" while making shows] We had the joy of doing something we cared about; the joy of seeing it score and hearing people laugh.
I think I learned early that it's hard to be a human being. I don't care what the circumstances of one's birth, it's hard. If life hasn't made mischief for us, we'll make it for ourselves. But that's the game of life.
[on the significance of his hat] The significance is not the same as how it started. The significance is over time. It just became, "Where's your hat?" If I went somewhere without it, people would ask me, "Hey, wait a minute, where is the hat?" So it became significant.
There wasn't anything-whether dealing with menopause or the economy or bigotry or the language Archie used-it wasn't anything that wasn't familiar to us, as we lived. Nothing that you wouldn't hear in a schoolyard. It was the stuff of life we were living.
[When told he changed society] No, we reflected society. We didn't change it.

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