CNN Editorial Research
Here’s a look at the life of award-winning television producer Norman Lear, the creator of some of television’s most popular shows of his time, including “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son” and “The Jeffersons.”
Birth date: July 27, 1922
Birth place: New Haven, Connecticut
Birth name: Norman Milton Lear
Father: Hyman “Herman” Lear, a securities broker/salesman
Mother: Jeanette (Seicol) Lear
Marriages: Lyn Davis (1987-present); Frances Loeb (1956-1986, divorced); Charlotte Rosen (1943-divorced)
Children: With Lyn Davis: Brianna, Madelaine and Benjamin; with Frances Loeb: Maggie and Kate; with Charlotte Rosen: Ellen
Education: Attended Emerson College
Military service: Served in the Army Air Corps, 1942-1945; Air Medal recipient
Has won six Primetime Emmy Awards out of 16 nominations, plus was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
His works are considered groundbreaking because he did not shy away from issues that were controversial at the time, including premarital sex, bigotry, abortion, misogyny and homosexuality.
Well-known to be a political activist. Lear has written that the character he created who most resembles him is “Maude,” who he said shares “my passion, my social concerns, and my politics.”
At one point, he had nine series running on television simultaneously.
“All in the Family” was the most popular comedy series on television after its first season and consistently shows up on polls listing the best shows of all time.
1945 – Is hired by George and Dorothy Ross as a publicist in New York City, making $40 a week.
1949 – Moves to California with his wife and daughter and works as a freelance comedy writer.
1950-1959 – Comedy writer for television.
1958 – Creates Tandem Productions with partner Alan “Bud” Yorkin.
1963 – “Come Blow Your Horn,” for which Lear wrote the screenplay, is released. It stars Frank Sinatra.
1967 – Writes and produces “Divorce American Style.” The script receives an Academy Award nomination.
January 12, 1971-1979 – “All in the Family” airs on CBS.
1971 – Produces and directs the movie “Cold Turkey,” which stars Dick Van Dyke.
1971 – “All in the Family” wins a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding New Series.
1971-1973 – Wins three consecutive Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series for “All in the Family.”
January 1972-1977 – “Sanford and Son” airs.
September 1972-1978 – “Maude” airs, the first spinoff from “All in the Family.”
1973 – Becomes president of American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
1974 – Founds the company T.A.T. Communications (Embassy Communications) with comedian Jerry Perenchio.
1974-1979 – “Good Times,” a spinoff from “Maude,” airs.
January 1975-1985 – “The Jeffersons,” another “All in the Family” spinoff, airs.
1975-1984 – Executive producer of “One Day at a Time.”
1977 – Receives a Personal Peabody Award for creating “All in the Family,” a “comedy with social conscience.”
July 16, 1975 – Receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1979-1983 – “Archie Bunker’s Place,” a spinoff of “All in the Family,” airs.
1981 – Founds People for the American Way, with Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and others. The organization’s goals include “reducing social tension and polarizations, encouraging community participation, fostering understanding among different segments of our society, and increasing the level and quality of public dialogue.”
1982-1983 – “Gloria,” a spinoff of “All in the Family,” airs.
1984 – Is inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
1985 – He and partner Jerry Perenchio sell Embassy Communications to the Coca-Cola Company for $485 million in cash and Coca-Cola stock. Founds Act III Productions from the proceeds of the sale.
1989 – Founds the Business Enterprise Trust. Its purpose is to “explore specific acts of bold, creative leadership that combine(d) sound business management with social conscience.” Warren Buffett serves on the board of directors.
September 29, 1999 – Receives the National Medal of the Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts from President Bill Clinton.
January 2000 – The Norman Lear Center at the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California opens.
June 2000 – Buys a signed copy of the Declaration of Independence, and in the following years travels with it to all 50 states on a self-declared “Declaration of Independence Road Trip,” including stops at the 2001 Super Bowl and the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. The aim is to bring the document directly to the people and spark civic activism.
2003 – Is the voice of Benjamin Franklin on South Park’s “I’m a Little Bit Country” episode.
October 2014 – His memoir, “Even This I Get to Experience,” is published.
2016 – “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You,” a biopic of Lear’s life and work, is released.
May 22, 2019 – Helps Jimmy Kimmel introduce ABC’s “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons,” a special recreating two of Lear’s most popular shows, with the classic characters played by current stars.
September 2019 – Wins a Primetime Emmy Award as one of the executive producers of “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in The Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons.'”
2020 – At 98, becomes the oldest nominee and winner of an Emmy Award after he wins the award as one of the executive producers of “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in The Family’ and ‘Good Times.'”
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