Vale: Norman Lear
Legendary American producer best known for All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude and Diff’rent Strokes, has died.
Legendary American writer / producer Norman Lear, best known for All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude and Diff’rent Strokes, has died, aged 101.
His publicist confirmed he died at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes.
“Thank you for the moving outpouring of love and support in honor of our wonderful husband, father, and grandfather,” Lear’s family said in a statement. “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 is regarded as a titan of American comedy, with over 100 shows to his credit, including adapting Britain’s Til Death Us Do Part into the ground-breaking All in the Family starring Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner. The series led by a conservative, outspokenly bigoted working-class man ran for 9 seasons from 1971 – 1979 breaking all kinds of taboos: racism, abortion, homosexuality, the Vietnam war and even the attempted rape of Edith Bunker.
It won a slew of awards including Emmys, Golden Globes, with Archie and Edith Bunker’s chairs now in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
The show also led to 6 spin-offs including Maude, starring Bea Arthur, Good Times, Archie Bunker’s Place, and The Jeffersons which ran for 11 seasons centering around the Bunkers’ black former next-door neighbours George and Louise Jefferson.
Sanford and Son, based on a Britain’s Steptoe and Son ran for 6 seasons from 1972 – 1976 starring Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson.
Amongst his other hits were One Day at a Time, featuring a single mother of two young girls, Diff’rent Strokes, following the growing pains of two Black kids adopted by a wealthy white businessman, The Nancy Walker Show and the startling Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman which spoofed daytime soaps to rave reviews.
“Originally, with all the shows, we went looking for belly laughs. It crossed our minds early on that the more an audience cared – we were working before, on average, 240 live people – if you could get them caring, the more they cared, the harder they laughed,” he once said.
Feature film credits include Come Blow Your Horn, The Night They Raided Minsky’s, The Princess Bride, Stand By Me, Fried Green Tomatoes and Cold Turkey.
Lear, who was honoured with a place in the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame, a lifetime achievement award from the Producers Guild of America and multiple awards from the Writers Guild of America, was the recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 1999 and feted at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2017.
In 2019 and 2021, Live In Front of a Studio Audience restaged All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life.