#RespectYourElders: Norman Lear (born 1922) is a critically acclaimed television comedy writer and producer, most commonly known for his work on “The Jeffersons,” “Good Times” and introducing the world to the famous Archie Bunker on “All in the Family.” Lear is known for being one of the first television producers to spotlight current social and political issues on his shows, something that was not commonplace in the 1970s.
Prior to his career in television, Lear served in World War II, earning the Air Medal from the United States Army Air Forces for his service. After the war, Lear worked in public relations. All of these life experiences would later inform his television shows.
Lear went on to write for a variety show, “The Ford Star Revue,” which put him and his partner Ed Simmons on the map in the comedy world after fellow comedian Jerry Lewis took notice. After bouncing around from the “Colgate Comedy Hour”and “The Martha Raye Show,” Lear started Tandem Productions, where he earned an Academy Award Nomination for his writing on “Divorce American Style.” His work on “All in the Family” eventually earned 4 Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award in 1977.
Lear then took a break from entertainment and formed People For the American Way, which describes itself as “a non-profit organization designed to speak out for Bill of Rights guarantees and to monitor violations of constitutional freedoms.” He additionally founded the Business Enterprise Trust, Norman Lear Center, Environmental Media Association and later received the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton in 1999.
All of this fame was highly unexpected for Lear. He said, “All I wanted was to grow up to be a guy who could flip a quarter to a nephew.”
To hear more from Norman Lear himself, take a look at his recent feature on NPR here.