Norman Lear, TV Legend, Dead at 101 |

Norman Lear, TV Legend, Dead at 101

Famed television producer Norman Lear, whose wildly successful TV sitcoms including “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” fused comedy with trenchant social commentary and dominated network ratings in the 1970s, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced on his website.

via: Variety

Lear’s publicist confirmed to Variety that he died at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes. A private service for immediate family will be held in the coming days.

“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 had already established himself as a top comedy writer and captured a 1968 Oscar nomination for his screenplay for “Divorce American Style” when he concocted the idea for a new sitcom, based on a popular British show, about a conservative, outspokenly bigoted working-class man and his fractious Queens family. “All in the Family” became an immediate hit, seemingly with viewers of all political persuasions.

Lear’s shows were the first to address the serious political, cultural and social flashpoints of the day – racism, abortion, homosexuality, the Vietnam war — by working pointed new wrinkles into the standard domestic comedy formula. No subject was taboo: Two 1977 episodes of “All in the Family” revolved around the attempted rape of lead character Archie Bunker’s wife Edith.

Their fresh outrageousness turned them into huge ratings successes: For a time, “Family” and “Sanford,” based around a Los Angeles Black family, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country. “All in the Family” itself accounted for no less than six spin-offs. “Family” was also honored with four Emmys in 1971-73 and a 1977 Peabody Award for Lear, “for giving us comedy with a social conscience.” (He received a second Peabody in 2016 for his career achievements.)

Some of Lear’s other creations played with TV conventions. “One Day at a Time” (1975-84) featured a single mother of two young girls as its protagonist, a new concept for a sitcom. Similarly, “Diff’rent Strokes” (1978-86) followed the growing pains of two Black kids adopted by a wealthy white businessman.

Lear always maintained that the basic formula for his comedies always boiled down to the essential: Keep ‘em laughing.

He was 101.

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