Norman Lear was a transformational force in American culture, whose trailblazing shows redefined television with courage, conscience, and humor, opening our nation’s eyes and often our hearts.
The cast of characters he created painted a fuller picture of America – capturing our hopes and hardships, everyday moments of fear and resilience. From Archie Bunker and George Jefferson to the casts of “Good Times” and “One Day at a Time,” his characters became fixtures in tens of millions of American lives, often reminding us of family or neighbors. We loved them, disagreed with them, grew with them, rooted for them, and in the process, changed the way we see ourselves.
Norman left college for the Army during World War II, flying 52 missions in Europe, and he never forgot the lessons he learned there defending democracy and freedom. Arriving in Hollywood at the dawn of television, he helped to shape the birth of a medium that defined American culture, using it to advance our national conversation. Throughout his over-75-year career – which included more than 100 different shows and films, as well six Emmys, two Peabodys, a National Medal of Arts, and a Kennedy Center Honor – he never shied away from tough topics, taking on issues of racism, class, divorce, and abortion, capturing the grace and dignity in people’s lives. And during decades of political advocacy, he fought directly for free speech, a woman’s right to choose, the environment, voting rights, and more.
Norman loved America and told our stories with heart, facing the good, the bad, and the truth of who we are as a nation striving to form a more perfect union. He made generations of Americans care, and we are grateful.
Our love goes out to Norman’s wife, Lyn Davis Lear; his six children, Ellen, Kate, Maggie, Ben, Madeline, and Brianna Lear; and his four grandchildren.