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Joy Saha

TV legend Norman Lear dies at 101

Norman Lear, the acclaimed writer and producer best known for his seminal sitcoms that meshed hot-button social issues with comedy — including "All in the Family," one of the most popular and infuential shows in TV history — has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 101.

“Norman lived a life in awe of the world around him. He marveled at his cup of coffee every morning, the shape of the tree outside his window, and the sounds of beautiful music,” Lear’s family wrote in a statement on his official Instagram account. “But it was people — those he just met and those he knew for decades — who kept his mind and heart forever young. As we celebrate his legacy and reflect on the next chapter of life without him, we would like to thank everyone for all the love and support.”

The six-time Emmy winner shepherded an impressive prime-time comedy lineup in the 1970s, which attracted millions of viewers in the pre-cable, pre-streaming era, partly by mocking or addressing the turbulent politics of that era. Lear's shows included “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “Sanford and Son,” “The Jeffersons,” “One Day at a Time” (along with its 2017 remake) and “Good Times” (along with its Netflix reboot). In 1967, Lear was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the comedy satire film “Divorce American Style.” He later secured two Peabody Awards, the National Medal of Arts in 1999, the Kennedy Center Honors in 2017, and the Golden Globe Carol Burnett Award in 2021. Lear was also a member of the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

In addition to his prolific career in entertainment, Lear, a prominent Hollywood liberal, was known for outspoken political activism. In 1981, he co-founded the advocacy organization People for the American Way, aimed at combating the growing influence of the religious right in society and media. Twenty years later, Lear purchased an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and took it on tour around the country for a decade.

In a 2014 interview with NPR, Lear spoke more about his politics, explaining that his liberal views were close to those of Maude Findlay, the eponymous character played by Bea Arthur in Lear's 1972-78 sitcom:   

“She was a — you know, an out-and-out liberal as I am. No apologies in any direction,” he said. “And the kind of liberal I am in the sense that I am not well schooled in the political reasons for my being a liberal.”

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