Lear, Norman

Lear, Norman,

1922–, American television and film producer, director, and writer, b. New Haven, Conn. He wrote for comedians and television shows during the 1950s, and subsequently wrote and directed such films as Come Blow Your Horn (1963) and Cold Turkey (1971). Returning to television, he created, produced, and wrote All in the Family (1972–79), a show that revolutionized situation comedies with its main character, the bigoted but lovable Archie Bunker, and with story lines that tackled a variety of controversial subjects. The show topped the ratings for five years, won Lear four Emmys, and generated two spin-offs, the similarly controversial Maude (1972–78) and The Jeffersons (1975–85). He also produced other television shows, such as the comedy Sanford and Son (1972–77) and the soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976–77), and later produced several films, e.g., Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and a documentary on Pete SeegerSeeger, Pete
(Peter Seeger), 1919–2014, American folksinger, composer, and environmentalist, b. New York City. Seeger, a son of musicologist Charles Seeger and violinist Constance Edson Seeger, stepson of composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, and nephew of poet Alan Seeger, left
..... Click the link for more information.
 (2007). A political progressive, Lear was (1981) a founder of the liberal organization People for the American Way.


See his memoir Even This I Get to Experience (2014); S. Campbell, The Sitcoms of Norman Lear (2006).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

Lear, Norman (Milton)

(1922–  ) television producer; born in New Haven, Conn. After spending only one year at Emerson College in Boston, he launched a television writing career in 1950 on The Ford Star Review. In 1959 he formed Tandem Productions with Bud Yorkin, producing a series of successful movies as well as popular television shows. All in the Family, which was derived from a British television program but drew on memories of his father, was televised from 1971 to 1983; it focused on a bigoted blue-collar worker named Archie Bunker; his wife Edith, whom he called "dingbat"; his daughter Gloria; and his liberal son-in-law, Mike Stivic. It was a multiple Emmy winner and the most popular sitcom of its time. Other of his television hits include Sanford and Son, Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons. His syndicated soap opera satire Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976–77) developed a cult following. He broke new television ground by introducing substantive issues, controversy, and strong language to sitcoms. An outspoken liberal, he dedicated some of his immense earnings to founding People for the American Way (1981), a group that sponsors mailings, advertisements, and other outlets to combat what it regards as threats from the extreme Right.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.