101 Trivia Tidbits About Norman Lear on His 101st Birthday

101 Trivia Tidbits About Norman Lear on His 101st Birthday

Few people, if anyone, have had as much identifiable influence on television history as Norman Lear. The creator of shows like All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Sanford and Son and enough others to tire your thumb just scrolling down his IMDb page turns 101 today, and to celebrate a truly unparalleled career in television, we’ve gathered a treasure trove of facts about this singular talent. 

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From his forgotten first TV show to his clashes with the star of All in the Family to his numerous awards, here are 101 tidbits about the king of sitcoms, Norman Lear...

His Dad Went to Jail

His father went to prison for three years for selling fake bonds beginning when Lear was nine. During that time, Lear was sent to live with his grandparents, separated from his mom and younger sister. He shared that it was a very lonely period in his life.

Archie Bunker Was Based on His Dad

The patriarch from All in the Family was modeled after his father. Not only would he tell his wife, Norman’s mother, to “Stifle yourself!” just like Archie did to Edith, but he also had the tendency to call people “Meathead.” 

‘The Foolishness of the Human Condition’

When his father was arrested, the Lear household was full of visitors, and one of them said to nine-year-old Norman, “You’re the man of the house now.” In an interview with PBS, Lear recalled that moment and said, “What a fool that person was. But somehow, I got it. You know, a sense of the foolishness of the human condition.” Lear also said that “the foolishness of the human condition” was the philosophy behind many of his shows.

’Sink or Swim’ Was a Formative Text for Him

Lear read the Horatio Alger book Sink or Swim when going through some childhood difficulties. He later cited the book as an inspiration, saying, “That was my option: sink or swim. I was going to swim. I wasn’t going to sink.”

He Attended Emerson College — Until Pearl Harbor/

Lear graduated high school in 1940 and won an American Legion oratory scholarship to attend Emerson College for theater. He left the college in 1942, shortly after Pearl Harbor, and joined the Air Force.

He’s a Veteran of World War II

Lear served in World War II as a gunner and radio operator. He flew 52 combat missions and was awarded the Air Medal. He was discharged in 1945.

He Enlisted Because of Anti-Semitism

Lear, who is Jewish, recalled in 2022 a memory from his childhood: “Alone in bed one night, my father away, I was playing with a crystal set radio and came across the vicious anti-Semitic voice of Father Coughlin railing against American Jews. I’m confident that that horrifying moment resulted in my early enlistment in WWII and the 52 combat missions over Germany that followed.”

He Originally Wanted to Be a Press Agent

In a 2009 interview, Lear said, “My dad had a brother, Jack, who flipped me a quarter every time he saw me. He was a press agent, so I wanted to be a press agent. That’s the only role model I had. So all I wanted was to grow up to be a guy who could flip a quarter to a nephew.”

He Sold His First Piece in 20 Minutes

Lear and Simmons wrote an act to be performed in a club and immediately went out to a club to try and sell it to a performer. It sold within 20 minutes, and the duo began writing together regularly afterward.

Lear Used a Fake Name

Early on, Lear would call himself “Merle Robinson” when pretending to be his own secretary on the phone.

Danny Thomas Came Next

Lear and Simmons’ first big break came from writing a five-minute piece for actor, singer and comedian Danny Thomas. When an agent inquired as to the writer of the piece, Thomas gave them Lear’s information. From that, Lear and Simmons were offered to write for The Ford Star Revue, a variety program.

Jerry Lewis Liked Their Work

“The very first show (of The Ford Star Revue), we wrote a sketch called ‘Blind Date,’ and Jerry Lewis saw the show,” Lear recalled. From there, Lewis tracked down who wrote the sketch and hired Lear and Simmons to write for him and Dean Martin for The Colgate Comedy Hour

Like Everyone Else, Lear found Jerry Lewis Difficult to Work With

“Eddie and I had had it with Jerry after three years,” Lear said.

Other Early TV Credits

Between The Colgate Comedy Hour from 1950 to 1953 and developing All in the Family in 1971, Lear wrote for a wide variety of series, including The Martha Raye Show, The George Gobel Show, The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show and several TV specials.

He’s Also Written Movies

Before All in the Family, Lear also had a hand in writing a few films, including The Night They Raided Minsky’s and Come Blow Your Horn

He Also Directed a Film with Van Dyke

In 1971, Lear re-teamed with Van Dyke to direct his only feature film, Cold Turkey.

Tandem Productions Was Founded in 1959

In 1958, Lear joined forces with producer Bud Yorkin to create Tandem Productions, which created a number of Lear’s early shows.

Then Came T.A.T. Communications

Lear’s partnership with Yorkin ended in 1974. He then founded T.A.T. Communications with Jerry Perenchio. T.A.T. stood for the Yiddish phrase “Tuchus Affen Tisch,” which means “Putting one’s ass on the line.”

His First Show Was a Western

In 1961, Lear co-created The Deputy, starring Henry Fonda, which lasted for two seasons and a total of 76 episodes. 

Lear Said ‘The Deputy’s Co-Creator Left a Huge Impression on Him

In a 2020 interview, Lear said of The Deputy, “Writing with another fellow on that show named Roland Kibbee. He was the senior guy because I was still a kid writer. If I had to pick out the person that mattered most to me in my career, in terms of helping me understand what it was all about, it would be Roland Kibbee. He was like a father. He endorsed me for who I was and helped me to understand that the direction that I was on was okay, that I didn’t have to become anybody different.”

‘All in the Family’ Was Adapted from a British Show

In addition to being autobiographical — again, with Archie Bunker being inspired by Lear’s father and Edith Bunker being inspired by his mother — All in the Family was based on the British television series Till Death Us Do Part

Lear Originally Wanted Mickey Rooney for Archie Bunker

Mickey Rooney was the original choice for Archie Bunker, but he turned it down.

Lear Had to Fight CBS for Many of ‘All in the Family’s Edgy Topics

Among the many fights Lear had with CBS over All in the Family’s content, he had to argue for doing episodes highlighting race relations, politics, menopause, breast cancer and impotence.

CBS Expected a Huge Backlash to the ‘All in the Family’ Debut

According to Time, “CBS (was) so worried about viewers’ responses to Archie that they manned their phone lines with additional operators to field the expected barrage of angry callers. Few calls came, though.”

There Were Three ‘First Episodes’

The first episode of All in the Family was actually the third attempt at a pilot for the show. Originally the series was with ABC, and while Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton played the parts of Archie and Edith, two other actors played Gloria (Archie and Edith’s daughter) and Gloria’s boyfriend. ABC was unsure about the initial pilot entitled Justice for All, so they recast the younger characters, renamed the show Those Were The Days, and filmed the same script. ABC again turned it down. Finally, Lear went to CBS with All in the Family, where Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner were finally cast.

‘All in the Family’s Emmy Wins

For the first season of All in the Family, Jean Stapleton won an Emmy for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series. The show also won for “Outstanding New Series” and “Outstanding Series — Comedy.” Overall the show would win 22 Emmys, including four for O’Conner, three for Stapleton and two each for Struthers and Reiner. Lear would take home four Emmys for his work on All in the Family.

Some Thought Archie Bunker Was Too Lovable

At times, All in the Family was chided for making Archie Bunker too sympathetic. Author Laura Z. Hobson wrote in the New York Times of Archie, “I don’t think you can be a Black-baiter and lovable, or an anti-Semite and lovable.” To this, Lear replied, “In what vacuum did you grow up? Not a father, brother, uncle, aunt, friend or neighbor who was both lovable and bigoted?”

Archie’s Fights with Meathead Were Meant to Get People Talking

Reiner once said that Lear’s “vision was to get people thinking and talking about the issues of the day. And by using those two characters, Archie and Mike going at each other, it would foster a lot of conversation around the country, which it did.”

But Lear Wasn’t Looking to Offend

In 2014, Lear said he wasn’t specifically looking to push the envelope. Instead, “We were scraping the barrel of our own experience,” meaning that he was depicting the world as it really was, which hadn’t been done on television before.

Lear and O’Connor Butted Heads

Despite the success of All in the Family, Lear found O’Connor difficult to work with. In his memoir Even This I Get to Experience, Lear wrote, “For the next eight years, Carroll would continue to dislike every script at the start. It was nothing but fear, and blind anger was his only defense. Certainly, he bettered many a scene with it, but it needn’t have taken his belligerence to get there.”

Lear Always Saw His Characters as ‘Real’

On the set of All in the Family, Stapleton once said of Edith Bunker, “She’s only fiction,” to which Lear replied, “To me, she isn’t.” Years later, Lear explained, “When I was writing my characters, they were real. When I was working with Jean Stapleton to fashion what Edith Bunker would say, Edith Bunker and Jean Stapleton were separate people. We were working on a character, but that character was her own person. We believed for the time we were working on her, she existed. For example, when Edith Bunker did her little hip-hop coming out of the kitchen, that wasn’t Jean Stapleton. That was a real, separate person named Edith, and I felt that way about all the characters.”

Sammy Davis Jr. Pressured Lear to Appear on ‘All in the Family’

“Sammy was a great fan of the show, and he hounded me,” Lear recalled. “He just had to do the show; he just loved the show. And I said to him, ‘We don’t do guest stars.” Eventually, the story was worked out that Sammy Davis Jr. was a passenger in Archie’s cab and had left his briefcase behind. “Once we had a good reason why he would be in the show, I was comfortable with it,” said Lear. 

The Kiss Was Sammy’s Idea

Writer Bill Dana was responsible for the episode “Sammy’s Visit,” but Lear credited Davis with several ideas — including the kiss he planted on Archie Bunker’s cheek, which is widely considered one of the most memorable moments in TV history.

Lear Was on Nixon’s Enemies List

All in the Family landed Lear on Nixon’s enemies list. In a 2016 interview, Lear explained, “(Nixon)’s on tape — you know, I think we used the tape in the American Masters documentary — where he’s talking about, with Haldeman in his office — he’s talking about ‘that show that makes fun of a good man.’ Those were his words, and he was talking about Archie Bunker, though he didn’t remember the name/character. And he was talking about (how) we were lauding homosexuality.”

‘All in the Family’ had Several Spinoffs

All in the Family was so popular that it had five direct spin-offs and two spin-offs of its spin-offs. The three successful direct spin-offs — lasting more than one season — were Maude, The Jeffersons and Archie Bunker’s Place. The two unsuccessful ones were Gloria and 704 Hauser. In addition to that, Good Times spun off from Maude, and Checking In was a spin-off of The Jeffersons.

‘Archie Bunker’s Place’

Lear, Reiner and Stapleton were content to end All in the Family with Season Nine while the show was still a hit. However, O’Connor and CBS wanted more; thus, they created Archie Bunker’s Place, where Archie ran a bar. Stapleton appeared as Edith a few times before being killed off (as per her request). The show lasted four seasons before being canceled. 

Lear Opposed ‘Archie Bunker’s Place’


In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lear said of Archie Bunker’s Place, “(O’Connor) went on to do Archie Bunker’s Place — I didn’t want that to happen, and I prevented it from happening for some months. My partners and the network, of course, wanted it. The only time I met Mr. (William) Paley, who owned the network, was when he called to ask me to lunch, nine years later, to talk about wanting Archie Bunker’s Place on air. The only way it got on was when (he) called me to his office and had four or five pages of names of people who would be out of work if the show didn’t go on. And so the show went on.”


Gloria, which ran from 1982 until 1983, centered around Struthers’ character putting her life back together after being left by Reiner’s Mike Stivic. Unlike every other one of All in the Family’s spin-offs, Lear had no involvement.

Bea Arthur’s Maude Findlay was Designed to ‘Kill Archie’

“After eight or ten shows (of All in the Family), it was time to have somebody on the show that would kill Archie, verbally — could destroy him,” Lear has explained. He wanted someone who could reach into Archie’s history, so he created Maude as Edith’s liberal cousin who didn’t want her to marry Archie. Having known Bea Arthur for years, Lear knew she’d be perfect for the part.


The series Maude starred Arthur as an outspoken, liberal-minded middle-aged woman who lived with her fourth husband. It lasted six seasons, from 1972 until 1978, with Arthur winning an Emmy for the role.

‘Maude’s Most Controversial Episode

The most famous storyline on Maude dealt with Maude getting pregnant and grappling with the question of having an abortion. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Lear explained that Maude was originally made pregnant for the sake of comedy, “but when we went deep into it and explored all of the things we might have done — false pregnancy, atopic pregnancy — anything but facing what about this almost 50-year-old woman having a baby. It just wasn’t in our nature by that time to wish to take the easy way. So then we had to face, ‘Should we have the baby?’ ‘Would Maude have the baby?’ We could figure her tortured about it, but not coming out, at that age, in that marriage, at this time of life, deciding to have the baby. So, let’s face that.”

Lear Said Maude was the Character Most Like Himself

Lear has written that, of all of his characters, the one most like him was Maude, saying that she shared “my passion, my social concerns and my politics.” Maude is also said to be based on Lear’s second wife, activist and publisher Frances Loeb.

’Good Times’

Lasting six seasons, from 1974 to 1979, Good Times centered around Florida and James Evans, played by Esther Rolle and John Amos. It portrayed a poor Black family living in the Chicago projects. (Implied to be Cabrini–Green.) The show was television’s first spin-off of a spin-off, as Florida Evans had been Maude’s housekeeper in Maude’s early seasons.

‘Good Times’ Began as a Realistic Look at the Life of Poor Black Families

In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Lear said that Good Times was “heralded” by the Black community for “looking at the reality of Black life. A man was holding two jobs, sometimes three jobs, and we were looking at the nitty-gritty.”

In Time, Though, J.J. Took Over the Show

Good Times’ breakout character was J.J., played by Jimmie Walker, who is best known for his catchphrase “Dy-no-mite!” Despite skepticism from Lear and Walker, producer and director John Rich decided that J.J. would say the catchphrase in every episode, and the show eventually began to center around this character.

Lear Fired Amos from ‘Good Times’

Amos fought the tonal shift of Good Times and its focus on J.J. instead of the rest of the family. He also objected to the show’s lack of Black writers. Amos admits he wasn’t the most diplomatic person about these objections — he would threaten to take a writer outside and fight — so he was eventually let go by Lear, and his character was killed off after Season Three.

‘The Jeffersons’ Grew Out of a Criticism of ‘Good Times’

The Jeffersons was the most successful spin-off of All in the Family, lasting 11 seasons from 1975 to 1985. The series depicted the Bunkers’ Black neighbors, George and Louise Jefferson, moving from Queens to Manhattan thanks to the success of George’s dry-cleaning business. As Lear explained in an interview, the motivation behind creating the show was a reaction to a criticism of Good Times. As Good Times depicted a poor Black family, some viewers said they wanted to see a more affluent, upwardly-mobile Black family, hence The Jeffersons.

Isabel Sanford Originally Declined to Star in ‘The Jeffersons’

All in the Family was a success,” Sanford, who played Louise “Wheezy” Jefferson, said in 2016, “I didn’t know what The Jeffersons was going to present, so I turned it down.” She revealed that her mind was changed by the casting director, who said Louise would be recast and removed from All in the Family if she declined. “That helped make up my mind,” Sanford said.

‘The Jeffersons’ Was Also an Emmy Winner

Over the show’s 11 seasons, The Jeffersons won two Emmys. One was for editing, and the other was for Sanford’s portrayal of “Wheezy.”

Lear Saw George Jefferson as the Black Archie Bunker

In a DVD extra interview for the complete series of The Jeffersons, Lear said, “George Jefferson was the Black version of Archie Bunker. Out of his background, he developed a way of dealing with problems with a smile on his face. Made him no less tough, no less determined to have his way. … There was an attitude toward life that was a lot more welcoming and cheery than Archie’s. They were mirror images in a bad mirror.”

’Checking In’

In 1981 Lear spun off the character of the Jeffersons’ maid Florence Johnston to her own show called Checking In. It lasted just four episodes, with actress Marla Gibbs returning to her spot on The Jeffersons

’704 Hauser’

Despite firing Amos from Good Times, Lear and Amos teamed up again in 1994 for the final spin-off of All in the Family. The show was called 704 Hauser, and it centered on a Black family with a liberal father and conservative son moving into Archie Bunker’s old house. It lasted just six episodes before it was canceled. 

Why ‘704 Hauser’ Didn’t Work

When asked why audiences didn’t accept 704 Hauser, Lear said, “I didn’t think we got it. I think they would have, had we done it right.”

‘Sanford and Son’ Was Another British Adaptation

“Bud (Yorkin) and I were in Las Vegas and fell in love with Redd Foxx,” Lear told Variety. “We thought he was hysterical and thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s a television star.’” From there, Lear and Yorkin adapted the British series Steptoe and Son into Sanford and Son, with Foxx as a proprietor of a junkyard.

Demond Wilson Appeared on ‘All in the Family’ Before ‘Sanford and Son’

Lear got the idea for casting Demond Wilson as the son of Foxx in Sanford and Son after Wilson appeared as a burglar in an All in the Family episode

Wilson Beat Out Richard Pryor

Wilson said that, before he was cast in Sanford and Son, Lear was considering casting Pryor as Foxx’s son. Wilson told Lear, “You can’t put a comedian with a comedian. You’ve got to have a straight man.” 

‘Sanford and Son’ Was Less Politically Charged Than ‘All in the Family’

While All in the Family tackled a wide variety of social issues, Sanford and Son did not and was more of a straightforward comedy. When asked if this was a deliberate move, Lear said, “Yes. We didn’t compare (All in the Family and Sanford and Son), but the characters called it like they saw it in their own neighborhoods.”

Lear Said Foxx Was a ‘Clown’

“Redd Foxx was a real clown,” Lear said in an interview. “He could walk into a room and tell you your mother died and make you laugh.”

Foxx was Lured Away from ‘Sanford and Son’

Sanford and Son ran from 1972 to 1977. After its sixth season, Foxx was lured away from NBC to ABC with a big pay raise to do The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour, a variety show that lasted just one season.

’Sanford and Son’ Also Had Some Spin-offs

Grady, centered around Fred Sanford’s friend Grady Wilson, lasted one season from 1975 to 1976, and when it was canceled, Grady returned to Sanford and Son. When Sanford and Son ended in 1977, NBC created Sanford Arms with much of the supporting cast but no Foxx or Wilson. It lasted just eight episodes. Finally, Foxx wanted to revive Sanford and Son in 1980, but Wilson refused to come back. The result was Sanford, which lasted two seasons.

Lear Was Clearly Incredibly Prolific

At one point, he had nine different series on television.

He was Also a Ratings Juggernaut

From 1972 until 1983, at least two shows he created occupied a place in the top 20 most-watched shows on television.

Lear Was Southern California’s President of the ACLU

In 1973, Lear became president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and remained in the post for several years.

Lear Developed ‘One Day at a Time’

In 1975, Lear helped develop One Day at a Time. The show was created by husband-and-wife duo Whitney Blake and Allan Manings and was based on Blake’s life raising children following her divorce. The show lasted for nine seasons.

There Was Also ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’

Lear also developed the satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, which followed the bizarre circumstances surrounding an Ohio housewife played by Louise Lasser. While it lasted just two seasons, 325 episodes were produced as the show ran nightly via syndication. Critics loved the show, and it became a cult classic.

Of Course, ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’ Had a Spin-off

Fernwood 2 Night, also called America 2 Night and Fernwood Tonight, was a satirical talk show starring Martin Mull and Fred Willard, which also ran in syndication for 65 episodes.

Lear Did Have Some Outright Flops

Much of Lear’s work has been a success with critics, audiences or both, but he did have a few clunkers. Among them were: The Dumplings, a sitcom about an overweight couple that ran a deli; All That Glitters, a satirical sitcom in a world where women were the dominant gender; and In the Beginning, a show about a conservative priest and a liberal nun running a mission together. 

Lear Is Dustin Hoffman’s Cousin

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lear said he was cousins with the Oscar winner.

He’s Been Accused of Stealing Ideas

Good Times co-creator Eric Monte has called Lear a “racist” and a “thief” for stealing formative ideas for The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son. Norman Lear has never responded to the charges.

He Thought Jimmy Carter Was Incompetent

Lear has always been a vocal Democrat, but in 1980 he supported the liberal Republican John Anderson for a third-party presidential bid since he thought Carter was incompetent

He’s Been Married Three Times

From 1943 to 1956, Norman Lear was married to Charlotte Rosen, and they had one daughter together before they divorced. He was then married to Francis Loeb from 1956 until 1985, with whom he had two daughters. Following a divorce from Loeb, he married filmmaker and activist Lyn Davis in 1987, having three children together. 

He Founded The People for The American Way

In 1980 Lear founded the liberal advocacy group, which he created to oppose the Christian right’s supposed moral majority. 

Lear Was Labeled ‘An Enemy of the American Family’

Lear vocally opposed televangelist Jerry Falwell, eventually leading to Falwell calling him “an enemy of the American family.”

He Owns a Signed Copy of the Declaration of Independence

In 2000, Lear paid over $8 million for a 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence.

He Also Created a Star-Studded Reading of the Declaration of Independence

After acquiring the document, Lear and Reiner filmed a reading of the Declaration performed by Morgan Freeman, Mel Gibson, Whoopi Goldberg and Renee Zellweger. He created it to inspire young people to get involved in political activism.

Why He Always Wears a Hat

According to GQ, Lear always wears a hat because “he’d pick at his baldpate out of nervousness.”

It’s a Porkpie Hat

The kind of hat Lear wears is called a “Porkpie” hat. According to Wikipedia, “this style of hat features a flat crown that resembles a traditional pork pie, thus earning its name.”

The Two Other ‘All in the Family’ Pilots Got Released Decades Later

In 1998, TV Land aired Those Were the Days, the second unaired pilot for All in the Family. At the time, it was believed that the original pilot, Justice for All, was lost, but it eventually surfaced and was released on DVD in 2009. 

He Doesn’t Have a Favorite Show or Episode of His Work

In 2016, Lear was asked if he had a favorite series or episode of his. He replied, “The head spins with various things on various shows: Edith loses her faith and regains it, takes me to Mary Hartman losing her mind and regaining it. There is something about all of them that flashes to mind.”

‘Even This I Get to Experience’

In 2014 he published the memoir, Even This I Get to Experience. The title is a bit of a personal credo for Lear, which The New York Times summed up as “almost a family joke, a phrase that Lear says sums up his ruling attitude in life; no matter how difficult a situation, he felt somehow detached enough to revel in the sheer novelty of the experience.”

Katey Sagal is His Goddaughter

Futurama and Married with Children star Sagal is Lear’s goddaughter, as he was the one that introduced her parents to each other.

He’s Pals with Trey Parker

Lear is friends with South Park co-creator Trey Parker. He even officiated Parker’s first wedding in 2006 and provided a voice for Ben Franklin on a 2003 episode of South Park.

He Loved ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, Lear said he doesn’t keep up with much television, and the last show he watched religiously was The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, “The only show I had a date with was when Jon Stewart was on the air at 11 o’clock at night. When there was nobody else but Jon Stewart on the air, my wife and I were kidding about going to bed with him every night,” Lear said.

He Gave Reiner His First Break as a Director

After Reiner played Michael Stivic on All in the Family, Lear backed Reiner as a director too. Reiner’s first film was This is Spinal Tap in 1984, which Lear produced.

He Also Produced ‘The Princess Bride’

Lear produced Reiner’s beloved film The Princess Bride as well. In 2016, Lear said of the film, “I had nothing to do with this film, creatively. It wouldn’t have gotten made had Rob and I not been friends. He told me about it, but he couldn’t get a studio to make this one. And I helped them get it made, but creatively, this is 100 percent Rob.”

He Helped Reboot ‘One Day at a Time’

Lear signed on as an executive producer for a reboot of One Day at a Time in 2017, which now focused on a Latine family. The show was a critical success and caused an audience revolt when Netflix canceled it after Season Three. This led to it getting another season on Pop.

He’s a Kennedy Center Award Winner

In 2017, at age 95, Lear was honored with a Kennedy Center Award.

He Almost Didn’t Show Up to the Ceremony, Though

Originally, Lear said he wouldn’t attend the ceremony for the Kennedy Center Award in protest of Donald Trump. Trump, however, backed out of the Kennedy Center Honors, prompting Lear to attend.

The Key to the Success of His Shows

At the Kennedy Center red carpet, when asked why his shows have resonated, Lear said, “There’s a lot of love in these shows.” 

He’s Won a Lot of Awards

In addition to his Kennedy Center Award and his Emmys, Lear has won two Peabodys, the National Medal of Arts, the Golden Globe Carol Burnett Award and is a member of the Television Academy Hall of Fame. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He Became the Oldest Emmy Winner Ever

In 2019, at age 97, Lear became the oldest Emmy winner in history when he won for Outstanding Live Variety Special for ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons.’ The special starred Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei as the Bunkers, with Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes as the Jeffersons. 

Seeing the ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ Sets Made Lear Cry

During the reconstruction of the sets for The Jeffersons and All in the Family, Lear confided that seeing them again brought a tear to his eye.

Why Lear Did the Live Versions of ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’

When asked why he thought All in the Family and The Jeffersons were still relevant today, Lear said, “Nothing’s changed in human nature, and the problems we dealt with then are the problems we’re still dealing with.”

He Became the Oldest Emmy Winner Ever — Again

In 2020, at age 98, Lear broke his own record by winning an Emmy for ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times.’ This brought him to a grand total of six Emmys, and given that Lear is still active, it’s entirely possible that he might beat this record again.

How He Stays Sharp

In 2016, Lear was asked how he manages to stay so sharp. His reply was, “I haven’t stopped learning about myself and my life. I think the vertical journey into oneself never ends.”

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