Television Legend Passes Away at 101

( – The man who shaped television in the 70s perhaps more than any other, screenwriter and producer Norman Lear, died at 101 on Tuesday, December 5. Critics credit Lear with bringing current events and political commentary into comedic storylines and finding humor in modern everyday situations.

“All in the Family” has remained his best-known television hit. It ran from 1971 through 1979 with 207 episodes that many critics initially panned, but viewers seemed to love. The show revolved around Archie Bunker, a middle-aged, bigoted curmudgeon, and his family dealing with issues like women’s liberation, civil rights, women’s and racial equality, crime, and the rising cost of living.

While “All in the Family” was groundbreaking in many ways, it wasn’t Lear’s only 70’s hit or the only one dealing with social commentary. Several other shows grew out of the same fictional universe, including “Maude,” starring Bea Arthur, which ran from 1972 through 1978, following the life and trials of an independent liberal-minded woman, and “Sanford and Son,” about a junk dealer and his family, starring Redd Foxx, which ran from 1972 through 1977.

Others included “Good Times,” a spin-off from “Maude” about a black family in the projects trying to make ends meet, “The Jeffersons,” upwardly mobile Black neighbors of the Bunkers, and “Archies Bunker’s Place,” which ran for four years after “All in the Family” ended. Lear also had hits outside that universe with “One Day at a Time” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”

Born in 1922 to Jewish parents of Russian descent in New Haven, Connecticut, Lear always joked that he based Archie and Edith Bunker on his folks. He said his dad used to tell his mom, “Stifle yourself,” and he used the line effectively with Archie. Lear attended Emerson College in Boston for nearly two years but dropped out to fight in World War II as part of the Army Air Corps.

After the Army discharged him, Lear eventually made his way to Los Angeles, where he and his cousin’s husband, Ed Simmons, caught an incredible break and began writing comedy acts for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. His career took off from there, and he wrote scripts for television shows and comedy specials. He finally established his own production company with Bud Yorkin, Tandem Productions, so he could control the production of the scripts he wrote for variety shows, TV shows, and movies. It also allowed him to propose new shows to networks, like “All in the Family.”

His novel approach to production, scripts, and content modernized the industry.

Lear leaves behind a wife, Lyn Davis, six children, and four grandchildren.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

Copyright 2023,