Norman Lear turns 100

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Norman Lear, who created the iconic bigot Archie Bunker, the 1970s television sitcom All in the Family, and its spin-off Archie Bunker’s Place has reached the incredible milestone of celebrating his 100th birthday. He becomes one of the very few centenarians currently alive.

Lear penned an eloquently written essay to The New York Times, reflecting on his decades of experience. He specifically shared his thoughts about what transpired on January 6, 2021, when domestic terrorists attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. Lear also praised “the handful of conservative Republican lawmakers, lawyers and former White House staffers who resisted Mr. Trump’s bullying.”

The man who created Archie Bunker, continued to explain why All in the Family was important, especially for the times. Subjects such as racism, feminism, homosexuality, the Vietnam War and Watergate were not previously addressed on TV, but seeing those subjects being debated between Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), his liberal daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), and her super liberal “meathead” husband Michael (Rob Reiner) opened them up to be discussed more widely in American homes. 

The Bunker character was based on Lear’s own father Herman Lear and on Alf Garnett from the BBC1 sitcom Till Death Us Do Part.

Lear believes that Bunker “probably would have been a Trump voter. But I think that the sight of the American flag being used to attack Capitol Police would have sickened him.”

Lear would also be the brains behind Family spin-offs Maude, The Jeffersons, Gloria, Good Times, the short-lived 704 Hauser as well as classics Sanford and Son, Mary Hartman, Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Fernwood 2 Night and America 2 Night.

The centenarian went on to marvel over how quickly technology has evolved since he was born and recognizes what an incredible milestone he has reached with both his health and mental clarity still very much intact. 

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Lear has continued to work in show business all these years and has won Emmy awards for Live In Front Of A Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All In The Family’ And ‘The Jeffersons’ in 2019 and in 2020 for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times’ making him the oldest person in history to collect these awards. 

The birthday celebration is reported to be happening in Vermont with his entire family including his wife Lyn Davis, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and political activist, six children, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. 

ABC intends to air a special broadcast called Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter to celebrate his birthday with a lineup of celebrity guests and musical performances to be announced at a later date and will air Thursday, September 22, 2022 (and available to stream the next day on Hulu.)

The two-hour special will honor the life and legacy of Lear, including his work as a producer, activist and philanthropist.

Happy birthday, Mr. Lear.

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