Los Angeles, December 06, 2023, The Europe Today: Producer-writer Norman Lear, whose groundbreaking hit comedies such as “All in the Family” and “Maude” addressed race, abortion and other social issues rarely seen previously on U.S. television, died on Tuesday, at the age of 101, his family said.
Lear, one of the most influential people in television, died at his Los Angeles home of natural causes, “surrounded by his family as we told stories and sang songs until the very end,” the family said on Facebook on Wednesday.
Lear, who won six Emmy Awards for his work in television, was known for his campaigning for liberal causes, including voting rights, and worked well into his 90s.
In addition to “All in the Family” and “Maude,” Lear dominated American TV screens in the 1970s and ’80s with the situation comedies “Sanford and Son,” “The Jeffersons,” and the soap-opera spoof “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.” At one point in the 1970s, Lear had eight shows on the air with an estimated 120 million viewers, Time magazine said.
By drawing material from social themes of the time, Lear’s shows made network executives nervous because they had depth and an air of controversy.
“For him to say that he didn’t have an impact on not only television but society is … a little too humble,” said Rob Reiner, who had a co-starring role on “All in the Family” before becoming a film director.
“I loved Norman Lear with all my heart,” Reiner said on the X social media platform after news of his death. “He was my second father.”
Lear and production partner Bud Yorkin put “All in the Family” on the air in January 1971, and the show would go on to win four Emmys for best comedy in its nine seasons. It was based on a British show, “Til Death Do Us Part,” and gave U.S. television one of its most memorable and controversial characters: Archie Bunker.
Veteran actor Carroll O’Connor portrayed Archie as a crude, loud, blue-collar New Yorker who spouted racist, homophobic and antisemitic comments. He was cast against a scatterbrained wife he called “Dingbat,” a liberal daughter and an even more liberal son-in-law he referred to as “Meathead,” played by Reiner.