Norman Lear (05:39)
Norman Lear changed American television in the 1970s by introducing satire into sitcoms. He reflects on his life after turning 90.
Lear's Childhood (04:01)
Lear reads a passage from his memoir about his father. He went to jail when Lear was 9-years-old. Lear's mother sent him to live with family members and he worked at Coney Island to make money.
Lear in Hollywood (03:00)
Lear met writer Ed Simmons shortly after moving to Hollywood. They wrote a parody together one night and sold it the next morning. They continued writing together.
Lear and "All in the Family" (07:46)
A cultural revolution was happening in America in the 1970s, but it had not reached television. Lear developed the idea of a progressive son dealing with a conservative father. It became "All in the Family."
Lear and Archie Bunker (05:02)
Carroll O'Connor played Archie Bunker on "All in the Family." The character was being viewed as a lovable bigot, but O'Connor thought otherwise. Lear felt O'Connor had more public responsibility for the character than he did.
Lear and World War II (08:06)
Lear was first exposed to antisemitism from a radio broadcast with he was 9-years-old. He volunteered to fight in World War II because he wanted to be known as a Jew who served. Lear barely spoke about the war to his son, but they would write wish fulfillment stories about it.
Lear and Women's Rights (08:52)
Lear was friends with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and other comedy greats of the 20th Century. Through them he met and married his wife Frances, who was a leading women's rights activist. Lear's show "Maude" included ideas of the women's rights movement.
Lear and "Good Times" (09:23)
Lear believes all people are just versions of each other. "Good Times" was the first sitcom with an African-American cast. As the show went on, the actors felt the huge responsibility of being the only black characters on television.
Lear and "The Jeffersons" (05:15)
With all the criticism "Good Times" was facing, Lear created "The Jeffersons", a second show about a black family. "The Jeffersons" was viewed as a more realistic take on a black family in America.
Lear as a Television Mogul (07:56)
In the 1970s, six of the top ten shows were Lear's. Lear was so busy with work he spent little time with his family. His marriage ended, and he announced he was leaving his shows.
Lear and Political Activism (07:06)
Lear was concerned about the rise of the Moral Majority and TV evangelicals mixing politics and religion. He dedicated himself to activism after leaving his television shows.
Lear and Family Life (05:20)
Through political activism, Lear met Lyn, who was 25 years younger than him. They had three children.
Lear and his Father (07:08)
In his mid-80s, Lear started looking back at his life seriously. He wanted to better understand his feelings about his father.
Lear's View on Life (03:52)
Lear reflects on his life. He called his memoir "Even This I Get to Experience."
Credits: Norman Lear (02:32)
Credits: Norman Lear
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