American film and television producer, writer, and screenwriter Norman Milton Lear (born July 27, 1922) are responsible for more than a hundred original series. All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, and Good Times are just a few of Lear’s award-winning sitcoms from the 1970s. Lear has remained active in the television production industry, with projects like the 2017 remake of One Day at a Time and the 2022 Netflix revival of Good Times.
Lear has been recognized with numerous honors throughout his career, including five Emmys, the National Medal of Arts, and the Kennedy Center Honors. The Television Academy inducted him into their hall of fame. Lear has also made a name for himself in the political realm, thanks to his support of progressive causes and candidates. To combat the Christian right’s political dominance, he launched People for the American Way in 1980 and toured with a copy of the Declaration of Independence in the early 2000s.
Norman Lear Early Life
Jeanette (née Seicol) and traveling salesman Hyman “Herman” Lear raised Lear in New Haven, Connecticut. Claire Lear Brown was his sister (1925–2015). Lear had a Bar Mitzvah in Connecticut. His mother is Ukrainian and his father is Russian. When Lear was 9, his father went to prison for selling bogus bonds. Lear called his father a “rascal” and said he modeled Archie Bunker (a white Protestant) after him and Edith Bunker after his mother.
Lear says he was 9 when he first heard anti-semitic Catholic radio priest, Father Charles Coughlin while tinkering with his crystal radio. Lear claimed he heard more of Coughlin’s radio sermons over time and learned that he sometimes promoted anti-semitism by targeting Jews’ “great heroes,” such as Franklin Roosevelt.
Lear graduated from Weaver High School in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1940 and attended Emerson College in Boston until 1942, when he joined the Army Air Forces. Lear enlisted in September 1942. He served as a radio operator/gunner on Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft in the Mediterranean and European theatres.
Lear flew 52 combat flights and received four Oak Leaf Clusters for them. Lear was dismissed from the Army in 1945. His fellow World War II crew mates are portrayed in the books Crew Umbriago and 772nd Bomb Squadron: The Men, The Memories.
Norman Lear’s Personal Life
Lear has gone through three different marriages. Between the years of 1956 and 1985, he was married to Frances Loeb, who was the publisher of Lear’s magazine. In 1983, they went their separate ways, and the subsequent divorce settlement awarded Loeb $112 million from Lear. In 1987, he tied the knot with the producer Lyn Davis, now his wife. Katey Sagal, an actress and singer count Lear among her godparents. On July 27, 2022, Lear celebrated his 100th birthday.
Norman Lear’s Net Worth
Media mogul Norman Lear amassed a fortune of $200 million during his time in the television industry in the United States. All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, and Good Times are just a few of Norman Lear’s many hit 1970s sitcom creations. In addition, he is well-known for being an outspoken political activist who has given a lot of money to liberal candidates and organizations. Lear established People for the American Way to counter conservative Christians’ goals in 1980.
Norman Lear’s Career
Lear went into public relations after World War II. His Uncle Jack was the motivation behind his career path: “Jack, my dad’s brother, used always to give me a quarter whenever he saw me. Because he worked in the media, I decided I would follow in his footsteps. I have no other examples to follow. The only thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a guy who could give my nephew a quarter.” Lear packed up his young daughter and drove across the country to California so he could start over in public relations.
On his first evening in town, Lear saw a presentation of Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw at the Circle Theater, a small theatre in the round off Sunset Boulevard with only ninety seats. Sydney Chaplin, son of Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey, also appeared in the play. Sitting in front of him were Chaplin, Alan Mowbray, and Dame Gladys Cooper; when the show ended, Chaplin performed.
Elaine, Lear’s first cousin, was married to aspiring comedy writer Ed Simmons in Los Angeles. Simmons and Lear worked as a pair to market home goods door-to-door for The Gans Brothers and later sold family photographs in a similar fashion. Lear and Simmons were a prolific comedic writing team in the 1950s, contributing sketches to the likes of Martin and Lewis and Rowan and Martin’s TV shows.
According to a Billboard article from 1953, Lear and Simmons were guaranteed a record-breaking $52,000 each to write for five additional Martin and Lewis appearances on the Colgate Comedy Hour that year. In an interview with Vanity Fair published in 2015, Lear revealed that Jerry Lewis had engaged him and Simmons to work as writers for Martin and Lewis three weeks before their debut on the Colgate Comedy Hour in 1950.
Also in 1986, Lear admitted that he and Simmons were The Martin and Lewis Show’s primary writers for three years. To save the new Celeste Holm CBS sitcom Honestly, Celeste!, Lear was brought on as a writer in 1954. However, the show was canceled after only eight episodes. At the time, he replaced Nat Hiken as a producer of the NBC sitcom The Martha Raye Show when it was canceled after only 26 episodes.
In addition, Lear contributed to The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show by writing several opening monologues that aired between 1956 and 1961. Henry Fonda starred in Lear’s first television series, a half-hour western called The Deputy, which he created for Revue Studios in 1959.
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