Celebrities paid emotional tributes to television legend Norman Lear following his death aged 101 on Tuesday.
Billy Crystal, 75, shared a poignant throwback snap holding Lear’s hand as he lauded his talent and sense of humor.
He wrote: ‘We have lost a giant… a man of great humor and dignity. What an amazing life that has given so much to us all.
‘He used laughter as a way to look at ourselves. A blessing to have been his friend for almost 50 yrs. ‘
Actor Rob Reiner, 76, who appeared in Lear’s show All In The Family, wrote: ‘I loved Norman Lear with all my heart. He was my second father. Sending my love to Lyn and the whole Lear family.’
Celebrities paid emotional tributes to television legend Norman Lear following his death aged 101 on Tuesday – Billy Crystal said it was a ‘blessing’ to be Lear’s friend
Norman Lear, seen here in 2019, died at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes on Tuesday, with a private service for close family to be held in the coming days
Jimmy Kimmel, 56, wrote: ‘It is obviously silly to want more time with a person who outlived a whole century but losing Norman Lear, even at 101 years old, feels unfair.
‘His bravery, integrity and unmatched moral compass were equaled by his kindness, empathy, and wit. Norman was very proud of the fact that the so-called Reverend Jerry Falwell dubbed him “The number one enemy of the American family.” The opposite was true.
‘More than anyone before him, Norman used situation comedy to shine a light on prejudice, intolerance, and inequality. He created families that mirrored ours, showing us a world in which Archie Bunker and Michael Stivic could learn to not only co-exist, but to love one another.
‘As a young man, Technical Sergeant Lear flew 52 combat missions over Nazi Germany. He continued to fight for freedom all the way to the end of his life on earth. Even at 101, Norman cared as much about the future, our children, and planet as anyone I have ever known.
‘He was a great American, a hero in every way and so funny, smart, and such a lovely man you almost couldn’t believe it.
‘The privilege of working alongside Norman and the opportunity he gave me and my wife to get to know him and his beautiful family has been among the great honors and pleasures of my life. We were all very lucky to have him. ‘
Quinta Brunson, 33, wrote: ‘My Goat. What a life. Rest well, Norman Lear.’
Alec Baldwin, 65, honored his longtime friend and mentor, writing: ‘Although Norman’s passing was looming for anyone aged 100, his loss is incalculable.
Actor Rob Reiner, 76, who appeared in Lear’s show All In The Family, wrote: ‘I loved Norman Lear with all my heart. He was my second father. Sending my love to Lyn and the whole Lear family’
Michael Douglas shared a sweet snap with Lear and paid tribute
Alec Baldwin , 65, honored his longtime friend and mentor, writing: ‘Although Norman’s passing was looming for anyone aged 100, his loss is incalculable.
‘With a legendary brilliance in his creative field, a dogged pursuit of truth and human rights in his political advocacy, and a warmth, wit and generosity to all who served with him on behalf of @peoplefor_, this is the passing of a true giant in American life.
‘Norman was a real mentor to me which I will never forget. My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. My love to Lynn.
Meanwhile, GLAAD President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement: ‘Norman Lear was a true pioneer whose legacy will forever be connected to including LGBTQ characters on television when no one else would.’
‘With storylines on “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “The Jeffersons,” the new “One Day at a Time,” and the upcoming “Clean Slate” starring Laverne Cox, Lear humanized the LGBTQ community for the millions of people who tuned in to watch his shows. Norman Lear made it a priority to champion LGBTQ creators and he pushed Hollywood to follow in his groundbreaking footsteps.’
The script writer and producer died at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes on Tuesday, with a private service for close family to be held in the coming days, Variety reported.
Lear’s family said in a statement: ‘Thank you for the moving outpouring of love and support in honor of our wonderful husband, father, and grandfather.
‘Norman lived a life of creativity, tenacity, and empathy. He deeply loved our country and spent a lifetime helping to preserve its founding ideals of justice and equality for all.
‘Knowing and loving him has been the greatest of gifts. We ask for your understanding as we mourn privately in celebration of this remarkable human being.’
The television producer is seen in his office in Los Angeles on March 29, 1979
Lear’s family said he passed away surrounded by loved ones as they told stories and sang songs.
With a career that spanned more than six decades, Lear created or helped develop some of the most loved comedians in American television history.
These included the likes of ‘All in the Family, ‘Sanford and Son’, ‘Good Times, and ‘The Jeffersons’.
Lear, who won six Emmy awards for his work in television, was known for campaigning for liberal causes, including voting rights, and worked well into his 90s.
Among his milestones was creating the first African American nuclear family regularly appearing on television: the Evans clan on ‘Good Times,’ beginning in 1974.
Lear injected the sensitive subjects of race, sexuality, class, inequality and politics like the anti-war movement into his work, breaking the sitcom mold and beaming modern visions of family life into millions of US households.
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 a depth and air of controversy.
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.
In this post to his Twitter, in October, Lear is seen alongside his grandson Noah as he blows on a harmonica
Lear, seen here in 1972, was known for his campaigning for liberal causes, including voting rights, and worked well into his 90s
Former President Bill Clinton is seen here alongside Hillary Clinton awarding Lear with the 1999 National Medal of Arts and Humanities Award
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.
Carroll O’Connor portrayed Archie as a crude, loud, blue-collar New Yorker who spouted racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic comments.
He was cast against a scatter-brained wife he called ‘Dingbat,’ a liberal daughter and an even more liberal son-in-law he referred to as ‘Meathead’ and played by Rob Reiner.
In a post to his social media, Reiner paid tribute to Lear, saying: ‘I loved Norman Lear with all my heart.
‘He was my second father. Sending my love to Lyn and the whole Lear family.’
ABC passed on broadcasting ‘All in the Family’ twice, and CBS was initially reluctant to take it on.
When ‘All in Family’ was eventually aired it begin with a disclaimer that said: ‘The program you are about to see is ‘All in the Family.’
‘It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of laughter we hope to show, in a mature fashion, just how absurd they are.’
By the end of 1971, ‘All In the Family’ was No. 1 in the ratings and Archie Bunker was a pop culture fixture, with President Richard Nixon among his fans
It was the top-rated show on U.S. television for five straight years, according to CBS, and TV Guide ranked it fourth on its list of television’s all-time greatest shows.
‘The Jeffersons’ was another spin-off of ‘All in the Family’ and featured an upwardly mobile Black couple who moved to Manhattan’s glitzy upper eastside neighborhood.
Lear’s other hits included ‘Sanford and Son’ a sitcom about a Black junkyard owner in a Los Angeles neighborhood, and ‘Good Times,’ a protrayal of a working-class Black family in a Chicago housing project.
Actor Carroll O’Connor, left, portrayed bigoted patriarch Archie Bunker in the provocative TV series ‘All In the Family’
Lear, left, and Rob Reiner, seen here in 2006, worked together on Lear’s historic 1970s sitcom ‘All In the Family,’ in which Reiner played Archie Bunker’s liberal son-in-law ‘Meathead’
Born on July 27, 1922 in New Haven, Connecticut, Norman Milton Lear’s most lasting creation was partly based on fact.
Many of the harsh words that came out of Archie Bunker’s mouth had first been spoken by Lear’s own father, Herman Lear, who went to prison for selling fake bonds, and frequently told his wife to ‘stifle’ herself and called his son ‘the laziest white kid I ever saw.’
‘I grew up in a family that lived at the top of its lungs and the ends of its nerves,’ Lear told Esquire magazine.
Lear dropped out of college in World War Two to join the Army and flew 52 combat missions.
He went to Los Angeles in 1950 with the intention of being a publicist but began writing for TV stars such as Danny Thomas, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin and Andy Williams.
Lear and Robert Downey Jr. attend Netflix’s ‘Sr.’ reception on December 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Lear and actor Rita Moreno attends The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in 2018
Lear shifted focus in 1981 and founded the liberal activist group People for the American Way to boost voting rights and fight right-wing extremism.
He also established the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication.
In 2001, he and a partner purchased an original copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and sent it on a three-year tour of U.S. schools, libraries and events.
Lear remained a youthful presence for much of life and continued creating television well into his 90s, rebooting ‘One Day at a Time’ for Netflix in 2017.
He was also featured in two documentaries: 2016´s ‘Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You,’ and HBO´s 2017 look at active nonagenarians such as Lear and Rob Reiner´s father, Carl Reiner, ‘If You´re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.’
In 1984, he was lauded as the ‘innovative writer who brought realism to television’ when he became one of the first seven people inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame.
He later received a National Medal of Arts and was honored at the Kennedy Center for his contributions.
In 2020, he won an Emmy as executive producer of ‘Live In Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All In the Family’ and ‘Good Times’.
Lear is survived by his third wife, Lyn, and his six children.