When the first alert came across my phone this morning that we lost Norman Lear I did my usual thing when a big name passes. Alert the producers. (I take a lot of pride in knowing these things first. That’s the news person in me.)

Then, I started thinking about Norman Lear. I’m of an age when I remember his first big television show “All in the Family.” It was so controversial at the time that CBS put up a disclaimer before the first episode. As a kid in Paris, Texas, I thought I gotta see this. I don’t know why my parents allowed me to watch it.

There it was. Archie, Edith, Gloria and Mike… aka “Meathead.” As outrageous as the plots were, the one thing I most remember… Hearing a toilet flush on television for the first time. “All in the Family” did that.

You go back and think about what that show did in the 1970’s, they would never do that today. We are too politically correct now.

The Norman Lear shows that followed. “Maude.” “The Jeffersons.” “One Day at a Time. “Good Times.” “Sanford and Son.” The phrase “appointment television” came along later, but these shows, you showed up to watch. No VCR, no DVR, no streaming. You watched them when they were on.

Norman Lear produced TV shows that made you think about where you were in society. Always with humor and always with smarts.

The conservative Archie. The liberal Maude. The “Movin on Up” George. The single mom, Ann. The trying to survive life in the projects, Florida. Okay, maybe “Sanford and Son” was just a comedy vehicle for Redd Fox.

Norman Lear was 101. 101! A helluva run. Hollywood is paying tribute.

Rob Reiner… Mike Stivic… Meathead: “I loved Norman Lear with all my heart. He was my second father. Sending my love to Lyn and the whole Lear family.”

Billy Crystal: “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.”

Jimmy Kimmel: “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.”

Kimmel also wrote that Norman Lear became the target of TV preacher Jerry Falwell. He called him “the number one enemy of the American family.”Kimmel writes: “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.”

This has me thinking. When “All in the Family” first came on television, we were a divided nation. Vietnam. Assassinations. Racial strife. Somehow, we got through it.

Today, we are divided too. Different issues, maybe, but divided.

Norman Lear helped us get through it with humor. Maybe that’s the answer. Some laughs. Some love. Some thought. Some tolerance.

2 thoughts on “Norman Lear.”

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