Famed TV writer Norman Lear celebrates his 100TH birthday

Television legend Norman Lear is counting his blessings as he celebrates his 100th birthday with his family in Vermont, but the writer and producer doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon. 

The Hollywood heavyweight, who turned 100 on Wednesday, opened up about his milestone birthday and the 23 projects he currently has in the works in a new interview with People magazine.  

‘I can’t wait to be at my home in Vermont and celebrate with my entire family — my wonderful wife [Lyn Davis Lear], my six children, my two sons-in-law, and my four grandchildren. How lucky am I?’ he said. 

Television legend Norman Lear celebrated his milestone 100th birthday on Wednesday

Television legend Norman Lear celebrated his milestone 100th birthday on Wednesday 

Lear told People that he would be spending the day at his home in Vermont with his wife Lyn Davis Lear (pictured), his six children, his two sons-in-law, and his four grandchildren

Lear told People that he would be spending the day at his home in Vermont with his wife Lyn Davis Lear (pictured), his six children, his two sons-in-law, and his four grandchildren

Lear, the creator of the classic ’70s sitcoms All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude, Sanford and Son, and One Day at a Time, has had a longstanding history of pushing the boundaries of the television medium.

Over the course of his illustrious career, he has tackled a variety of social issues on his shows, including racism, women’s rights, and abortion.

In 2019, he became the oldest person to win an Emmy Award at age 97 for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons.

He broke his own record the following year when he won another Emmy for the variety special. However, the six-time Emmy winner considers his greatest accomplishment to be fatherhood.  

‘Truth to tell, certainly I’ve done nothing more important than father or child,’ he told People. 

‘Nothing more delicious than becoming a grandfather of a child as a result of having fathered a child. I don’t know that there’s anything more romantic in living than all of that.’

Lear was treated to a massive cake during an early birthday celebration hosted on the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, California, on July 19

Lear was treated to a massive cake during an early birthday celebration hosted on the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, California, on July 19 

Lear created the classic '70s sitcoms All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons. The writer (center) is pictured with the All in the Family cast in 1971

Lear created the classic ’70s sitcoms All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons. The writer (center) is pictured with the All in the Family cast in 1971 

Lear married his first wife, Charlotte Rosen, in 1943, and they welcomed their daughter, Ellen, four years later. 

After they divorced in 1956, he married his second wife, Frances Loeb, that same year. He and Loeb had two daughters together, Kate and Maggie, before they divorced in 1985. 

Two years later, he tied the knot with Davis Lear, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and political activist. They have a son, Benjamin, and twin daughters, Brianna and Madelaine. 

‘My wife is her own individual and I fell in love with that individual,’ he gushed of Davis Lear, his wife of nearly 35 years. ‘And over those years I’ve only learned more about why I should have cared in the first place and continued to care in the following place. She is a sterling human being.’

More than 60 years into his career, Lear has no plans of slowing down. He has 23 projects in development with his business partner Brent Miller, who is president of his production company Act III.

Lear was awarded the National Medal of Arts and Humanities in 1999 by then President Bill Clinton (pictured)

Lear was awarded the National Medal of Arts and Humanities in 1999 by then President Bill Clinton (pictured) 

The Hollywood heavyweight (pictured with Jennifer Aniston) has no plans of retiring

The Hollywood heavyweight (pictured with Jennifer Aniston) has no plans of retiring 

Among the shows he’s working on is a Who’s The Boss? reboot starring Tony Danza and Alyssa Milano, who will be reprising their roles as father and daughter Tony and Samantha Micelli. 

‘My awards and accolades mean a great deal to me, but they don’t mean as much as the drive to the studio today,’ he said. ‘I still explode with joy, excitement, interest, and utter delight every time.’

Lear added that he likes ‘getting up in the morning,’ saying, ‘I have always liked it because I’ve always had something to do. I was born that way, and it is a great gift. As I talk about it, I accept it as a gift.’  

In honor of his 100th birthday, he penned an op-ed reflecting on his All in the Family character Archie Bunker and former President Donald Trump that was published by The New York Times on Wednesday. 

‘Well, I made it. I am 100 years old today. I wake up every morning grateful to be alive,’ he wrote. ‘Reaching my own personal centennial is cause for a bit of reflection on my first century — and on what the next century will bring for the people and country I love. To be honest, I’m a bit worried that I may be in better shape than our democracy is.’ 

In 2019, Lear (pictured with Jimmy Kimmel) became the oldest person to win an Emmy at age 97 for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons

In 2019, Lear (pictured with Jimmy Kimmel) became the oldest person to win an Emmy at age 97 for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons

Lear (pictured with Dave Chappell at Netflix is a Joke Presents in May) has 23 projects in the works, including a Who's the Boss? reboot

Lear (pictured with Dave Chappell at Netflix is a Joke Presents in May) has 23 projects in the works, including a Who’s the Boss? reboot 

Lear shared that he was ‘deeply troubled’ by the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and ‘how far Mr. Trump was willing to go to stay in office after being rejected by voters.’

He noted that he doesn’t ‘take the threat of authoritarianism lightly,’ recalling how he dropped out of college after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and joined the U.S. Army Air Forces. 

‘I am a flag-waving believer in truth, justice, and the American way, and I don’t understand how so many people who call themselves patriots can support efforts to undermine our democracy and our Constitution. It is alarming,’ he said. 

Lear, who is known for his political activism and supporting progressive causes, praised ‘the handful of conservative Republican lawmakers, lawyers, and former White House staffers who resisted Mr. Trump’s bullying.’ 

The television writer reflected on how Archie Bunker would argue with his family about ‘racism, feminism, homosexuality, the Vietnam War, and Watergate’ on All in the Family — many issues that are still being hotly debated today. 

In honor of his 100th birthday, Lear penned an op-ed reflecting on Archie Bunker and former President Donald Trump that was published by The New York Times

In honor of his 100th birthday, Lear penned an op-ed reflecting on Archie Bunker and former President Donald Trump that was published by The New York Times

Lear wrote that his All in the Family character Archie Bunker (pictured) probably would have voted for former President Donald Trump but added that he thinks the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 would have 'sickened him' Lear wrote that his All in the Family character Archie Bunker probably would have voted for former President Donald Trump (pictured) but added that he thinks the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 would have 'sickened him'

Lear wrote that his All in the Family character Archie Bunker (left) probably would have voted for former President Donald Trump (right) but added that he thinks the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 would have ‘sickened him’

‘For all his faults, Archie loved his country and he loved his family, even when they called him out on his ignorance and bigotries,’ he explained. 

‘If Archie had been around 50 years later, he probably would have watched Fox News. He probably would have been a Trump voter. But I think that the sight of the American flag being used to attack Capitol Police would have sickened him. 

‘I hope that the resolve shown by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and their commitment to exposing the truth, would have won his respect.’

Lear, who co-founded the progressive group People for the American Way, shared that while he often feels ‘disheartened by the direction that our politics, courts,’ and culture, he continues to have faith in our country and its future. 

‘Reaching this birthday with my health and wits mostly intact is a privilege. Approaching it with loving family, friends, and creative collaborators to share my days has filled me with a gratitude I can hardly express,’ he concluded his op-ed. 

‘This is our century, dear reader, yours and mine. Let us encourage one another with visions of a shared future. And let us bring all the grit and openheartedness and creative spirit we can muster to gather together and build that future.’ 

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