Writer-producer-developer Norman Lear, who revolutionized American comedy with such daring, immensely popular early-‘70s sitcoms as “All in the Family” and “Sanford and Son,” died on Tuesday. He was 101.
Lear’s publicist confirmed to Variety that he died at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes. A private service for immediate family will be held in the coming days.
“Thank you for the moving outpouring of love and support in honor of our wonderful husband, father, and grandfather,” Lear’s family said in a statement. “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.”
Lear had already established himself as a top comedy writer and captured a 1968 Oscar nomination for his screenplay for “Divorce American Style” when he concocted the idea for a new sitcom, based on a popular British show, about a conservative, outspokenly bigoted working-class man and his fractious Queens family. “All in the Family” became an immediate hit, seemingly with viewers of all political persuasions.
Lear’s shows were the first to address the serious political, cultural and social flashpoints of the day – racism, abortion, homosexuality, the Vietnam war — by working pointed new wrinkles into the standard domestic comedy formula. No subject was taboo: Two 1977 episodes of “All in the Family” revolved around the attempted rape of lead character Archie Bunker’s wife Edith.