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Norman Lear, titan of US prime-time television, dies | Ents & Arts News


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Norman Lear, the writer, director and producer credited with revolutionising US prime-time television, has died.

A spokesperson for Lear, aged 101, said he died on Tuesday night at his Los Angeles home surrounded by his family.

His shows, which include All In The Family and Maude, helped define prime-time television through his bold and controversial comedies in the 1970s.

2017 Kennedy Center Honorees singer Lionel Richie (L), TV writer Norman Lear (C) and Rapper LL Cool J chat among themselves at the conclusion of a gala dinner at the U.S. State Department, in Washington, U.S., December 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler
Norman Lear with Lionel Richie (left) and LL Cool J in 2017

Lear’s shows also launched the careers of Rob Reiner and Valerie Bertinelli and made middle-aged superstars of Carroll O’Connor, Bea Arthur and Redd Foxx.

All In The Family was based on the British TV comedy Till Death Us Do Part and was immersed in the headlines of the day, while also drawing upon Lear’s childhood memories of his tempestuous father.

By the end of 1971, All In The Family was number one in the ratings and character Archie Bunker was a pop culture fixture, with then-US President Richard Nixon among its fans.

The show covered hard-hitting topics like racism, feminism and the Vietnam War.

But Nixon objected to an episode about a close friend of Archie’s who turns out to be gay, privately fuming to White House aides that the show “glorified” same-sex relationships.

A 1972 episode of the spin-off series Maude also sparked protests as the title character became the first on television to have an abortion.

Lear created television well into his 90s, rebooting One Day At A Time for Netflix in 2017 and exploring income inequality for the documentary series America Divided in 2016.

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His success also enabled him to express his political beliefs beyond the small screen – he actively donated to Democratic candidates in the US.

In 2000, Lear and a partner bought a copy of the Declaration of Independence for $8.14m (£6.45m) and sent it on a cross-country tour.

Lear was also on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest people in America in 1986, with an estimated net worth of $225m (£178m).

But he did not make the cut the following year after a $112m (£88.7m) divorce settlement for his second wife, Frances.

He is survived by his third wife Lyn and his six children.

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Written by: radioroxi

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