Norman Lear is widely known for creating some of the most iconic television sitcoms in American television history. His accomplishments and contributions in the television industry are too many to count. He has created several movements and organizations that have been a part of establishing his legacy. Norman Lear as a creator, activist and producer has had significant impact on America, and it shows through his life’s work.
Lear’s legacy started in media, specifically television. However, he has also made contributions to the film industry as a producer and writer. He is most well known for being the Executive Producer on films such as Fried Green Tomatoes
and The Princess Bride.
He also wrote the screenplay for the film Divorce American Style for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Lear’s strongest contribution to media is the overwhelming influence he had on American television. He pushed boundaries that had never been broken and created humor where there had always been hate.
He created shows such as Sanford and Son, Good Times, Maud, The Jeffersons and most significantly All in the Family.
All in the Family was a sitcom that lasted for nine seasons and won four Emmy awards. The show focused on Archie Bunker, a working class man who continuously shared his point of view. The show dealt with issues that were previously blacklisted and deemed unsuitable for network television. Some Issues that were used to fuel the show were race, religion, homosexuality, abortion and the Vietnam War. Not only did the show push the boundaries of what was acceptable on network television, it created situations where the material was humorous and relatable to the audience. The show ended up feeling more like a play because most of the scenes were in one central location. This made the flow of the show feel authentic and have a substantial amount of impact on its viewers. The cultural impact of the show is still recognized today in current television.
One of the most obvious references can be seen in the television show Family Guy.
It opens the same way as All in the Family, with two people sitting at a piano singing about traditional values.
All in the Family also perfected something brand new in television: the spin off. The show created so many interesting characters and story lines that Norman Lear saw the opportunity to create and produce several successful shows in the same universe of Archie Bunker’s family. The most significant spin off was the show The Jeffersons, which is the story of Archie’s next door neighbors. The Jeffersons lasted eleven seasons, and the character George Jefferson became known as the “black Archie Bunker”, who was just as racist as Archie. Without the impact of this show, it would be hard to imagine how television could have progressed in the same way as it has.
Lear was not only a successful television writer and producer, he had a passion for his home country of America. In 2001, Lear purchased an original copy of the Declaration of Independence for $8.1 million.
He continued to demonstrate his passion through a campaign he started in early July of 2001 called the “Declaration of Independence Road Trip,” which focused on bringing one of the surviving twenty-five copies of the Declaration of Independence to the American people. The road trip lasted three and a half years and included stops at the thirty-seventh Super Bowl and the 2002 Winter Olympics. Lear is also an advocate for the Democratic party and created a campaign named “Declare Yourself.” The goal of this campaign was to encourage young people to vote and be responsible Americans.
Lear has also contributed to the American public by creating several impactful organizations. In 1981 Lear founded “People For the American Way,” which is a modern liberal progressive advocacy group. This organization’s goal is to see that Americans continuously enjoy their freedoms of equality, speech and the right to follow their own American dream. Lear also founded “The Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication”.
The goal of the organization is dedicated to exploring the convergence of entertainment, commerce and society. Finally, Lear is credited with founding the “Business Enterprise Trust,” which only lasted from 1989 to 2000. All of these organizations are significant additions to the legacy of Norman Lear.
Norman Lear is a man of brilliance, guts and pure passion. He has influenced Americans in ways that few people ever could. His contributions to American television will leave a lasting impression on the world. His love of America does not go unnoticed with his willingness to express his right of free speech and courageous story telling. It is because of this that Norman Lear will be forever remembered as an influential American figure.
“All in the Family.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_in_the_Family>.
“Awards.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005131/ awards?ref_=nm_awd>.
“The Norman Lear Center: About.” The Norman Lear Center: About. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http://www.learcenter.org/html/about/?cm=lear>.
“The Norman Lear Center: Projects Array( [path] = /html/projects/ [query] = Cm=doi).” The Norman Lear Center: Projects Array( [path] = /html/projects/ [query] = Cm=doi). N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http://www.learcenter.org/html/projects/?cm=doi>.
“Norman Lear.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Nov. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Lear>.
“People For the American Way.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_For_the_American_Way>.