UPDATE: 12/18/23 at 11:34 p.m. ET:
Lear died on December 5 after suffering from cardiopulmonary arrest, according to his death certificate, which was obtained by TMZ on Monday, December 18. The document also listed congestive heart failure as an underlying cause of death.
Original story below:
TV legend Norman Lear — who was the brains behind numerous ‘70s sitcoms, including All in the Family, The Jeffersons and Maude — has died at age 101.
Us Weekly can confirm that he passed at his home in Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 5, of natural causes.
“Thank you for the moving outpouring of love and support in honor of our wonderful husband, father, and grandfather,” Lear’s family shared 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’s name is synonymous with comedy television, which he helped mold with topical and groundbreaking sitcoms that defined the 1970s and beyond. As the creator of All in the Family — which garnered 55 Emmy nominations (and 22 wins) over its eight-year run — the producer changed the world of TV as viewers knew it, crafting a critically acclaimed and at times controversial series that boldly confronted racism, sexism, homophobia and more.
In the midst of the show’s success, the WWII vet developed Maude, the first spinoff of All in the Family. The sometimes-dark comedy — which ran for six seasons and starred Bea Arthur as the titular character — centered around Edith Bunker’s liberal cousin. Like its predecessor, the show broke barriers in terms of its content, most notably with the episode in which Maude chooses to have an abortion.
All in the Family’s second spinoff, The Jeffersons — based on Archie and Edith Bunker’s neighbors — went on to become not only one of the most successful spinoff series of all time, but also one of the longest-running sitcoms in television history with 11 seasons. The show was the first to feature an interracial couple.
In addition to All in the Family and its offshoots, Lear — who frequently peppered his social activism into his work — continued to strike more comedy gold on 1970s television, thanks to sitcoms like Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time and Good Times (which in itself was a spinoff of Maude).
Over the course of his decades-long career, the television pioneer — who celebrated his 100th birthday on July 27, 2022 — was the recipient of six Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe for his work on TV. In 1975, the Academy Award nominee received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Close to 10 years later, Lear became one of the first people inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was honored with the National Medal of Arts by then-President Bill Clinton.
In 2016, at the age of 94, Lear revealed his secret to living such a long life was laughter — and lots of it.
“I believe my longevity has depended a great deal on the amount of laughter I’ve had in my life,” the television producer explained on SuperSoul Sunday, reminiscing about hearing the studio audience roar. “I could cry thinking about this … When an audience laughs together ― every seat, side by side ― they tend to come up and out of their chairs a little, and down and back up again. I mean, that’s praying, that’s gratitude, that’s enjoyment.”
Growing older didn’t seem to phase him. “I think of myself as the peer of whoever I’m talking to,” he said at the time. “If I was sitting here talking to a 12-year-old, I’d be 12. That’s the way I would feel.”
Lear, who was married three times, is survived by his six children — Ellen, Kate, Maggie, Benjamin, Brianna and Madelaine — and his wife, Lyn Davis Lear, to whom he was married since 1987.