Mr. Lear demonstrated that it was possible to be current, humorous, and incredibly popular as the producer of numerous shows, including "All in the Family."
The television writer and producer Norman Lear, who popularized political and social commentary into situation comedies like "All in the Family" and other series and
demonstrated to audiences that current events could be both humorous and topical while drawing large audiences, passed away on Tuesday at his Los Angeles home. At 101 years old. Lara Bergthold, a family spokesman, verified the passing.
Through the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, Mr. Lear dominated the television industry, making a lasting impression with programs that popularized sitcoms. While "The Jeffersons" examined the challenges of an upwardly mobile Black family,
"Good Times" featured a very different Black family that faced discrimination and poverty. While the lead character in "Maude" was a vocal feminist, the lead character in "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" struggled with a variety of contemporary issues, not the least of which was her own neurosis.
"If you watched television in those years, which are the mid- to late-1960s," Mr. Lear remarked in a 2012 New York Times interview, "the biggest issue any family had was 'Mother dented the car, and how do you keep Dad from finding out,' or 'the boss is coming to dinner, and the roast is ruined.'" The word that was being spread was that there were no issues.
The messages conveyed by Mr. Lear's performances were distinct and far more in line with the real events of those tumultuous times. His most famous work was "All in the Family," and the star of that program and one of the most enduring characters in television history, Archie Bunker, was his greatest invention.
Memorably portrayed by Carroll O'Connor, Archie was an unrepentant bigot who seemed to be constantly enraged at one minority group or another (and usually at least one family member as well). Despite his misguided enthusiasm, malaprops, and mangled syntax, Archie was also oddly endearing.