TV legend Norman Lear dies at 101

Norman Lear, whose influential Hollywood career spanned both the golden age and the streaming era, died Tuesday at 101 years old. 

Lear's death was confirmed on his official website

Lear made TV relevant by tackling racism, feminism and other social issues that had been taboo on screen before he and then-partner Bud Yorkin broke through with "All in the Family." He received a wealth of awards and honors throughout his decades-long career, and was also politically active off the screen and founded several nonprofit organizations.

Before his Hollywood career began, Lear served in World War II in the U.S. Air Force as a radio operator and gunner. He flew 52 combat missions over Europe.

Upon returning home, he began writing and producing programs like "The Colgate Comedy Hour" and "The Martha Raye Show," eventually captivating 120 million viewers per week with his iconic shows of the 1970s and ‘80s.


TV show creator Norman Lear at home, February 27, 1984 in Los Angeles, California. Lear died Dec. 5, 2023 at 101 years old. (Photo by Bob Riha Jr/Getty Images)

His career championed television diversity with hit comedies such as "Maude," "Good Times," "The Jeffersons" and "One Day at a Time." The latter was rebooted in 2017 by Lear and a new team of producers, this time with the focus on a Latino family.

Lear was politically active off the screen and as a proponent of civic responsibility, which included buying a copy of the Declaration of Independence that drove a youth voter registration initiative.

He and his wife, Lyn Lear, purchased one of the few surviving original copies of the document in 2001. During the decade they owned it, they shared it with the American people by touring it to all 50 states, according to his official website. As part of the Declaration of Independence Road Trip, Lear launched Declare Yourself, a nonpartisan youth voter initiative that registered over four million new young voters in the 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections.


Producer Norman Lear at home, February 27, 1984 in Los Angeles, California. Lear died Tuesday at 101 years old. (Photo by Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images)

He also founded multiple nonprofits, including People for the American Way, and founded the Lear Family Foundation with his wife to support a wide range of nonprofit organizations across the country.

Lear received a wealth of awards and honors: He was part of the inaugural group of inductees to the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1984, has six Emmy Awards, and received a Peabody Lifetime Achievement Award and a National Medal of Arts.


Producer Norman Lear attends the 33rd Annual Imagen Awards at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on August 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)

In 2021, Lear received the Carol Burnett Award, given annually to honor someone "who has made outstanding contributions to television on or off the screen."

"I am convinced that laughter adds time to one’s life, and nobody has made me laugh harder, nobody I owe more time to, than Carol Burnett," he said, speaking by video from a living room armchair, upon receiving the award.

"I’ve had a lifetime of partners, performers, associations and creative talents for which I am eternally grateful," Lear said, adding there would be "an entirely different Norman Lear here with you tonight" without them.

When he was 99 years old, his official website stated Lear had "no plans to retire."

He and his wife lived in Los Angeles, California. He had six children and four grandchildren.

He turned 101 in July 2023. 

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.