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Norman Lear Biography

Birth Name:
Norman Milton Lear
Birth Place:
New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Producer, writer, director

Fast Facts

  • As a high-school senior, won an American Legion oratorical contest for a speech about what the U
  • S
  • Constitution meant to him
  • Was an Army Air Force radioman during WWII; flew 56 missions and received an Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters
  • Began his show-business career in the early 1950s writing gags for Danny Thomas; later wrote Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin's material for NBC's Colgate Comedy Hour
  • Modeled Bea Arthur's Maude character after his ex-wife Frances Lear
  • Cofounded People for the American Way, a civil-liberties advocacy organization, in 1981
  • Was an inaugural inductee into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1984 (along with Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, Paddy Chayefsky, Edward R
  • Murrow, William S
  • Paley and David Sarnoff)
  • Purchased a Dunlap broadside, an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, for $8
  • 1 million in 2001; it has been on display around the U
  • S
  • ever since
  • In 2004, founded Declare Yourself, a nonprofit, nonpartisan campaign to encourage young adults to vote in political elections
  • In 2009, started the Born Again American campaign, which promotes citizenship and activism
  • Owns Act III Communications, a multimedia holding company
  • Supports a variety of nonprofit organizations (including Habitat for Humanity, Heal the Bay and Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles) through the Lear Family Foundation


  • 1991Emmy-Outstanding Informational Special: nominated
  • 1985Emmy-Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special: nominated
  • 1982Emmy-Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program: nominated
  • 1977Peabody-Personal Award: winner
  • 1976Emmy-Outstanding Comedy Series: nominated
  • 1974Emmy-Outstanding Comedy Series: nominated
  • 1973Emmy-Outstanding New Series: nominated
  • 1973Emmy-Outstanding Comedy Series: nominated
  • 1972Emmy-Outstanding Series - Comedy: winner
  • 1971Emmy-Outstanding New Series: winner
  • 1971Emmy-Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy: nominated
  • 1971Emmy-Outstanding Series - Comedy: winner
  • 1968Writers Guild Awards-Comedy: nominated
  • 1967Oscar-Best Writing (Story and Screenplay--written directly for the screen): nominated