Plugging his 2017 documentary film, “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast,” Carl Reiner had his old friends Norman Lear and Dick Van Dyke come over to be interviewed by CBS Sunday Morning’s Tracy Smith. “They constitute a team of GOLDEN BOYS — older, yes, but no less amusing.”
“The culture has age all wrong,” Lear said. “The culture sells age as utterly going down. Well, it’s the expression, ‘Going downhill.’ And he woke up this morning to come here feeling great. I woke up this morning, I couldn’t wait to get here to see these guys! It’s not ‘downhill!'”
Reiner died in June 2020, but Lear and Van Dyke are still going strong.
I watched much of the output of producer Norman Lear. Here’s a paragraph from his IMDB page. “Born in 1922 in New Haven, Connecticut, Lear flew 52 combat missions over Europe in World War II before beginning his television career. His classic shows of the 1970s and ’80s – All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, among others – collectively reached as many as 120 million viewers per week and are said to have transformed the American cultural landscape, bringing the social and political issues of the day into American living rooms for the first time.”
Yes, I saw all of those, both iterations of One Day At A Time, and more obscure shows such as Hot L Baltimore (1975). Possibly my favorite of his lesser-known programs is The Powers That Be: “The exploits of a clueless American senator and the eccentric, morally corrupt people who are closest to him.” It was the launching pad for several well-known performers.
Even before All In The Family, I saw the movie The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968), produced by Lear.
He has a trove of awards, including five Emmys. But also the National Medal of Arts (1999), the GLAAD Media Award (2014), a Peabody Lifetime Achievement Award (2017), and the Kennedy Center Honors (2017).
“With the rise of the radical religious right, Lear put his career on hold in 1980 to found People For the American Way, the nonprofit organization that remains a relevant and effective force defending all aspects of the First Amendment.”
Indeed, it’s from his organization that I get messages from Norman on a regular basis.
From December 2021: “Progress can feel painfully slow on issues we care about. And sometimes we even see hard-won progress being rolled back. On my 99th birthday, the Washington Post ran an op-ed that I wrote expressing my bewilderment that some politicians are still trying to make it harder for people to vote.
“I’m hoping that by my 100th birthday we will have renewed a strong federal commitment to voting rights. “
From Memorial Day weekend 2022: “When I joined with Rep. Barbara Jordan and others to create People For the American Way, we felt it was important to give people a way to join with others in asserting that this country belongs to all of us. No one is more American on account of their religion or skin color – or where they were born or who they love.
“Some days the bad news feels overwhelming. The violence and contempt and dishonesty can be so dispiriting. Those are the days we need each other the most. Those are the days I remind myself to be grateful that there are so many of us who have made a commitment to making a difference.”
Then a pitch to donate to People For The American Way. Happy birthday, Norman Lear.