Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film, and as a political and social activist and philanthropist. Mr. Lear began his television-writing career in 1950 when he and his partner, Ed Simmons, were signed to write for “The Ford Star Revue”, starring Jack Haley. After only four shows, they were hired away by Jerry Lewis to write for him and Dean Martin on “The Colgate Comedy Hour,” where they worked until the end of 1953.
He was nominated for an Academy Award® in 1967 for his script for “Divorce American Style.” In 1970, CBS signed with Tandem to produce “All in the Family”, which first aired on January 12, 1971 and ran for nine seasons. It earned four Emmy® Awards for Best Comedy series as well as the Peabody Award in 1977. “All in the Family” was followed by a succession of other television hit shows including “Maude,” “Sanford and Son,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons,” “One Day at a Time,” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”
In 1980, Mr. Lear formed People for the American Way, a non-profit organization designed to speak out for Bill of Rights guarantees and to monitor violations of constitutional freedoms. He has founded other nonprofit organizations, including the Business Enterprise Trust (1989-2000); the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication (2000-present); and with his wife, Lyn, co-founded the Environmental Media Association (1989-present), to mobilize the entertainment industry to become more environmentally responsible.
In 1999, President Clinton bestowed the National Medal of Arts on Mr. Lear, noting that “Norman Lear has held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it.” He has the distinction of being among the first seven television pioneers inducted in the Television Academy Hall of Fame (1984).
In 2003, Mr. Lear launched Declare Yourself, a nonpartisan youth voter initiative that registered well over four million new young voters in the 2004, 2006, 2008 elections.