Norman Lear: 2018-2019 Recipient

Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film, political and social activism, and philanthropy. At 96, Norman Lear has no plans to retire and his ACT III Productions banner recently signed a first look deal with Sony Pictures Television. Lear serves as executive producer for the critically acclaimed One Day At A Time on Netflix, the award-winning docuseries America Divided (Epix), and he is currently developing an animated series with Nickelodeon, called Man of the House.

His memoir, Even This I Get to Experience, was published in 2014, and the 2016 biographical documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You received an Emmy nomination as the representative program for the PBS American Masters series. From July 2017 - July 2018, Lear celebrated his 95th birthday by hosting a limited podcast series, All of the Above with Norman Lear.

Born in 1922 in New Haven, Connecticut, Lear flew 52 combat missions over Europe in World War II before beginning his television career. His iconic 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 for the first time social and cultural issues of the day into America’s living rooms.

With the rise of the radical religious right, Lear put his television career on hold in 1980 to found People For the American Way with the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, and a group of business, civic, religious, and civil rights leaders who were disturbed by the divisive rhetoric of newly politicized televangelists. Today the organization is over one million members strong and continues to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values under attack, including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

Lear was among the first group of television pioneers inducted in 1984 into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. In 1999 President Clinton presented him with the National Medal of Arts, noting, “Norman Lear has held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it.” In 2017 Lear was a Kennedy Center Honoree and received a Peabody Lifetime Achievement Award. The following year, the city of Boston designated October 4, 2018 as “Norman Lear Day.”

He is the father of six, the grandfather of four, and the husband of Lyn Davis Lear.

Norman Lear, provided