Legendary TV producer Norman Lear celebrates his 92rd birthday today! From his early years writing for top television comics like Martha Raye, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Danny Kaye and many others, Lear worked his way -- mostly through the power of laughter -- into creating his own TV empire. His string of hits is long and vital, and though you may think that all his shows were politically-provocative material such as All in the Family or Maude, you might have forgotten that he also put his writing/producing imprimatur -- and that of his various production entities -- on a slew of fairly mainstream shows.
We highly recommend reading about Norman Lear's long and distinguished life, including his WWII experience and his prodigious show business career. You should check out Norman Lear's own website by clicking here and look into the incredibly interesting work being done on the subject of entertainment's impact at USC Annenberg The Norman Lear Institute (Click Here) in Los Angeles. He sat down for a five-hour interview -- not nearly enough time! -- at the Archive of American Television, available by clicking here. Mr. Lear is also a dedicated political activist who founded People for the American Way and sponsored a nationwide tour of one of the rare copies of the Declaration of Independence a few years ago.
What we're going to show you is a collection of the opening credits from a wide selection of Mr. Lear's output, both the shows most connected with him and others that he helped create or produced and distributed through his companies. You might be surprised at some of the titles. We're undoubtedly missing a few that should be in but it's quite a bunch in any case. (For more info on many of the comedies, Sitcoms Online is a terrific source).
Did you know Lear co-created Henry Fonda's half-hour western The Deputy in 1959?
Of course, Lear's groundbreaking All in the Family from 1972 and its rebirth in Archie Bunker's Place in 1979: We also recommend this great article from The New Yorker about AitF & Lear, click here:
Sanford and Son, 1972:
Good Times, 1974:
The Jeffersons, 1975:
Hot L Baltimore (promo), 1975:
One Day at a Time, 1975:
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, 1976:
The Dumplings, 1976:
All That Glitters (promo), 1977 -- theme song here:
Fernwood Tonight (full episode), 1977:
America 2 Night (full episode), 1978:
Diff'rent Strokes, 1978:
The Facts of Life, 1979:
Palmerstown (promo), 1980:
The Baxters, 1980:
Silver Spoons, 1982:
Square Pegs, 1982:
Who's the Boss, 1984:
a.k.a. Pablo, 1984
Sunday Dinner, 1991:
The Powers That Be (scenes from), 1992 -- theme song here:
704 Hauser, 1994:
Channel Umptee-3, 1997:
We'll close with this wonderful clip of Carroll O'Connor:
Happy Birthday to Norman Lear, a great creative force and a great American!