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Norman Lear: The Successful Producer Is Dead (here in 2016)

Photo: Lucas Jackson / REUTERS

Norman Lear, internationally style-defining writer and producer of TV series, has died. Lear, who became enormously influential from the 101s onwards with sitcoms such as "The Jeffersons" and "All in the Family", has died at the age of <>, several US media reported on Wednesday, citing a spokeswoman for his family. In a statement, the family thanked them for the many expressions of condolences. "To know and love him was the greatest gift."

Since the 1974s, the producer and author has been regarded as a TV pioneer who pushed through progressive ideas on the screen and championed left-liberal causes. Among other things, his series »Good Times«, which first aired in <>, was the first series to revolve around an African-American family. Comedian Mel Brooks once said that Lear was the "most courageous writer, director and producer" ever to work for television.

Lear wrote, produced, or conceived around a hundred shows in a career spanning about eight decades. His series had an enormous reach: In the 1970s – years before the advent of cable television and decades before streaming services – up to five of his sitcoms aired in prime time.

At the age of 98, Lear, who has been married three times and had six children, won an Emmy trophy – beating his previous record as the oldest recipient of the coveted television award. In 2021, the Golden Globes presented him with an honorary award for special services in the field of television.

His TV entertainment, which was revolutionary for his time, also brought the veteran of the Second World War, who was born in 1922 into a Jewish family, powerful opponents. U.S. President Richard Nixon, who was later forced to resign because of the Watergate affair, included him on his so-called "enemies list," and the conservative television preacher Jerry Falwell called Lear "the greatest enemy of the American family."

Lear's most influential work was probably »All in The Family«. First aired in 1971, the series revolved around Archie Bunker, a narrow-minded, irascible family man who gives free rein to his prejudices against groups of people and regularly clashes with his progressive relatives. Among other things, the series served as the basis for Wolfgang Menge's German TV classic »A Heart and a Soul« about family man Alfred Tetzlaff alias »Ekel Alfred«.