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Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Norman Lear

On Wednesday night ABC is putting on live episodes of Norman Lear’s All In The Family and The Jeffersons with all-star casts, including Woody Harrelson as Archie Bunker, and Jamie Foxx as George Jefferson. To celebrate Lear, one of Emerson’s most beloved alums, we’re giving you 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Norman Lear.

  1. Lear won an American Legion oratory scholarship to go to college. As a Jew, he spoke about the U.S. Constitution’s importance to minorities — foreshadowing his future interest in inclusion and defense of the U.S. Constitution.
  2. Lear was a member of Emerson College’s Class of 1944, which he left to serve in World War II.
  3. He served in the Army Air Force in World War II between 1942-45 and flew 52 combat missions.
  4. All in the Family was inspired by the British series Till Death Us Do Part (1965–75).
  5. All in the Family inspired the following spin-offs: Maude (1972), about Edith Bunker’s cousin, an outspoken liberal feminist; Good Times (1974), about Maude’s black maid and her family in an urban housing development, and The Jeffersons (1975), about the Bunkers’ black next-door neighbors who leave Queens to enjoy the upper-middle-class life in a high-rise apartment complex in Manhattan.
  6. In 1980, he founded a public interest group People For The American Way.
  7. He is godfather to actress Katey Sagal.
  8. “I’m just another version of you. The sooner we realize that we’re just versions of one another, the sooner we will come to understand that we are one.” Norman Lear quote on his statue at Emerson College in Boylston Place.
  9. He was the voice of Benjamin Franklin, “I’m a Little Bit Country,” South Park (animated), Comedy Central, 2003.
  10. At one point in his career, he had nine series running on television simultaneously.
  11. (Bonus fact!) In the year 2000, he bought a signed copy of the Declaration of Independence, and in the following years traveled to all 50 states on a self-declared Declaration of Independence Road Trip.

Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All In The Family and The Jeffersons is airing on ABC 9 pm (EST) on Wednesday, May 22. Hear how Jimmy Kimmel came up with the idea to remake the classic TV shows:

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