Norman Lear ’44, who revolutionized television comedy and held a mirror up to American audiences, will accept the Carol Burnett Award during the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, February 28.
“Norman Lear is among the most prolific creators of this generation,” said Ali Sar, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which awards the Golden Globes. “His career has spanned the Golden Age and the streaming era. His progressive approach addressing controversial topics through humor prompted a cultural shift that allowed social and political issues to be reflected in television.”
The Carol Burnett Award, now in its third year, is given to someone who has made “outstanding contributions to the television medium on or off the screen.” Previous recipients are the award’s namesake, a comedy legend in her own right, and Ellen DeGeneres, who broke ground for LGBTQ performers and writers in TV.
From his beginnings selling sketches to comedy teams in the 1950s, Lear, 98, worked his way up through the writers’ ranks, eventually creating a string of sitcoms that tackled tough societal issues and practically defined television in the 1970s and early 1980s: All in the Family, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude, and One Day at a Time.
“Through Lear’s subtle influence, America became more liberal, more tolerant, a better country,” the HFPA said on their website.In addition to producing TV shows and movies (including Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me and The Princess Bride), Lear founded People for the American Way in order to fight intolerance, hate, and threats to democracy and supported financially a number of political and journalistic causes.
More recently, Lear published his memoir, Even This I Get to Experience, in 2014, and executive produced a reboot of his 1970s sitcom One Day at a Time, reimagined with a Cuban-American family, which streamed on Netflix from 2017-2019 and was picked up by Pop in its last season. For his contributions to television and culture, he was honored by the Kennedy Center and received a Peabody Award, both in 2017.
In 2019, Lear became the oldest person ever to win an Emmy Award when he took Outstanding Variety Special (Live) as executive producer of Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons,’ which recreated episodes of the sitcoms with new casts. Last year, he repeated his win for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times.’ Lear has six Emmys, 16 nominations, and was inducted into the Emmys Hall of Fame in 1984.
Lear executive produced an American Masters documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, premiering at Sundance this week, and currently is executive producing an animated version of Good Times for Netflix, the HFPA reports.
Since 2019, Emerson has awarded the Emerson College Norman Lear Scholarship to a talented and motivated student from a first-generation, underrepresented, and underserved background who is interested in a career writing for theatre, TV, film, or other genres.