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Sharing Sad News about Norman Lear ’44: An Emerson and Cultural Icon

Dear Emerson community members,

Our College and our country have lost a great American icon – Emersonian and trailblazer in the television industry, Norman Lear ’44. The creator of some of the most groundbreaking TV shows of the 1970s and 1980s, including All in the Family and The Jeffersons, to name a few, Norman passed away yesterday surrounded by his family. He was 101.

Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, loved ones, and the many members of our community who were touched by his generosity, comedic genius, and commitment to social justice. 

I personally remember watching Norman’s shows on television as a child and, along with my family, was significantly impacted by the serious social topics they addressed and the hysterical stories and characters through which they were delivered.  

Norman Lear personified what Emersonians strive to do – change the world through our stories and our voices. And he did it so very well over more than six decades.

Norman, who received an Honorary Degree from Emerson in 1968, was a longtime friend of the College. 

Over the years, he returned to Emerson many times (you can read about his longstanding connection to Emerson on Emerson Today). During his last visit to the Boston campus in 2018, the College honored him with a statue in Boylston Place and a scholarship in his name. The City of Boston also proclaimed that day Norman Lear Day. I know many of you will remember that event fondly.

We are all grateful to Norman Lear for his vision that forever changed television and the entertainment industry and for his generosity to Emerson College. His kindness and the creativity he inspired – and continues to inspire – will forever live on here at Emerson, his beloved alma mater


Jay Bernhardt,

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