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Norman Lear dies at 101

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Norman Lear dies at 101Norman Lear, the boundary-pushing television writer whose sitcoms changed the face of popular culture in the 20th century, died Tuesday. He was 101.

An Air Force veteran who served in World War II before creating “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons,” “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and “One Day at a Time,” Lear played an essential role in transitioning TV comedies from idealistic escapism to honest portraits of American life.

Sitcoms were forever changed when Lear’s shows found success in the 1970s. Gone, more or less, were the pat premises of “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Father Knows Best,” “I Love Lucy” and “Leave It to Beaver.” The blue-collar families in Lear’s programs sparred about the country’s political and social divides; they fretted about money, happiness, class, race, homosexuality, abortion, women’s rights, health concerns and bigotry.

At the time, Lear’s work forged a sly opposition to Richard Nixon, the Republican president who railed against progressivism. Today, such topics are embedded in the DNA of many sitcoms.

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