I Met Norman Lear

... And I LOVED It!

I had no idea what I was going to write about for this week's column until last night when I met Mr. Norman Lear.

Okay, for those two of you who might not know who Norman Lear is let me quickly brief you.

All In the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day At A Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude...

I think you get the point.

This man is THE man behind all those legendary, groundbreaking television shows. His writing paved the way for all of us who have come after in hopes of writing comedy for television that takes risks, offends, inspires, and, above all, makes you laugh and forget about your troubles for 22 minutes.

I grew up watching Norman Lear's shows. Singing the theme songs, and spending time with Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, Ann Romano and, of course, Maude.

As an adult I have the privilege to write for a sit-com and I'll tell you, there's not a week that goes by where someone in the writer's room doesn't mention his name, his work, his ability to create humor from darkness.

So, last night as I attended the wedding of my oldest friend in the world, I got to meet Mr. Norman Lear. And I gushed over him as if he were Bradley Cooper.

You always worry that when you meet one of your hero's they will somehow disappoint you. Not in this case. Mr. Lear was as kind, humble, charming, real and witty as I hoped.

And at 90 years old all I could think was,

Dang, I wish he was single.

He said something to me that I haven't stopped thinking about.

"At your job, Susan... are older people still relevant?"

Here is a man who in one sentence is still asking the tough questions, fighting for the underdog, saying what so many won't.

Just like his shows did.

I was pleased to tell him I'm much older than I look and we winked at each other and laughed.

Thank you, Mr. Lear for helping raise me. Your shows came into my home at night as a child and, without me realizing it, taught me how to find the funny in hard times, learn about racism, alcoholism, divorce, poverty, rape and, what would become a big part of my adult life... being a single mom. 

And you did it all through tears of laughter.

Yes, indeed, sir... older people are still very, very relevant.

Mike Szymanski February 25, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Anything of substance that our family every discussed can directly be attributed to Maude or All in the Family or any Norman Lear show.... first time we ever saw a gay person on tv, Mom, what is abortion...all the talks were sparked from there...too bad that his shows would probably never get produced today...?
Rich Addams February 25, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Norman Lear could NEVER get his work done today, and maybe Susan McMartin's show is one of the closest scripted comedies that does get edgy with issues like bisexuality and drug abuse mentioned in what is supposed to be light comedy. Good thing she's on that team of writers.
Kelly Lester (EasyLunchboxes) February 26, 2013 at 12:51 AM
A beautiful tribute post to an amazing gentleman Susan. I hope he'll get to read it!
SoCalMan February 26, 2013 at 11:03 AM
I didn't realize he was still alive. So many of those shows ran years ago I assumed he was one of the greats that we'd already lost just as many of the stars in those shows have passed on.
Susan McMartin February 26, 2013 at 03:17 PM
mike, it was the same in my house.
Susan McMartin February 26, 2013 at 03:17 PM
thanks, rich!
Susan McMartin February 26, 2013 at 03:18 PM
thanks, kelly! i hope so too!
Susan McMartin February 26, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Very alive!!
John Emerson March 07, 2013 at 03:05 AM
What a thrill that must have been to meet Norman Lear! His writing verified the truths that we were trying to teach our daughter when she was growing up. He helped a whole generation evolve. Now as a Teacher she is spreading equality among her 2nd graders in Oklahoma, where it is needed. Comedy can be the "Spoonful of Sugar"that helps the truth go down!
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