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Norman Lear Remembered: Jennifer Aniston, Fran Drescher & Barbra Streisand Join In Praise Of An Icon Who Inspired

Refresh for updates: Hollywood writers, actors and producers were quick to pay tribute to Norman Lear today as news of his death spread through the artistic community.

“He was the kindest and gentlest man,” Jennifer Aniston wrote in a lengthy Instagram post. “When you were in his presence, you were the only one in the room. He made everyone feel this.”

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“Goodnight Norman,” tweeted Jon Stewart. “Love you. Thanks for raising me.”

In a statement provided to Deadline, George Clooney wrote, “It’s hard to reconcile that at 101 years old, Norman Lear is gone too soon. The entire world of reason just lost its greatest advocate and our family lost a dear friend. A giant walked in his shoes.”

Steven Canals, the co-creator of Pose – the type of groundbreaking series that can trace its lineage directly to Lear’s trendsetting ’70s shows – wrote, “I never introduced myself to Norman Lear, but was in the same room as him twice. Both times he spoke, and his words were profound. He talked about: creating art that challenges & taking risks. Thank you, sir, for creating indelible stories that inspired me as a boy & as an adult. We all benefit from your legacy.”

Al Jean, The Simpsons producer and writer, posted a message on social media accompanied by a drawing of Lear as seen on the longrunning animated series, writing, “Comedy colossus, tireless fighter for the little guy and a pleasure to know. Will be well and truly missed.”

John Leguizamo called Lear a “master of story telling and a healer through his shows! He is what all of showbiz should be aspiring to. He is the consummate creative producer we have long abandoned in the industry.”

Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson wrote, “My Goat. What a life. Rest well, Norman Lear.”

Gloria Calderón Kellett, the co-creator with Lear of the One Day at a Time, wrote, “Thank you for everything. I know you’re making them laugh up there.”

See those and more reactions below… Deadline will update this post as additional tributes arrive.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher I grew up watching Norman Lear sitcoms that made me think and question so much about the way we look and feel about a myriad of topics that were never a part of comedy. He took real issues and made them a part of sitcom families, and he showed life as it was. Not white-washed, not oppressed, but real, for young people, for women, for people of color, for people with and without money. The first time I worked for him, the first day of the reading of the script, I was late and I was so nervous. I walked into the room, everybody was sitting around the table, and I said, ‘I’m so sorry that I’m late,’ and Norman said, ‘That’s ok, anyone that can look that good at this hour of the morning deserves to be late,’ and I never forgot his generosity and his brilliant need to elevate people and to think differently with a greater capacity for understanding each other. I saw him as recently as one year ago when I was being honored at the Hollywood Museum and he was presenting. We sat together and talked about so many things. I marveled at how sharp his mind still was even at a few months shy of 100 years old. He was a great man, a great producer, and a great American who will be greatly missed but long remembered.

GLAAD Norman Lear was a true pioneer whose legacy will forever be connected to including LGBTQ characters on television when no one else would. With storylines on All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, the new One Day at a Time, and the upcoming Clean Slate starring Laverne Cox, Lear humanized the LGBTQ community for the millions of people who tuned in to watch his shows. Norman Lear made it a priority to champion LGBTQ creators and he pushed Hollywood to follow in his groundbreaking footsteps.

Brian Grazer Norman Lear was a national treasure. He was more than a creator of groundbreaking television – he was a trailblazer who transformed how we watch and talk about entertainment for over 85 years and I will always be grateful for the impact he had in paving the way for so many of us in the industry. Not only do I have the utmost respect for his comedy work, but his fearless commitment to addressing critical social issues and including those narratives for audiences shaped my own approach to storytelling. Norman’s career wasn’t just influential, it was transformative, and his legacy will forever inspire generations to come. I will miss you Norman, my dear friend.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Norman Lear created families: not just the Bunkers of All In The Family, but the extended galaxies of families of casts and crews on every groundbreaking show he helped produce. So grateful when he called and asked me to co-produce a documentary about the life of our friend Rita Moreno, the easiest Yes of my life: ‘Lin, we gotta do this for Rita.’ ‘Yes sir.’ There will be so many words on how Norman made the world better in the days to come. They’re all true and they’re all underselling it. I’ll miss writing him birthday tunes every year. I’m grateful for every text and conversation we had. My heart is with his family and all the families he made.

CBS Norman Lear’s profound influence on television will never be forgotten. He was a creative icon whose comedic and courageous perspective on the America he loved had an immeasurable impact on our network, our viewers and television overall. His funny, realistic and fearless approach to storytelling rang true in his sharp writing and rich characters. He redefined the sitcom by introducing topics that had previously been avoided, including race, poverty and sexism. And he did it all with wit and heart, making it relatable to millions of Americans. Norman’s broad impact on our industry is surpassed only by his personal influence on the lives of the innumerable people he touched at every level of our business. He also remained a passionate advocate for equality and justice throughout his remarkable life. We extend our deepest condolences to Norman’s beloved family. His legacy will forever touch the medium we all love.

Writers Guild of America East Norman Lear’s commitment to storytelling and social justice made him a pioneer in television. His ability to use humor to combat racism and prejudices showed his sense of decency. And his charitable work exemplified what it means to use your influence to make the world a better place. Upon being honored at the 2015 Writers Guild Awards for bringing honor and dignity to writers, Lear said, “Nobody enjoyed a greater, larger, longer collaboration than I with dozens of brilliant writers.” We were lucky to call Norman Lear a peer. We were lucky to see his genius up close. We will miss him with all our hearts. Rest in Peace.

Bob Iger, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company: There are no words to fully express the monumental impact and legacy that Norman Lear leaves behind. He was an icon and the brilliant mind behind countless timely and meaningful shows that were full of heart and humor. He wasn’t afraid to take risks and was one of the most influential storytellers in television history. His passion went far beyond the screen as a veteran, philanthropist and social activist. Our hearts are with his wife, Lyn, his children and all those who knew and loved him. Norman, we thank you for the beautiful stories that transformed our industry and for making us laugh along the way.

Mark Ruffalo One of the all time great Humanists changed the world by being honest about the love, laughter, and troubles we all share. RIP Norman Lear, progressive King.

Jimmy Kimmel It is obviously silly to want more time with a person who outlived a whole century but losing Norman Lear, even at 101 years old, feels unfair. His bravery, integrity and unmatched moral compass were equaled by his kindness, empathy, and wit. Norman was very proud of the fact that the so-called Reverend Jerry Falwell dubbed him “The number one enemy of the American family”. The opposite was true. More than anyone before him, Norman used situation comedy to shine a light on prejudice, intolerance, and inequality. He created families that mirrored ours, showing us a world in which Archie Bunker and Michael Stivic could learn to not only co-exist, but to love one another. As a young man, Technical Sergeant Lear flew 52 combat missions over Nazi Germany. He continued to fight for freedom all the way to the end of his life on earth. Even at 101, Norman cared as much about the future, our children, and planet or as anyone I have ever known. He was a great American, a hero in every way and so funny, smart, and lovely man you almost couldn’t believe it. The privilege of working alongside Norman and the opportunity he gave me and my wife to get to know him and his beautiful family has been among the great honors and pleasures of my life. We were all very lucky to have him.

Brent Miller (President of Production, Act III Productions) It has been an absolute privilege and honor to be one of Norman’s many collaborators and partners. It has been thrilling and inspiring. He pushed us and inspired us every day to make entertainment that mattered. I will miss Norman’s wisdom, wit and friendship deeply. With the help and support of our partners at Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as many other talented collaborators – writers, actors, executives and crew – we were fortunate enough to make television history, over and over again. He will remain the guiding light at Act III Productions as we continue the shows already in production and move forward with those we imagined together. I already miss his laugh and the twinkle in his eye and our shared love of Bloody Marys. But as he always said… to be continued….

Tony Vinciquerra, Chairman and CEO Sony Pictures Entertainment We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend Norman Lear. A Founding Father in our industry, Norman and the shows he created defined what great television could be. Always entertaining, impactful, and fearless in addressing society’s most complex and difficult issues through humor, shows like “All In The Family,” “The Jeffersons,” and “One Day at a Time” set the standard for modern television audiences and paved the way for just about every great situation comedy or drama that has followed since. Norman will forever be recognized among the great television legends, and we are honored to have had him as part of the Sony family. It was always a such a joy having him with us on the lot, and I’m already missing being able to check in with him. Our hearts go out to Lyn and his family and all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.

George Clooney It’s hard to reconcile that at 101 years old, Norman Lear is gone too soon. The entire world of reason just lost its greatest advocate and our family lost a dear friend. A giant walked in his shoes.

Tyler Perry Not long ago I had the pleasure of meeting one of my heroes. He invited me to lunch at his home and as we sat and talked and laughed, I got a chance to tell him how he had helped save my life. I shared with him that he taught me to dream a bigger dream by his example. He was 100 years old at the time, but sharp as ever. Full of wisdom and great advice, and I took it all in. Just before I left, I asked, “At 100 years old what are you looking forward to?” Without any hesitation he said, “Tomorrow.” It was such a simple but powerful lesson to live your life fully one day at a time. And One Day at a Time just happened to be the name of one of his many hit TV shows along with Maude, All in The Family, Good Times, Sanford and Son and so many other incredible shows. They were the only thing that brought laughter and joy to me as a child, who was living a daily nightmare. I’m so glad that I had the chance to say to him, thanks to his vision and his work, he gave me many “tomorrows” to look forward to. So today, sadly, I say goodbye and I salute a veteran. One who asked me to help put together a moment for him to say thank you to the surviving Redtail Tuskegee Airmen, he wanted to thank them for the escorts they provided him and others during World War II, which I did with Robin Roberts on GMA. It felt good to be able to do something for him.

A hero and someone who inspired me to try and bring as much laughter to the world as he bought to the little boy that I was. You sir are truly one of one! I’m so glad we were on the planet at the same time. Thank you for your example. Rest in peace my dear friend, I thank God for you. My prayers are with your family.
Travel well, Mr. Norman Lear.

Jane Fonda Today is a very sad day. Norman Lear, a man who meant a lot to many on a personal level and who changed the face and soul of American comedy, has passed. My heart is heavy. I loved Norman.

Journey Gunderson, National Comedy Center Executive Director Norman Lear revolutionized the television landscape, pushed societal boundaries and transformed our culture with groundbreaking comedies that addressed serious issues and offered sharp social commentary while being remarkably funny — appealing to broad audiences for over five decades. He was a creative pioneer and true genius, who believed strongly in the power of laughter to unite us and supported the non-profit mission of the National Comedy Center. We are proud to celebrate his extraordinary work for generations to come.

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