Television producer Norman Lear, who died last week at age 101, probably could not get away today with what he put on the small screen in the ’70s with his iconic sitcoms “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.” As Mel Brooks did in his movies “The Producers” and “Blazing Saddles,” L ear undermined the power of bigotry with humor.
Lear also had a political side. It was politics that brought us together in the’80s. He founded a group called People for the American Way, which was a counter to various groups on the Religious Right, including the Moral Majority, for which I was for a time a spokesman. We met in Washington when he graciously invited me to sit at his table and listen to his National Press Club speech. I joked if it might harm his career to be seen with me.
Lear was a World War II combat veteran. He told me he would fight in another war “if they would take me at my age” should America again be faced with a similar threat. He said he loves America.
In 1998 I interviewed him for my book, co-authored with Ed Dobson, titled “Blinded by Might: