“I have never lived alone. I have never laughed alone. And that has as much with me being here today as anything.”
Wise words from television legend Norman Lear who, at 99, received the Hollywood Foreign Press’s Carol Burnett Award for outstanding contributions to television, both on and off the screen. Lear is one of only three recipients of the honor, the others being Ellen DeGeneres and Burnett herself.
Lear started his acceptance by thanking Burnett before going on to an appreciation of his collaborators throughout the years including Bud Yorkin, Alan Horne, Jerry Perenchio and his current partner, Brent Miller. Lear also saluted Sony Pictures TV, calling it “one of the gutsiest, most able group of executives” he’s ever worked with.
The TV legend completed his thank you’s with a batch for wife Lyn Davis Lear and his children and grandchildren.
As he signed off, the TV legend returned again to Carol Burnett with a tribute of his own.
“As I think about you and laughter and the joy of our parallel careers,” he said before pausing to imitate Burnett’s signature ear lobe tug, “I’m so glad we had this time together.”
Lear was honored as “the most influential, progressive and revolutionary producer in TV history.”
Given that Lear created All in the Family, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude, One Day at a Time and Different Strokes, the honor is certainly merited.
Outside of Hollywood, Lear founded People for the American Way in 1981. The progressive advocacy organization fights right-wing extremism and works to build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. Encouraging civic participation, defending fundamental rights and fighting to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity are among its guiding principles.
In addition, Lear helped fund the legal defense of Daniel Ellsberg, subsidized the struggling liberal magazine The Nation and formed the Energy Action Committee to oppose Big Oil’s powerful lobby in Washington.
Chosen by the HFPA Board of Directors, the Carol Burnett Award is presented annually to an honoree who has made outstanding contributions to the television medium on or off the screen. As the television landscape continues to evolve with more thought-provoking programming, diverse roles, and best in class content, the HFPA established the Carol Burnett Award to celebrate the medium’s new Golden Age.
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