7:00am PT by Chris Gardner
Norman Lear's Birthday Wish Was His Own Towel
Norman Lear’s career dates back to the 1950s, and he’s received armfuls of awards including three Emmys. But on the eve of his 96th birthday on July 27, Lear told The Hollywood Reporter that there was only one thing in life that he desperately desired to unwrap on his big day.
“I want a towel,” he explained, seated on a sofa (next to daughter Kate, who was visiting from New York) inside Sunset Tower’s Terrace Bar ahead of AARP’s first-ever TV for Grownups Honors, where he was feted by One Day at a Time star Rita Moreno. “I don’t have a towel. Can you believe it? I’m 96 years old and I don’t have a towel. I want a towel that belongs to me and only me, and everyone knows it belongs to me and it will only sit on my towel rack.”
He wasn’t kidding, but he hopes the towel comes with jokes. “I’d also love a towel with a sense of humor. Oh my God, that would be nice with my monogram on it, too.”
Lear admitted that he’s only celebrating his special day with three events — two dinners and a brunch — but don’t try asking him where or when. “No,” he says, bluntly, refusing to give restaurant names. He would, however, talk politics. “Do you have a hero? I don’t have a hero. Nobody is talking to me about anybody they care about,” he offered, before adding that there is one man whom he admires. “I look to George Clooney. He’s terrific. He cares. He’s out there, and he’s always leading when he puts himself in that position.”
Just took a few minutes for an interview with Norman Lear (here with his daughter visiting from NYC) who told me the 1 thing he really wants for his 96th birthday. I’m not telling but it’s very funny and I may just buy it for him. It’s good. #TVForGrownups pic.twitter.com/osZ800GEeq— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) July 25, 2018
Words of wisdom from honoree Norman Lear who says a man once said that a man should have two pieces of paper on him. In one pocket, it says I am but dust and ash, and the other, the world was created for me. #TVForGrownups @AARP pic.twitter.com/1t1pPyGRzp— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) July 25, 2018
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.