Norman Lear's Birthday Wish Was His Own Towel

Rambling- Graphic - All Norman Lear Wants for His 96th Birthday-H 2018
Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images; ISTOCK

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.”

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.