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Producer, author, businessman and political activist Norman Lear, whose hit shows include the ground-breaking 1970s comedy series All in the Family, will deliver the opening keynote at NATPE/Content First on Jan. 20, 2015.
In making the announcement Tuesday, NATPE CEO Rod Perth described Lear as “an American treasure,” adding it is “nearly impossible to describe Norman’s impact in terms of both creative television hits and catalyzing the national narrative about otherwise untouchable subjects.”
Added Perth: “For those of us who were in the business or just television viewers, his ability to combine humor and make all of us reexamine our own values was without equal.”
Lear, now 92 years old, recently published a well-received memoir entitled Even This I Get to Experience. It recounts his life, loves and long career first in TV and movies and then in politics and the arts.
Lear grew up in Connecticut and served with distinction in World War II in the Army Air Force, completing over 50 combat missions.
After the war he got his start in public relations before becoming a successful TV producer. In addition to All in the Family, his hit shows included Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times and One Day at a Time.
In the 1980s Lear turned to business and politics. With others he bought what became Embassy Pictures and formed other companies including Act III Communications, which owned movie theaters and TV stations.
Lear founded People for the American Way in 1981 to advocate for civil liberties and to counter what he perceived to be the inappropriate influence of the religious right.
He also co-founded the Environmental Media Association and through his donations and involvement created the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communications
In 2001, Lear and his third wife, Lynn, purchased an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, known as one of the Dunlap broadsides, for over $8 million. It has toured across the U.S. and been featured in everything from museums to the Super Bowl.
His many awards, besides four Emmys, include an Oscar nomination for writing Divorce, American Style; a Peabody Award; and the Humanist Arts Award from the American Humanist Association. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6615 Hollywood Blvd.
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