Norman Lear, one of the most famous names in sitcoms, has an estimated net worth of $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. He is known best for his 70s hits including “Maude,” “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons,” and “Sanford and Son.”
Lear is being recognized for his voluminous career at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards, where he will receive the third-ever Carol Burnett Award. The awards ceremony airs at 8 p.m. Eastern time and 5 p.m. Pacific time Sunday, February 28, 2021 on NBC.
“Norman Lear is among the most prolific creators of this generation,” Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Ali Sar told Variety. “His career has encompassed both the Golden Age and Streaming Era, throughout which his progressive approach addressing controversial topics through humor prompted a cultural shift that allowed social and political issues to be reflected in television. His work revolutionized the industry and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is honored to name him as the 2021 Carol Burnett Award recipient.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lear’s First Writing Gig Was With His Cousin, Ed Simmons, & They Earned $52,000 Apiece on Comedy Writing
Lear served in World War II in the Air Force and then left the military to start a career in public relations. He moved to Los Angeles with his first wife, Charlotte Rosen, hoping to find more career opportunities. However, he soon decided public relations was not the career he wanted to pursue and teamed up with his cousin, Ed Simmons, to pursue a career in comedy.
“They eventually wrote skits for acts like Rowan and Martin and Martin and Lewis. In 1953, Norman and Ed were earning a record-breaking $52,000 a piece (the same as $500,000 in today’s dollars) to write on three Martin and Lewis comedy specials,” Celebrity Net Worth reported.
Simmons also went onto develop a highly successful solo sitcom writing career. When Lear moved to New York, Simmons remained in Los Angeles. He was best known for “The Carol Burnett Show.” He died in 1998 at age 78 after a heart attack, according to his IMDB profile.
2. The ‘All in the Family’ Characters Were Inspired By Lear’s Own Parents
Lear’s own parents served as an inspiration for the matriarch and patriarch of “All in the Family.” Lear was born in July 1992 in New Haven, Connecticut to Jeanette and Hyman “Herman” Lear, a travelling salesman. When Norman Lear was 9, his dad was sentenced to prison time for selling fake bonds, according to Celebrity Net Worth. He served a three-year sentence.
Lear told The Hollywood Reporter that Edith and Archie were meant to be relatable, and he believes the legacy was a lasting one.
My favorite part of laughter is how it brings people together. I’ve stood behind an audience thousands of times and watched them when they’re really laughing, the way they come out of their seats and go forward and then fall back. There isn’t a more spiritual wave of humanity based on what they’re feeling at the moment. It has everything in the world to do with gratitude and affection and so forth. They’re loving the moment that they’re experiencing as one. The way I’m describing it to you, I’ve done it reflexively, I just haven’t expressed it. I can’t think of anything that makes me feel better than watching an audience in the middle of a belly laugh.
3. Lear Sold His Production Company in 1985 in Exchange for Coca-Cola Shares & Earned About $600 Million in Today’s Dollars
Lear and Jerry Perenchio bought Avco Embassy Pictures in 1982, and resold it three years later. They made a deal with Columbia pictures in 1985 to sell the company in part for $485 million in shares of The Coca-Cola Company. Celebrity Net Worth reported their earnings, before taxes and adjusted for inflation, was about $600 million apiece.
A 1985 archived story from The Hollywood Reporter further explained the deal.
“Both Embassy and Tandem are privately owned by Norman Lear and Jerry Perenchio. The two, along with others who hold interest in the company’s three loosely held divisions (pictures, television and home entertainment) will divide about $195 million cash (less debt) with the balance offered in the form of Coca-Cola common stock. Coke closed yesterday on Wall Street at $68.87 per share,” it said.
Lear went on to form Act III Communications in 1986, producing movies including “The Sure Thing,” “Stand By Me,” “The Princess Bride” and “Fried Green Tomatoes.”
4. Lear Listed His Los Angeles Estate for $35 Million in 2020
Lear has listed his Los Angeles estate for a second time, listing it for $35 million in 2020, according to Realtor.com. The lavish estate, located in the Brentwood neighborhood, is a 14,000-square-foot mansion set on 8.29 acres. He was offered for $55 million for the property in 2015. He purchased the property in 1998 for $6.5 million.
He has adjusted the listing price several times over the years. In 2016, he dropped the price to about $49 million, and reduced the price again to slightly below $40 million in the same year. He listed it again in 2019 for about $40 million.
Norman and Lyn Lear made adjustments to the property including adding a guesthouse with a jacuzzi and an outdoor kitchen, a tennis court, staff offices, a gym, and a 35-car garage underneath the tennis court.
They completed a full renovation of the house beginning around 2018. They repainted the white exterior, refreshed the bedrooms and bathrooms, added new flooring, and installed additional windows.
“It’s so much lighter,” listing agent Andreas Elsenhans, with Douglas Elliman, told Realtor.com. “It’s much more classic modern.”
5. Frances Lear, Norman Lear’s Ex-Wife, Used Part of Her $100 Million Divorce Settlement to Found a Feminist Magazine
When Norman Lear met Frances, she was 32 and had already been divorced twice. They were married for 28 years before their divorce. She won a $112 million divorce settlement, which she used to found a feminist magazine, “Lear’s,” aimed at women over 40. Its slogan was “for the woman who wasn’t born yesterday.”
“I didn’t get that without earning it. Believe me, I earned it,” she told the Associated Press in 1992.
Frances Lear led a difficult life marked by childhood trauma. She had bipolar disorder, struggled with alcoholism and survived suicide attempts. Norman Lear was drawn to her struggles, he wrote in his memoir, “Even This I Get to Experience.”
“Everything I knew about her difficult and colorful life before I appeared at her front door fascinated me,” he wrote.
She spoke to the Associated Press about the abuse she suffered and overcame.
“A survivor has become a word that refers to anyone who’s gotten through a difficult experience,” she said. “A prevailer is someone who gets through it and goes onto the next stage of life.”