Transcript:

Speaker Norman has literally one of the most documented lives of anybody and in this country, I think we would find out and he has told me he's rent it out Beacon's warehouses full of boxes of of letters and all sorts of of of documents, of books and and videotapes and and DVDs of of shows that he's that he's been on and and letters that he's written back and forth to people and presidents and all sorts of individuals. And all through the years that he's been doing his shows and just been working. So he's kept everything. He's kept everything right.

Speaker So then we have an archive that has found so many appearances and comedy shows and interviews and it seemed like. The whole world has always wanted to talk to him. Since he broke into the business as a public figure, what is it that everybody is seeking from him and as someone who knows him like you do? What are they seeking from normal?

Speaker Well, that's a good question. I think it's also what he's been seeking to know about himself. And the reason he's kept everything, I think, is because he's wanted to know he's wanted to keep tabs on himself and know, you know, who he is in the process. But why everybody wants to know Norman is also a very important question. And they do. People just gravitate to Norman. They they love Norman and they want to know more about Norman. And and it's a fascinating individual kind of issue as to why people love him so much. And they they just do. And they this is to men love Norman as men. Women love Norman as a man. They just people just love him. And there's just something very charismatic about him that that he he's speaking. Children love Norman. I mean, you know, he's just got something very special about him that that is adorable.

Speaker And it seems also that people projecting we just, I think are maybe maybe our country doesn't have enough. Figures to be proud of like that, that over a long period of time, I'm starting to see that maybe, you know, we had a burst of celebrity or people that do this enough. But I mean, it's almost like a presence. He's been there.

Speaker Well, we were just in Cabo. Oh, I'm sorry. We were in Cancun with with some friends of ours for this friend has just turned 50. This guy that just turned 50 and his wife, their close friends and with about, I guess, 10, 15 other other people and other couples. And nobody wanted to have a cigar. And so the guys went out of their way to get cigars and a lot of them probably didn't even smoke cigars, but they all wanted to have a cigar with Norman. So so they sat outside and they all had cigars just to hang out with Norman. And it was just it was kind of fun, but it's got these 50 year old friends now that hang out with him. So, I mean, it's just the way it is. But it's fun.

Speaker So now how was that like I mean, I try to put myself in your shoes.

Speaker I wonder how I feel if everybody. From the beginning of when you met him, I don't want to say want something from me, or maybe they I mean, how does do you ever feel protective of like does he give away too much of himself? Just enough.

Speaker How do you as as the partner, as the confidant, as his best friend, how do you see that that desire of everyone to want him near them or something from him or how am I going to put it?

Speaker We work really well together. I mean, I don't I think we just work well together.

Speaker So I don't feel I mean, I feel the same way with with women and men and in a similar way. I mean, we're we're a good couple together. So I don't really feel protective. I mean, he can handle himself and then it doesn't bother me.

Speaker You're very chill. You're a very relaxed person, it seems like. Yes. I mean, things things as they come. Yeah, I think so. I think so.

Speaker Um, so I want to go back a little bit to the early part of your relationship when you first met.

Speaker We talked about it a little bit. I read through the transcript. I didn't get a lot, you know, that moment in time.

Speaker I mean, I know from a bit from Norman, I know from the book, I know from Kate there was when you met, you know, I think Norman was coming out of war, I guess what could be called an unhappy marriage at the time. Not, you know, it seemed like it was not a happy situation.

Speaker What did he what was he when you started a relationship with him? What was he bringing of that marriage?

Speaker And how hard was that to for you to bring him to into sort of a new way to look at a relationship?

Speaker Well, I mean, he had been separated on and off and but he had told me he was never going to leave Frances and so for me, that was well, I wasn't going to be staying because I wanted to get married and have children. So it was a struggle back and forth. And and I think I was probably the last to know that he was leaving. So I was moving on. It took about a year altogether by the time we met before he actually left. And so it was it was a difficult time, but we had fallen more and more in love. And I gather he just realized that he had to make a decision. And I think Francis made a lot of it for him. She moved to New York for she wanted him to move with her. And I guess he wasn't going to. And just things sort of happened and and that, you know, things just decided, you know, we're decided for him. And he decided also. And and so we moved on from there. And it was it was a good thing for all of us. I don't really see now, looking back, that it would have changed. It would have happened any other way. But but at the time, that was a bit of confusion.

Speaker Right. In hindsight, you always going to end up together? I think so, yeah.

Speaker What put you through? A lot of decisions being made. He was making a decision. You also were making this decision. What was going through your mind? There's a man who's already got three kids. He's much older than you. How did you personally decide that you were going to go down this road and what considerations were there?

Speaker Well, I mean, it was very clear to me that I needed. I wanted to have children. And so with Norman, it was it was a pretty pretty big decision discussion. And I said, when you marry a younger woman, it sort of comes with the territory. So you have to decide. And he said he thought about it for a long time. He tried to dissuade me and then he said, I choose life. You know, I choose life.

Speaker So I want I'm going to have children with you. Of course, first we were just going to have one.

Speaker And and then that evolved. I didn't want them to be an only child. And so then we just it up to and big surprise was having twins. So that was a surprise for both of us.

Speaker I was asking.

Speaker Let's just you ask that again. No, I think it's OK if you've got to go. OK, fine, we're going on the boat. I mean, if the room was fine, we're good. Yeah.

Speaker I know my voice is still Crocket project, whatever, you know, it's just it's just the sort of your thing, I guess, that's happened recently in the last few years.

Speaker It's kind of nice. I have a little voice, too, which is so.

Speaker What year was it that you meant what you was and where was he and what was he exploring in his life and career at that time was where had he landed?

Speaker It was 1984, and I just moved back from New York to Los Angeles. And I think he was still exploring television. He was doing a capable and a few other TV shows. So he was still in that phase. And and I think right after we met, I think he did try that disastrous Sunday dinner sort of based on our lives. But but, yes, television was still very much a part of what he was doing.

Speaker And then I think he was also moving into the political arena more and more. And that's sort of the direction that he had headed into people for the American way he had started about five years before.

Speaker And your understanding of what people in America were you already connected or plugged in to the problems of the religious right, or did you know about how you explore that?

Speaker Tell me what you. Oh, sure.

Speaker Well, I mean, I had and that I was doing my dissertation on fundamentalism in America and Abraham Maslow. And and so when I heard about people for I wanted to know more. And that's kind of how we started to to talk. And and that's we had lunch actually about that issue. So so, yes, we were connected on that level of politics.

Speaker And will your similar political beliefs something you always share?

Speaker Yes, definitely. Definitely. Could you say that?

Speaker Well, yes. No, I we we definitely shared the the whole understanding about religion and fundamentalism in America. I mean, I was brought up sort of in a fundamentalist church. My mother took us to to Presbyterian, a fundamentalist church, every weekend. And and I was sent to Presbyterian Church camp where I got into a lot of trouble. I actually got kicked out for in Peyton Place and and smoking cigarettes. And, you know, when I was in junior high and it seemed so mild now, but at the time it was a very traumatic time for me. And and so we talked a lot about religion and I was very spiritual and I really still am. But but fundamentalism had a very dramatic effect on me growing up. So we had that in common. And we talked a lot about religion and the spiritual connection that we had really brought us together early on in our relationship. And he never really believed he had that side to him. But it's all throughout his, you know, his shows and his writing. And he's always been struggling with the issue of God and and with religion from a spiritual point of view, from, you know, religion as a creator, a cast, you know, point of view. So it's been a theme and a thread throughout our relationship. It's been really an interesting dialogue. We've had, in fact, that that's sort of led into the gully relationships to and and that weekend, every year that we have, we cult leaves weekend where we have a lot of spiritual sort of ministers and theologians and and and people that that come and we talk about all sorts of philosophical and theological ideas. And and it's it's always been a part of our lives and relationships.

Speaker Both are so open to all different types of people. Like I think you will be surprised that you hang out at times with theologians and religious people, because I think that stereotype for some people, like liberal Hollywood leftie, is so narrow and so.

Speaker Yes, right. Tell me about about that stereotype and and why that is inaccurate.

Speaker Well, I mean, one, it's I mean, Norman actually thrives on on on all kinds of people and and especially, you know, people of various beliefs and and religious beliefs. We have speakers, we have salons at the House and we have ever since we got married.

Speaker I mean, I started them early on when Marianne Williamson I had become friends. We women women's can we call them kindred spirits. And we had speakers on all sorts of women's issues and spiritual themes and and then they evolved into just more general issues. But from political we've had political camp, just about every Democratic political candidate spoken at our home, but also on health. And Deepak Chopra, Chopra and. And, of course. And herself and Dean Ornish and health issues of all kinds, Scripps Oceanographic Institute, of course, are involved into the environment with the Environmental Media Association, which Alan and Cindy Horn and then Norman and I founded in 1989. And we've had all kinds of now climate change has become a big issue for us. And Paul Hawken recently spoke at the home.

Speaker You get so plugged in and so no one is. I mean, everyone, you know, we talk to or I run to all these people. Oh, yeah. She's really the environment is such a huge issue for her. She's really effective. She's you have this name as somebody who's really important when it comes to talking about the environment.

Speaker When did you first sort of start going public with this passion?

Speaker And did you how did you bring Norman into that? Because this just seems that generated from you.

Speaker Well, Cindy and I, when we were pregnant, together with Ben and with Cody, and this was in nineteen eighty six, eighty seven, we were having lunch one day and we were thinking about what the world is going to be like in 30 years when our kids are grown and what can we eat, what's safe to eat. And this was for it before. It was really kind of cool to be green in Hollywood. And we started investigating and looking into what were called the Big Ten environmental organizations in those days, the Sierra Club and the NRDC and various organizations, and really got very scared because it was seriously I mean, there were serious issues then. In fact, there was like a 20 year window before it was too late in those days.

Speaker Now, you know, we don't know what the window is, but it's closing rapidly. And so we just said, well, what can we do about it that that the other big organizations can't do? And we thought we would have access to our husbands. We have access to the media, and that's the best way to get the word out. So we thought instead of recreating the wheel, that's let's use the media and celebrate environmental issues through television and film and documentaries and give awards in awards show every year that to to to these films and TV shows that have environmental issues in their programming. And we went out to directors and and show runners and and producers and and helped give them ideas for shows and educate them. And if you want to know how to talk about whales and a particular show, we can get you the right information. That's kind of how it all evolved. And now it's become a big Hollywood event every every fall. And someone who who runs Emma does an amazing job putting on this big, big awards show. About a thousand young Hollywood people come every year. And it's a it's a big fun event.

Speaker I remember when you said this about sort of why not why you're reinventing the wheel. We have access to the media. Tell me about harnessing the media and what Norman seems to have been an expert, that he seems to use it for people, for the American way. What can we learn? What have you learned about the best way to harness the media through Norman? He seems to be just like a master, if he really is.

Speaker And I think he did started actually at the awards idea was his idea. I think he did that with Manatos. And imagine imagine him on it. Humanitas. So, you know, he's that's where he's been. This is what all in the family and all of his shows had social messaging in them. And some way or another, he knew how to implant ideas and thoughts and issues and in a way that I don't think anybody had really done before in the same way he did. So he is a master at that.

Speaker And so he inspired us to do more and more of it. But the environment was sort of came from Cindy and I and then and then it evolved throughout the years. And of course, it's natural for him as well. And and for everybody who cares about the world and about their children and the future of our planet.

Speaker What's it like with the two of you and how what what are how are you how do you collaborate and interact on your project, your own projects, his own projects? It feels like it's a team effort happening here. Tell me what you know what it is. Describe to me how you how your relationship is.

Speaker Well, I'd like to say we were more partners in that respect, collaborated more. But we really are pretty lone artists in lots of ways, you know, in many ways ourselves. We do have breakfast together as much as possible, but not every day he gets a much earlier than I do, so he gets up and reads the paper and he works out at different times. But we always have dinner together at night and we talk about a lot of things at night and and we do make appointments to talk about things as well. And so but we we definitely discuss things. And when we drive to places, we drive. We talk in the car. We talk as much as we can. It's not always easy because we have very different worlds. He goes to his office and I work out of the home. But we you know, we definitely collaborate as much as possible, but we have very different worlds.

Speaker You have you ever felt and you ever feel the age difference?

Speaker Definitely, yes. Yes, we do feel that the age difference I mean, more and more all the time. But I wouldn't say that it's a big issue. I would say that it's it's just it's just a matter of, you know, a more more so today, I mean. You know, I fight with him about driving. I do. He won't like me just say that. But he's still driving. He insists on driving, but and he's, you know, but he's never been a good driver. He's a terrible driver. His children. We'll tell you that they never liked him driving. He's one of those guys that will drive on the side of the road just to get past traffic. So, you know, I mean, it's just I shouldn't be driving. He never should have had a license. But he insists so, you know, and he's been he's never really gotten in big trouble either. So much to say.

Speaker So, yeah, I was asking Ben also about like you had an older dad. Did you notice your did your friends notice? You know what? You know, it's not an elephant in the room, which is a question that people want to know. Right. He said, yeah. I mean, it was something that wasn't like invisible to him. And but I it seems like from reading the book and talking or talking to Ben that did did Norman look at having a new family with you is almost like a boy to do over some of the mistakes he made. He did he want to be a different kind of dad to your kids?

Speaker Tell me about that. I must say, I mean, our children really did luck out. I mean, they got a lot more attention and a lot more time than his older families did. I mean, he took them to school every morning and he made them breakfast. He was up early, made them breakfast and, you know, egg, you know, egg in a hole in the middle of a piece of bread.

Speaker And and, you know, he did spend a lot more time with them. So and I think, you know, Kate and Maggie and Ellen would, you know, would admit to that. So and he would certainly admit to it.

Speaker But but he's been an amazing father to all of his six children, and there's no question about that.

Speaker It's interesting to me now I'm going to misquote this and I'm sorry, it was something that I think is in the book and he also said it at the time when we were filming the PEN Awards. Wasn't it you that said if you you started challenging her about his childhood, about coming to terms with his relationship with the father and with the line whenever you decide to connect with that?

Speaker Oh, oh, you mean when when he wasn't facing up to the fact that he was he was dealing with his anger when his father was growing up, we talked a little bit about in the interview, but I want to go further into your role as it is so huge and this shit, I don't think you realize you even had a temper at that earlier parts of his life.

Speaker You know, he has a he has a really strong temper. And and I think it was such that I mean, he talks about being disassociated and I think he he would lose his temper and he wasn't aware that he even had lost it. And so when at one point. You know, he's you know, he's talking about his father and how his life was so great. So he didn't really need to go back and deal with his childhood and avoid what your father went to prison when you were nine and he was gone for three years and left you. Your mother left, took your sister and left you with relatives. And and you don't have to deal with that. Are you kidding? So, you know, finally he started to look at that and and realize that, yeah, maybe that was a little dark spot in his life that he had to maybe look at a little more closely.

Speaker So I knew the person who got him to do that because he would write I mean, caught you. So did things start to make more sense about him as you early in the relationship, as you learned his back story?

Speaker Well, you know, I'm I'm a therapist. I trained as a therapist, although I've practiced since we got married because we travel a lot and had kids. But he's your only patient. Well, you know. I know. I know. You have to, you know, look at your past and and deal with issues. So and I'm doing the same thing. So when I started therapy, I think I got him to come with me to help me. So that's how it started. And then, you know, a really good therapist can kind of help. Troll somebody, bring somebody in to help you, maybe then look at themselves as well, and that's what Arthur posted.

Speaker And as you got to know him better and your relationship, did you revisit did you start out of curiosity, revisit some of the shows that you had seen, hadn't seen? And did you start seeing any connections between his personal life and episodes and storylines?

Speaker And what I wouldn't say and I watched a lot of his shows when I grew up, especially on the family. That was my dad's favorite show.

Speaker But I wouldn't say I went back and watched a lot of the shows, I just think a lot of the themes were already there. We had we when they come up on TV, we would watch them and we would see clearly these themes, but but throughout all of his shows, they were obviously there. And the father issues especially.

Speaker People think they know Norman through his shows and don't know him because of his public stature and because he's he sort of belongs to the country in this interesting way that I'm discovering.

Speaker What don't people know about Norman Lear? What do you what what what what what should we know? What don't we know? What will we never know? What is you name the most intimately?

Speaker OK, did some water on that one. That's a good question. You know, like what are we missing or, you know, I do.

Speaker What don't what doesn't the public know about Norman Lear? I mean, there are lots lots of things. There's a sort of a really sweet. Little boy, a gentle side to Norman that that I guess you have to live around to to know maybe people think they know that, but they wouldn't really know it the way you would if you're. You know, around him all the time, there's a difficult, you know, temperamental side, of course, there are all these nuances, these sides that that that you have to live with somebody to know there are. There are signs that you would think it would be funny all the time, but he's much more serious. Much more serious than you would think. And yet, you know, he he can be more subtly humorous than one would would realize to the Genom group, for instance, when? When. When I when I first got married and the the NFL group, no Mel Anani and the Gaubatz and Carl and Estelle and the Luis's all got together, they sort of adopted me into the group, which was really fun for me. And of course, they were all such hysterical, brilliant humorists and. And it was fun to watch them play off of each other and their different kinds of humor, and Norman was always just more of a subtle satirist, you know, kind of humor with all top each other in certain ways. Everybody would say Larry Gelbart was the funniest. But I always thought Norman had a different, more subtle kind of humor.

Speaker Then the rest of them, but, you know, everyone was so different. It was really unique satire.

Speaker It's interesting where I was editing the film and my my editors getting to know to the footage.

Speaker And she's there are so few satirists now. I think that is such a great work for his.

Speaker Realm of comedy. Gea, which is fine, too, but it's it is more subtle. It is like, what is he satirizing in his work and what is what is how does he have a satirical view of the world?

Speaker In what way do you notice that all that's that's you know, that's it's always so unique, it just comes out? It depends on the moment. It just will be kind of mind blowing because it'll just pop out of him in a way that innovation. Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Speaker He always says that he is dumbfounded by the foolishness of the human condition.

Speaker What is that? Well, I think that, you know, as mentioned, his grandmother, when he talks about that and how, you know. She would just find humor in even the worst situation, you know? She thought she was in this restroom and she had just, you know, was in the worst situation. I think she was dying and she was really sick and she had wet her pants or something.

Speaker And how are you, Grandma? And she would look at it and say, how am I, you know, I mean, you know, I mean, how do you have to laugh?

Speaker Yeah, right.

Speaker But he would find humor in that. She found humor. Now you have to find humor in that. It's just life. Yeah. And life. You have to find humor in every single bit of it, you know, in that in that way.

Speaker Absolutely. So it seems like he does he doesn't miss a trick when it comes to absurd. Right. You're right. You're right. But you're right. He's more serious than the public thinks. I mean, I definitely you know, you need to do a little research, OK, if you.

Speaker Thank you.

Speaker Supporter.

Speaker There's another thing I've noticed, too, about Norman is he will he's always rooting for the little guy.

Speaker And also he will find talent. He will find people to that. He will take chances on just in everyday life. I mean, he will just as you know, he found this taxi cab driver that that he put through college. He will find somebody who will just come into the house or come into our lives, that he will feel, oh, this person is perfect to do to try for this role. You will notice to somebody off the street that that nobody else would take a chance on that he'll it'll just hit him, that this person should try out for this role or I'm going to take a chance on this person, whereas other people would have casting direct, you know, people to have them come. You know, people find people for him, but he'll just find somebody that happens to walk in the house and think this person is right for this role or, you know, it would come it will just come to him as they walk through his life in various ways.

Speaker It's such a superpower that it is that casting ability, something else. And, you know, it's something people understand is that skill. And it's played out so many times.

Speaker And I see it happen over and over again. It just happened last weekend. Tell me not just somebody that we were with in Cancun that he just saw could possibly be up for a role. And somebody else who who gave a toast he thought could be a writer on a project because he was so funny, you know, but those kinds of things don't happen to many other people. They just don't see it. They don't observe in the way that Norman does.

Speaker Right. They don't have those eyes. Right. Tell me about this, this return to television in a big way that's happening right now. What is more we're trying to do?

Speaker It's just great. It's a wonderful he always said he had more shows in him. And then he does and now now that he's just written a book and he's got all this publicity going on about him, people are starting to listen in and it's just why it's wonderful. And it's I believe it's going to happen.

Speaker Can you tell me what what what it is?

Speaker I mean, this is what the shows are. Yeah. Just just let's set this up. Yeah.

Speaker OK, sure. Sure. Anyone really setting this up? Well, believe it or not. Oh really. Oh my God. Yeah.

Speaker Oh, they're working on a Latino one day at a time. And you know, but the script you wrote called Guess Who Died about about a sort of a Golden Girls for the for the older set for for an aging home and then getting greenlit. It's on the way. It's on the way. It's looks like it might might happen to me if the title ever. I know it's hysterical. That's that's a possibility. There may be a special all in the family people are talking about and who knows, there could be other other shows as well.

Speaker I mean, this is happening. Is this this one day at a time, which is such a cool idea. It's a great idea. It's so fresh. You know, I take that tape. Right. Are you are you watching this? What are you what's going through your head as you watch this ferocious return to.

Speaker I just think it's wonderful. I think it's about time. Yeah, it's about time for sure, I mean, everybody seems to think that, oh, that old style comedy or whatever, you know, it's it can't work today. And and I don't it's absurd. I mean, or people say that all of his shows couldn't be on the air today because they're two or two out there. They're you know, you can't say those things in television today or you can't talk about issues like that today. And that doesn't make sense either. Of course. Why not? So we'll find out.

Speaker Right. You must be really excited and proud of him.

Speaker He's worked hard. He's worked so hard. Nobody has any idea how hard he worked on that book for three or four years, day in, day out. He sat in his office and and wrote every word himself. And he's such a good writer and such a thorough writer. And and, you know, he he liked the way he earned and deserves every bit of all the attention he's getting now. And and and the book tour is endless, I must say. It's going on and on now. The paperback is coming out and it's going to be another year. But he's having the best time. He's having the best time. He's enjoying every minute.

Speaker And then he said, oh, I'm just coming in in my maturity. Right. He believes I mean, how do we get how do we stay like that?

Speaker Would you would you describe her childlike sensibility, you mentioned it, that he's got this sort of sweet little boy, boyish quality?

Speaker Mm hmm. Tell me about that. The childlike aspect of Hamlet, is that part of his his creativity? Is that something that is at that sort of like a secret weapon to have this childlike view of the world? Or would you not describe it like that?

Speaker No, I think it's a more mature view than that, but I think what's happened is that he is kind of coming into his own in that he's always sort of been well, it's it's an. How do I describe it?

Speaker It's kind of, in a way, been behind the scenes, but he's always wanted to be in front of the scenes, but then he always has been in front of the scenes. I mean, there's a reason, the white hat. No, he's he's made himself into a noticeable personality, even though he's really sort of the producer. He's not the actor, but now he's becoming the actor as well. And so he's always wanted to be in and now he is. And now even more so, the idea that he's getting in front of the camera more and more, that he's enjoying being the ham and being able to be the sort of water. Erhart Dare I use that name? That's not the right name. But, you know, the guru kind of in front of people talking about the wisdom and all that he's learned in life.

Speaker Eckhart Tolle, maybe that's better. That's a much better, much better water. Iraq was asked. Never mind. Never mind. Don't do that. The cartel is much better now. You just take that up thing.

Speaker But that is OK that he's got you know, he's he's been able to really talk now, you know, as a wise person. And until, you know, people, as he says, nice or 90, he's he's you know, everything he says is a bit of of wisdom and gold dust to it. So and he's enjoying that immensely.

Speaker So I'm sure you're enjoying it as well.

Speaker Well, I'm enjoying it for him. I really am.

Speaker Well, you know, although I do have to laugh when we get home, sometimes I can't take it that seriously.

Speaker But you're like he's flesh and blood people. Yes, please. Does he ever go to his head all his life? Oh, my God. Yes, I think it is a little bit. A little bit. It's one complete sentence.

Speaker Oh, this goes to his head. That is greatness, His Majesty. A little bit. Little bit, you've got to keep his kids as kids grounded and they keep him grounded as his younger ones, especially the keep real.

Speaker Yeah. What do your kids think of this new found, this huge burst of publicity and career action? Are they enjoying it? Like observing?

Speaker You know, they've grown up with it. And I think this is par for the course with them. So they're they're enjoying it for him also. But as I said, they keep him grounded.

Speaker They so, you know, Norman has you know, we I have the story. Who knew what you know, too, which is where I first decided to ask Norman about the grandfather stories because they were in those books. And I read books before our first interview.

Speaker And of course, I asked him about it and he said that never happened.

Speaker And then we looked at all of our archive and there's like 40 years of the story being told. And now he's gone public about something he told, right? It's not like a secret anymore. Wow. Like what? When did she tell you that these stories were true?

Speaker And you as a therapist, someone as a psychologist. What is that? I find it he didn't hurt anybody with the story. It's just. Interesting to me. Mm hmm. Tell me about how you came to know this and what you what you thought about it.

Speaker I think quite some time ago, I think when he first opened up about it, that when he told me and I said, you've got you can't put that in the book. And he struggled with that for a while because he did in the very beginning. I think he just it was such a good story. He's a storyteller. And I think for a while he struggled with it because it was such a good story. And and then, of course, he realized he couldn't and he had to tell the truth about it, but it was part of that, you know, the words the writers, the liberal, you know, what's what what's the word when you have when you take the writer's creative liberty. Yes. Creative liberty as a writer. And, you know, I think every writer sort of feels they can judge a little bit. I can have that creative look. It's not creative liberties. There's another word for it anyway. But you can have a little freedom when it comes to writing. And and I think he he really wanted to say that tell that story. But he had the that he took that from his friend and it just his grandfather. And he wanted also to believe that that his family was a little better than they were. And he wanted to, you know, make it seem like it was a little better than they were. And then then he had to face that, you know, listen, everybody has their you know, their sort of. Dark side of the family and not we're not all who we try to make ourselves out to be, and and that's what makes us really human and that's OK.

Speaker And that's what makes him human to even talk about. And I think that's big of him and cool.

Speaker Exactly. We all do it. Exactly. You know, try to put lipstick on a pig, but it's kind of exactly like a little bit better. I think it's very relatable exactly doing that. Were there other things that came along the way that you did he is he just an embellisher by nature? Is that he just he's just got the writer's brain. Is that something you find him embellishing often? That's just Norman.

Speaker So I think. I think. I think there were times when he did a lot more, so I think now he's really much more he's really honest about everything now. But I mean, there were times when he wasn't in the Army that that he would say it was Italian instead of Jewish at certain points. And when he was in the Army, I think he wrote about that a little in the book. Now, of course, you know, it's not true, but there were periods in his life where he tried to pretend he was somebody different than who he was. But I think we all go through those phases, right.

Speaker Trying on different hats and things like that. Right. Right. Really interesting. OK. Great, I'm just going to go to my my notes. Those are all the things that I wrote last night.

Speaker I love it. OK.

Speaker I'm trying to remember that was our. Her 16th eighty fifth. Which is that? Brent, is Brent here, right? He's not, so let's see. Yeah, well, that's our sixtieth and eighty fifth, and then we call that our 100th and. Forty, fifty, forty fifth was a forty fifth. One hundred and forty fifty point eighty five plus sixty eight plus six is one forty one hundred and forty fifth anniversary or birthday or I can't remember what it was in the book, but it was one hundred and forty fifth. She's going to change and then. Yes, it was a combined anniversary and birthday party. OK, so it was our twenty fifth anniversary and birthday party.

Speaker Sixty five thirty five hundred forty five hundred forty fifth what now?

Speaker And twenty fifth. So maybe we added all those together.

Speaker How hard is it to make this giant family with all these kids and different ages. Just how old is your oldest child and how old is your youngest child. Walk me through really quick that.

Speaker Well the twins are 20. And Ellen is, I think, 60. I think she just turned 69. So that's a pretty big age difference, right? So he started really young. I think he hit only one year, been single since his early 20s. So, yeah. So he's he's a married kind of guy. He's been married all of his mature life. How are you and how is his family?

Speaker I know blending in at the beginning was not easy.

Speaker No, it wasn't for any of us, but mostly because I think the two, Kate and Maggie were trying to have kids. Maggie wasn't married yet, but she wanted to be and Kate was trying to have children. And then I wanted to have children so that. Was problematic because, of course, I think I mentioned this in the last minute, that they she felt that that that are having children would take away from her kids. And in fact, it had just the opposite really brought us closer. So we ended up traveling the world together and really brought us so close as an extended family and and. We couldn't be closer now.

Speaker Whose idea was it for everyone to travel around the world together with international troops?

Speaker I think it just it just evolved. And and we all, you know, just can't nobody wants to be separated anymore. We just love being together.

Speaker Really? You really feel like one.

Speaker We really do. And our kids are in love with with their kids and they're all best friends. And and so we we really we're really very blessed. It's very unique. And now my family, too, you know, we just had a reunion in Vermont with my my family and and my family and and we all want to get all together, too. And it's it's really a nice, nice feeling.

Speaker But I think and your siblings and your family in general, think of when you said I'm in love with Norman Lear, I think everybody was shocked.

Speaker Everybody was shocked because I really didn't say anything for the longest time. About what? About Norman. Why? Because I just I didn't want anybody to know for a long time because he was married, number one. And number two was just too big of a you know, to I just want to wait until I knew for sure something was going to happen. How did you do so? Well, I just said, you know, this man that I've been dating, that was Norman Lear. And I was like, what?

Speaker I mean, my father died, but my mother was still alive. And because she she couldn't have been happier. But anyway, it was a big surprise to everybody. But it all, you know, all was he couldn't have been sweeter to my family and and more wonderful. But the tall ships we talked about and that was a really awkward situation. And my mother didn't know what was going on and it was strange. But then when we had this one hundred and forty fifth birthday and that was that was quite something we had Harry Belafonte and and Janet, not Janet Jackson. I was. Oh, God. Who was it the. Who do you have the book? Yeah, I don't think that's in the book, though.

Speaker Is it the video right now? We have the video of this party. I think so. The computers are great. Yeah, well, it's great video of all you guys. It's terrible.

Speaker It was Harry Belafonte. It was. Oh, oh, God. Who was the singer that you know who sang? Who opened it was. And that that one big hit, the black singer with. Jennifer Hudson. She opened and Harry Belafonte closed and in between. My God, I can't remember who all we have, we had so many amazing. Huh, well, I had an affair, Molly Shannon was there, she did a comedy act, and we had our favorite singer who did Ain't Love Easy, Barbara Cook. That's right. That's your song. That's our song. And we had.

Speaker Why is that your song? Can you talk a little bit about it now and make sure I have it? We did.

Speaker We did. We did. Because it just felt like love was easy to love each other. Was it love? Is it. We just love that song. We used to dance a lot when we were together to Johnny Mathis songs. What I'm trying to think of who else. It was a big blur. There were so many. Amazing, amazing. Anyway, it's one of the most incredible nights. But Norman had gotten into this producer mode where he was the producer and I was only allowed to do the set to do the set design. So I, I made this gorgeous room with these silk from India tablecloths and peonies on every table and just everything was recycled wood. We built it on the tennis court and it was it was stunningly gorgeous, but I couldn't do it was like it got into this mode where he was the M.C. Nobody could give toasts. And it was his like final production of the world. And he had everything aligned. And I mean, it turned out to be actually a big fight that night because he had to do everything down to a tee and not so much a fight. But I was really mad. I mean, I couldn't even announce that everything was environmentally friendly. I had to do that. So it was like a real controlling thing. And and so at the very end, Kate got up and finally gave a toast. But it was it was a little frenetic, a little controlling, a little like a lot.

Speaker So but but it turned out to be one of the most amazing nights of all time.

Speaker And whatever took over took him just that producers and that producer's instinct, he was just going to produce the most incredible show anybody had ever seen in Hollywood. And it turned out to be this incredible show. But it was the you know, the the warm and friendly, the wonderful moment he'll admit to this today. You know, I don't know if we should show that we should probably talk about this, but but it was just that that magical warm and friendly family kind of thing just, you know, was missing because that producer instinct took over.

Speaker No, this is interesting because. Yeah, it's an aspect of I mean, this is what it's like.

Speaker There were producers all the time.

Speaker That's right. That's right. I think it's interesting. So it's not necessarily I think it's just like, yeah, no, no know it is and it is.

Speaker And and but since then, you know, he's really he gets that now and then. But that's that's a side of Norman where the producer side can take over sometimes and can really, you know, just he's got to have it perfect. Yeah. So I was trying to tell you that.

Speaker Oh I know. OK, so anyway. All right, I'll be very interesting.

Speaker Ben was saying earlier a similar thing. He was bringing up other other examples of like when the producer dad said, yes, something goes from.

Speaker Oh, right, exactly. Doing something very similar is that I think it's something the only family that's true. And that's why it's fun to hear that without all the talk that you tell you about all the trips Norman would take them on, took skydiving and that. Oh, my God, I'll go into that.

Speaker Oh, my God. I'm a little bit. But tell me a little bit about. About.

Speaker Oh, it's five right now, I'm going to be super dad to take Norma tactic then, I mean, he would he would take him on an aircraft carrier and have the admiral be there, you know, to and then take him out on, you know, on a real, you know, like bombers, you know, out in the you know, to do skydives. You know, wouldn't we just play once? I mean, it would be the real thing.

Speaker So over the top, really over the top that the producer said, I'm going to be a great dad.

Speaker It's both. It's both. Absolutely both. What the producer, Norman being the producer and Norman being Superjet and taking Ben out on this on this real destroyer or aircraft carrier and having the admiral meet him there or whatever, and then taking Ben out and going out on real like bombers or scheide, you know, the airplanes doing, you know, and he'd be in one airplane then would be in the other and they would be doing dives together and tricks together. And it was great fun for a 10 year old.

Speaker But a little over the top. I mean, crazy. Oh, my gosh. See some video of that trip? I don't think there is video. We have all sorts of we have video of all those things, but that would be a fun.

Speaker But he didn't mention the he mentioned other little other things.

Speaker Yeah, but they were in the same vein of like but crazy out there kinds of things. And they would go to the Aspen Comedy Festival and can imagine being, you know, going with your father to the Aspen Comedy Festival where every comedian, you know, wants to meet you and meet your dad.

Speaker Big deal. It's OK. It can be a little overwhelming. Yeah, you know.

Speaker But and that's been Superdad, and you know what, Norman, let me just this it's. It's it's quite something and all, you know, with the deepest love and and, you know, just incredible, incredible experiences, what a unique life all of you have. That's for sure. That's for sure. It's just sorting it all out and kind of. The amazing thing is that they're all such grounded kids. Yeah, it's really quite extraordinary that they're they're also grounded. Yeah, all of them. All six of them really know.

Speaker I know that's really a testament to your parenting and. Yeah. That shouldn't be on paper.

Speaker I don't know. Yeah, I know it's really we're very we're very fortunate and we're very blessed.

Speaker Can you just tell me the importance one more time we talked about a little bit of what is the golden mean to your family? You have all this beautiful footage of you guys there.

Speaker Oh, well, it's a difficult issue because it's a very special place. I struggle with it because I wonder if a place should have that much, you know?

Speaker Substance in terms of. You know, it being like a symbol of a family where there should be more inside your heart because eventually, you know, how long can that last? We have so many memories there. It's like we're selling our home now in West Virginia. And it's very difficult. It's very painful. But sometimes you have to let things go. I don't know how long we can hold on to the family, but we're going to try to hold on to it for as long as we can. But the memories, you know, really, we have to hold on to inside.

Speaker So, you know, but it's it's been decided that it's sort of a there's a time to you know, I mean, well, we we're going to try to hold onto it for as long as we can.

Speaker But, you know, families disperse and move on and and grow and change. But it's been such an extraordinary place for all of us, for so many, many, many years of questioning.

Speaker And it's hard to answer. But even if it's a personal thing and it's not about the career, it's totally your personal answer. What? What's known as legacy.

Speaker I know it's a big one.

Speaker What's Norman's legacy? I think he's given us such a gift of love and and insight and he's given. All of us, a sense of humanity. And and great humor.

Speaker But really.

Speaker For us personally, as a family, it's it's been we have this thread of common.

Speaker Common. Human, sort of.

Speaker This thread is given us this thread of. Have a sense of common humanity that we hold really deep and sincere in our hearts and and we all feel blessed to have been a part of his life. We really feel blessed to be a part of this country, a part of of his legacy of of of this world.

Speaker I can't imagine my life without him, without. Without his children, without.

Speaker Being his wife and, you know, it's just such a blessing. He's just a wonderful human being.

Speaker Yes, it's a real deep love. You can feel like you really can.

Speaker I mean, it's just been a ride, it's been such an experience.

Speaker I mean, it's so maybe like I think of it being on the ocean, all of these waves, you know, these wonderful waves of just flowing, you know, through the sea of experiences that just keep going. And I think it will continue to keep going, you know, for however long he's here and and, you know, and I think he will continue to be with all of us, you know, whenever he leaves. You know, well, I'll keep going.

Speaker And flowing. Within.

Speaker If anyone's going to leave an eternal mark, it'll be Norman, that's for sure. Not someone who gets forgotten and will keep laughing to.

Lyn Lear
Interview Date:
2015-07-07
Runtime:
1:00:38
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
N/A
MLA CITATIONS:
"Lyn Lear, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 07 Jul. 2015, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1050
APA CITATIONS:
(2015, July 07). Lyn Lear, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1050
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Lyn Lear, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 07, 2015. Accessed January 27, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1050

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