A great man has just died … and, no, I do not refer to Henry Kissinger. The great and decent man I reference is Norman Lear. We were friendly. Not really friends, though he has more than once had me to his home and over the years offered both my wife(s) and me many kindnesses.
Norman Lear’s accomplishments will be listed and probably not equaled in books yet to be written. I can only add, in all my memories of my life in show business, the winning of multiple Emmys, Golden Globes, and other such paraphernalia, the compliment that most stands out in my mind… the one I remember with the greatest pride… was the brief introduction I received on the dais of a Hollywood event in which both Mr. Lear and I were featured speakers.
Norman was presented first as “King Lear,” and I was then introduced as “The Heir Apparent.” High praise… the best I ever received in a four-decade career in show business. I never fulfilled that “promise,” not following the great man’s example, opting instead to get out of Hollywood as soon as I was able, and retiring to my adopted home on a sub-tropical Island paradise. But I still remember that day… and that introduction.
Norman Lear gets a nice mention in my book, Cagney & Lacey… and Me (still available for purchase at Amazon or through the Cagney & Lacey website, I hasten to shamelessly add). And you could do a lot worse than checking out the works of Mr. Lear, including (but not limited to) two of my favorites, All in the Family (Apple TV) and Maude (Amazon Prime or Apple TV).
I can also highly recommend the recent reboot he did in his late 90s of One Day at a Time, this time with Rita Moreno for Netflix. Oh, yes. It has been years since I have seen it, but I would bet Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman still delivers plenty of laughs. Keep an eye out for where it might stream in the (hopefully) not too distant future.
All hail to King Lear. I am going to miss him. Morituri te salutant!
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