Norman Lear dead at 101: Jimmy Kimmel, Tyler Perry and more react to TV icon's death

Lear was behind shows like "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons."

December 6, 2023, 12:32 PM

The entertainment world is mourning the death of legendary television producer Norman Lear.

Lear, a six-time Emmy winner behind iconic shows like "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons," died Tuesday, Dec. 5, of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. He was 101 years old.

"Norman lived a life of curiosity, tenacity and empathy," Lear's family said in a statement. "He deeply loved our country and spent a lifetime helping to preserve its founding ideals of justice and equality for all. He began his career in the earliest days of live television and discovered a passion for writing about the real lives of Americans, not a glossy ideal."

Those reacting to Lear's death include people who worked with him, those who were inspired by him and those who were touched by his work.

PHOTO: Television producer Norman Lear poses for a portrait in New York, Oct. 12, 2016.
Television producer Norman Lear poses for a portrait in New York, Oct. 12, 2016.
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Keep reading to see Hollywood's tributes to Lear:

Jimmy Kimmel: "It is obviously silly to want more time with a person who outlived a whole century but losing Norman Lear, even at 101 years old, feels unfair. His bravery, integrity and unmatched moral compass were equaled by his kindness, empathy, and wit. Norman was very proud of the fact that the so-called Reverend Jerry Falwell dubbed him 'The number one enemy of the American family.' The opposite was true. More than anyone before him, Norman used situation comedy to shine a light on prejudice, intolerance, and inequality. He created families that mirrored ours, showing us a world in which Archie Bunker and Michael Stivic could learn to not only co-exist, but to love one another. As a young man, Technical Sergeant Lear flew 52 combat missions over Nazi Germany. He continued to fight for freedom all the way to the end of his life on earth. Even at 101, Norman cared as much about the future, our children, and planet or as anyone I have ever known. He was a great American, a hero in every way and so funny, smart, and lovely man you almost couldn't believe it. The privilege of working alongside Norman and the opportunity he gave me and my wife to get to know him and his beautiful family has been among the great honors and pleasures of my life. We were all very lucky to have him."

Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company: "There are no words to fully express the monumental impact and legacy that Norman Lear leaves behind. He was an icon and the brilliant mind behind countless timely and meaningful shows that were full of heart and humor. He wasn't afraid to take risks and was one of the most influential storytellers in television history. His passion went far beyond the screen as a veteran, philanthropist and social activist. Our hearts are with his wife, Lyn, his children and all those who knew and loved him. Norman, we thank you for the beautiful stories that have transformed our industry and for making us laugh along the way."

George Clooney: "It's hard to reconcile that at 101 years old, Norman Lear is gone too soon. The entire world of reason just lost its greatest advocate and our family lost a dear friend. A giant walked in his shoes."

Jane Fonda: "Today is a very sad day. Norman Lear, a man who meant a lot to many on a personal level and who changed the face and soul of American comedy, has passed. My heart is heavy. I loved Norman."

Tyler Perry: "Not long ago I had the pleasure of meeting one of my heroes. He invited me to lunch at his home and as we sat and talked and laughed, I got a chance to tell him how he had helped save my life. I shared with him that he taught me to dream a bigger dream by his example. He was 100 years old at the time, but sharp as ever. Full of wisdom and great advice, and I took it all in. Just before I left, I asked, 'At 100 years old what are you looking forward to?' Without any hesitation he said, 'Tomorrow.' It was such a simple but powerful lesson to live your life fully one day at a time. And 'One Day at a Time' just happened to be the name of one of his many hit TV shows along with 'Maude,' 'All in The Family,' 'Good Times,' 'Sanford and Son' and so many other incredible shows. They were the only thing that brought laughter and joy to me as a child, who was living a daily nightmare. I'm so glad that I had the chance to say to him, thanks to his vision and his work, he gave me many 'tomorrows' to look forward to. So today, sadly, I say goodbye and I salute a veteran. One who asked me to help put together a moment for him to say thank you to the surviving Redtail Tuskegee Airmen, he wanted to thank them for the escorts they provided him and others during World War II, which I did with Robin Roberts on GMA. It felt good to be able to do something for him. A hero and someone who inspired me to try and bring as much laughter to the world as he bought to the little boy that I was. You sir are truly one of one! I'm so glad we were on the planet at the same time. Thank you for your example. Rest in peace my dear friend, I thank God for you. My prayers are with your family. Travel well, Mr. Norman Lear."

PHOTO: Norman Lear poses for a portrait during the Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour, Jan. 13, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif.
Norman Lear poses for a portrait during the Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour, Jan. 13, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif.
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Quinta Brunson: "Oh, this hurts. I don't have many heroes, but Norman Lear was one of mine. Thank you for everything, Norman."

Rob Reiner: "I loved Norman Lear with all my heart. He was my second father. Sending my love to Lyn and the whole Lear family."

Albert Brooks: "The greatest of the greats. R.I.P. Norman Lear. You were loved."

Jane Lynch: "How lucky are we? How lucky are we to have crossed timelines with Norman Lear? How lucky am I to have grown up with 'All in the Family,' 'Sanford and Son,' 'Good Times,' 'Maude' and all the rest? #Blessed. Rest now, Norman."

William Shatner: "Condolences to the family of Norman Lear. He contributed so much to American Television over the years."

Mark Ruffalo: "One of the all time great Humanists changed the world by being honest about the love, laughter, and troubles we all share. RIP Norman Lear, progressive King."

Brent Miller, president of production at Lear's production company Act III: "It has been an absolute privilege and honor to be one of Norman's many collaborators and partners. It has been thrilling and inspiring. He pushed us and inspired us every day to make entertainment that mattered. I will miss Norman's wisdom, wit and friendship deeply. With the help and support of our partners at Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as many other talented collaborators - writers, actors, executives and crew - we were fortunate enough to make television history, over and over again. He will remain the guiding light at Act III Productions as we continue the shows already in production and move forward with those we imagined together. I already miss his laugh and the twinkle in his eye and our shared love of Bloody Marys. But as he always said... to be continued..."

Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend Norman Lear. A Founding Father in our industry, Norman and the shows he created defined what great television could be. Always entertaining, impactful, and fearless in addressing society's most complex and difficult issues through humor, shows like "All In The Family," "The Jeffersons," and "One Day at a Time" set the standard for modern television audiences and paved the way for just about every great situation comedy or drama that has followed since. Norman will forever be recognized among the great television legends, and we are honored to have had him as part of the Sony family. It was always a such a joy having him with us on the lot, and I'm already missing being able to check in with him. Our hearts go out to Lyn and his family and all those who had the pleasure of knowing him."

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News and "Good Morning America."