Norman Lear — creator of such television shows as “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” “Sanford and Son,” and more — entertained a packed house in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West on Friday, March 6, the latest in the Antioch in Conversation series.
With fellow TV producer/writer and Montecito resident Barry Kemp (“Newhart,” “Taxi,” “Coach”) serving as interlocutor, Lear spun tales of his career, which included battles with network censors, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, and even landed him on former President Richard Nixon’s infamous enemies list.
Lear detailed his start in the entertainment industry by selling a humorous routine to actor and comedian Danny Thomas and building his career from there before striking gold with the iconic show “All in the Family” and its lovable but gruff main character Archie Bunker.
“He was afraid of tomorrow, afraid of progress,” Lear said of Archie, who was partially modeled after Lear’s father and whose bigotry introduced sensitive subjects like race relations to American television.
“Your shows were designed not just to make people laugh, but also to make people think,” Kemp said in summarizing Lear’s career.
Lear also pointed out Alan and Marilyn Bergman in the audience. The Bergmans helped compose the theme music for “Maude” and “Good Times,” two of Lear’s most popular shows.
The next Antioch In Conversation event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 8 when Nir Kabaretti, Music and Artistic Director for the Santa Barbara Symphony, will speak in the Community Hall on the Antioch campus at 602 Anacapa Street.
Antioch in Conversation is a series designed to foster public engagement about the issues and inspirations that shape our community, society, and the world.