EMMY Award-winning producer Norman Lear has been married three times and one of his wives claims to have been a major contributor to his career.
Norman Lear and Frances Loeb were married for 28 years before divorcing, which resulted in a $110 million settlement from which she benefited.
Veteran producer Lear is responsible for a number of classic TV sitcoms including Good Times and All in the Family.
He began as a comedy writer for the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis NBC radio show in the 1950s.
Over the next decade, Lear designed episodes of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and the Henry Fonda western series The Deputy.
He wrote the 1967 film Divorce American Style, which starred Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds, and produced a variety of popular shows including the Bea Arthur vehicle Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons and Archie Bunker’s Place.
His second wife, Frances, was quick to say that she served as an inspiration for Norman’s shows and characters.
“I was part of his thinking,” she told the New York Times.
“Norman couldn’t have done his shows without me.”
It was widely believed that Frances inspired the title character of the hit series Maude, played by Arthur.
But their marriage hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
“WE HAD BECAME HE”
After a turbulent romance, the couple married in 1956 and went on to work together on their sitcoms.
They quickly had two children together, Kate, born in 1957, and Maggie, born in 1959.
But as Norman and Frances’ marriage progressed, his career took off and she reportedly felt like a background character.
In an op-ed she wrote for The Times in 1981, Frances wrote that “unless she’s under 21, powerful, or a star,” a woman in Hollywood is a non-person.
The outlet reports that she once said, “We had become him.”
After nearly three decades, the couple called it quits and divorced in 1985 – although Frances told the Times it took her 15 years “to gather up the courage”.
Frances took some of her settlement money and started a women’s magazine called Lear’s in 1988.
She became an activist for women’s rights, civil rights and mental health before dying of breast cancer in 1996 at the age of 73.
Lear is now married to his third wife, Lyn Davis, and they have three children together.
He has six children in total, including one with his first wife, Charlotte Rosen.
NEW ABC SPECIAL
Norman, who turned 100 on July 27, will be celebrated in a TV special to be aired on ABC.
“I’ve always believed that music and laughter gave my life more time,” Lear said.
“I’ve seen a lot in my 100 years, but I never imagined America would have a front row seat to my birthday party.”
The special is set to feature a variety of TV stars including Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, Laverne Cox, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Kimmel and more.
Musical performances are also planned featuring Kristen Bell, Ledisi, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelly Rowland and others.
Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter airs September 22 at 9 p.m. on ABC.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6284014/norman-lear-frances-marriage-divorce-inspired-maude/ Inside Norman Lear’s marriage to wife Frances and how it inspired hit show Maude ahead of record-breaking $110 million divorce