Norman Lear’s Daughter Shares How Her Prolific Father Kept Creativity 'All In The Family'

At 95, Lear’s fatherly advice provides wisdom for all of life’s ups and downs.

Legendary television and film producer and activist Norman Lear knows a thing or two about laughter.

He's been helping generations of Americans split sides for decades via his smart, politically minded, and hilarious hit shows, including "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons," "Maude," and “One Day at a Time” — a beloved Cuban-American version of which has just started production on its third season at Netflix.

But Lear’s greatest legacy might perhaps be lesser known.

The 95-year-old World War II vet has seen it all: cancer, divorce, grief, and war. As a kid, he even saw his father sent to prison for fraud.

And through the ups and downs, he's taught his six children the gifts of resilience and longevity through art and laughter. It seems they've taken those lessons to heart in their own creative ways.

“The only thing I like better than talking about laughter is laughing,” Lear said at the recent Art Rx Symposium 2018 at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He spoke about the joys of working with a laundry list of talents: Martha Raye, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, George Gobel, Carroll O’Connor, Sherman Hemsley, Jean Stapleton, and Bea Arthur. Throughout his more than 50 years of working in television and film, he has worked with many “who have sent tears of laughter down my cheeks.”

The forum was the first of its kind, inspired by and in celebration of the creativity, compassion, and laughter that the late actor Robin Williams delivered to the world through his acting, comedy, and general enthusiasm.

“Robin Williams could make me laugh in nooks and crannies of my body I would otherwise have never known existed,” Lear said of his late friend. “With Robin came a truth-seeking madness that was new and unique on the planet … and somehow I knew laughter was adding time to my life.”

Brianna Lear, one of Lear’s twin daughters, was part of the team of graduate students at the USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work that put on the inaugural event. The event was founded by graduate student Sydney Siegel, which was inspired by Williams in life rather than in death, though acknowledging and bringing awareness to his inner struggles was one of the goals of the symposium. The beloved actor died by suicide at the age of 63 in 2014, after experiencing Parkinson’s disease and undiagnosed Lewy body dementia.

Brianna spoke with GOOD about her father's ongoing positive influence on her life and others.

On the importance of humor in the family

“In my family — we always play charades. We always make sure to be silly and make jokes. I think that kind of creativity and humor is a huge part of our time as a family.

Growing up, we always saw plays and musical theater. Part of our time together which is, you know, maybe healthy and unhealthy [laughs], is we watch a lot of movies together. I definitely grew up as a child of the industry. My father and my Mom both really wanted me to pursue a career in acting and singing most of my life. That's what I thought I wanted to pursue.

And then I ultimately shifted gears, but it's still something that's really important to me. I am constantly reminded of the power of music and art in my own self-care. It's something I definitely miss. And I want to find ways of incorporating it more.

And so I think part of my motivation is definitely ensuring that everyone has access to the time and an opportunity to engage in art — especially children — because for me it's been my saving grace. For me, it's been my method of healing.”

On her father as a role model for the healing power of art

“I wrote my undergraduate thesis on music and emotion and the power of music in healing, and so immediately going into this program, I knew that I wanted to get involved in the arts and healing in some capacity. So I contacted Sydney [about Art Rx] and interviewed with her. Through discussing the symposium, I brought up the fact that my father has worked in the creative field and has been so prolific, and I think is such a great role model for the power of the arts in healing and health.

I know he believes that laughter is so important to health.”

On her father’s wisdom

“He has a few different phrases that he goes back and forth between.

One is ‘over and next’ — when something's over, move on to the next thing. My interpretation of that is to not dwell on past failures and to look forward. But he always talks about the space in between — living in the moment.

He always talks about the human condition. He brings it up in a lot of different contexts. He talks about how it’s hard, but we all have it, and the ability to recuperate and not internalize things too much.

I think he practices a lot of mindfulness. I don't know if he would use that word, but when you talk with him (for the most part), you can tell he’s listening [laughs]. I mean, he gets so many emails and phone calls. But for him, family is everything. I have no doubt in my mind that he would skip the Oscars or some really important event to spend time with family.”

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.


Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

Keep Reading Show less