I'm a very lucky man. I met Norman Lear and his lovely wife Lynn around six years ago and we became friends immediately. Even for as short a time as I've known him, I've become a better man for it. It's almost like he mentors you without knowing it, just by spending a few minutes chatting about life, politics or whatever topic comes up in conversation. I haven't talked to him in a while, but when I heard his book was ready, I emailed for a copy and within two days it was at my door. That's the type of person he is.
As many of you know, Norman Lear has lived a remarkable life. Not only was he a prolific comedy writer during the dawn of television, but the sitcoms he created in the 70's like "All In the Family," "Maude," "Good Times," "Sanford and Son," "The Jeffersons," and "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," etc, changed American television forever. He was the first to expose the nation's audiences to the reality of racial discrimination and sexual prejudices that dominated this country for many decades and to the surprise of the network bosses and the critics, the people loved every minute of it.
He's also a WWII veteran, dedicated family man and a very committed liberal of the highest order. Shocked by the rise of the televangelist movement in the '80s, he became the founder of the highly influential "People For The American Way," and at 92 years of age, he finally found the time to write down his remarkable life for all of us to read in his dynamic memoir titled: Even This I Get to Experience.
He holds nothing back when he describes his life, family, friends and those he worked with, and as Jay Weston writes: Norman Lear's New Memoir is Frank, Funny and Fascinating - Just Like the Man!
Abashed that I was not able to do the first review of the book, I called him for a copy and the publisher, Penguin Press, sent one. Not autographed (only kidding.) It arrived last Friday afternoon and I began reading, going long into the night and all through Saturday and most of Sunday. I was puzzled by the strange title: "Even This I Get to Experience." So I sent him an email asking about it, and he returned with this:
"In my ninety-plus years I've lived a multitude of lives. In the course of all these lives, I had a front-row seat at the birth of television; wrote, produced, and created or developed more than a hundred shows, had nine on the air at the same time; founded the 300,000- member liberal advocacy group People for the American Way; was labeled the 'No. 1 enemy of the American family by Jerry Farwell; made it onto Richard Nixon's 'Enemies List,' was presented with the National Medal of the Arts by President Clinton; purchased an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and toured it for ten years in all fifty states; blew a fortune in a series of bad investments in failing businesses and reached a point where I was informed we might even have to sell our home.
Having heard that we'd fallen into such dire straits, my son-in-law phoned me and asked how I was feeling. 'Terrible, of course," but then I added, 'but I must be crazy because despite all that's happened, I keep hearing this inner voice saying, 'Even this I get to experience'." And that's how Norman got the title.
Do yourself a favor and grab a copy or a download of this book. You will not be disappointed.