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Happy Birthday: Legendary TV producer Norman Lear turns 100

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

In the '70s, sitcoms like "All In The Family," "The Jeffersons" and "Good Times" dominated the airwaves. Yes, they were funny, but they also dared to do what no other show did at the time - address polarizing social issues, gun rights, abortion, racism. It was all on the table.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ALL IN THE FAMILY")

SHERMAN HEMSLEY: (As George Jefferson) See, that's the trouble with you people. You always think...

CARROLL O'CONNOR: (As Archie Bunker) Hold it, hold it, hold it. Who are you calling you people? You people are you people.

FADEL: Those shows all came from the mind of legendary producer Norman Lear.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Today, he turns 100. Lear's career as a showrunner got off to a rocky start. It took him three years to get "All In The Family" on the air. He was asked where he got the confidence to keep pushing for the show.

NORMAN LEAR: Can you say beats the [expletive] out of me on NPR?

FADEL: The first season didn't perform well, but it became the most-watched show on television and spawned seven different spinoffs. And Lear stayed busy. He produced almost 20 more shows in the '80s and '90s.

MARTINEZ: And just a few years ago, he earned a few more Emmy nominations for the re-imagination of his show from the '70s, "One Day At A Time." The updated version stars Rita Moreno as the matriarch of a Cuban American family.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ONE DAY AT A TIME")

RITA MORENO: (As Lydia Riera) You are throwing away your Cuban heritage.

ISABELLA GOMEZ: (As Elena Alvarez) Yeah, the bad part. I don't want to be paraded around in front of the men of the village like a piece of property to be traded for two cows and a goat.

MORENO: (As Lydia Riera) Someone thinks they're worth a lot.

FADEL: A century in, Lear has no intention of slowing down. Last year, TBS announced it would be remaking Lear's syndicated series "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," which he is set to executive produce.

MARTINEZ: For all his past success, Lear is more interested in the present.

LEAR: You know, two little words we don't pay enough attention to - over and next. When something is over, it is over and we are on to next. And I like to think about the hammock in the middle of those two words. That's living in the moment. That's the moment I believe I'm living as I complete this sentence, and it couldn't be more important to me.

MARTINEZ: Happy birthday, Norman Lear. How about you give us another hundred years?

(SOUNDBITE OF JOAQUIN SANCHEZ'S "EXPECTATIVAS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.