One of the highlights in the final chapter of Norman Lear’s legendary career were the Live In Front Of a Studio Audience specials recreating episodes from his classic sitcoms. He executive produced them with Jimmy Kimmel, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) together while also developing a close friendship.
On Wednesday night, hours after news broke that Lear had died Tuesday night at the age of 101, Kimmel opened his ABC late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live with a moving tribute to his idol and friend.
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“Norman was the genius who brought us some of the greatest television shows and characters of all time,” a visibly emotional Kimmel said, listing some of Lear’s most famous series, including All in the Family, Good Times, The Jeffersons, Maude, The Facts of Life; Diff’Rent Strokes; Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time; Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and Fernwood Tonight.
“He changed situation comedy in the best possible way – he taught us so much about so many serious things – always making us laugh while he did it – and everyone who works in or even watches television owes him a great debt. Especially me,” Kimmel added.
The late-night host then then shared a funny story about Lear’s response to a “Norman f*ckin’ Lear” sweatshirt Kimmel and his wife had sent him as a holiday gift.
“101 years and somehow, it wasn’t enough,” Kimmel said. “We were all lucky to have him. I hope we never forget him – or the many the lessons he taught us.”
Kimmel ended his tribute with a nod to one of Lear’s signature lines.
“One of the many many sweet things about Norman was – he never said goodbye. He’d say ‘to be continued’ – and ‘over and next,'” Kimmel said. “And so that’s how we’ll leave it. To be continued…over and next.”
You can watch the video of Kimmel’s remarks above.
Earlier today, Kimmel payed tribute to Lear on Instagram.
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