Even This I Get To Experience
On Sale: October 14, 2014
Hardcover / e-Book
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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, 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 Falwell; 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
Having heard that we’d fallen into such dire straits, my
son-in-law phoned me and asked how I was feeling. My answer
was, “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.’”
Norman Lear’s work is legendary. The renowned creator of
such iconic television programs as All in the Family; Maude;
Good Times; The Jeffersons; and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,
Lear remade our television culture from the ground up. At
their peak, his programs were viewed by 120 million people a
week, with stories that dealt with the most serious issues
of the day—racism, poverty, abortion —yet still left
audiences howling with laughter.
In EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE, Lear opens up with all the
candor, humor, and wisdom to be expected from one of
America’s greatest living storytellers.
But TV and politics are only a fraction of the tale. Lear’s
early years were grounded in the harshness of the Great
Depression, and further complicated by his parents’ vivid
personalities. The imprisonment of Lear’s father, a believer
in the get-rich-quick scheme, colored his son’s childhood.
During this absence, Lear’s mother left her son to live with
Lear’s comic gifts were put to good use during this hard
time, even as they would be decades later during World War
II, when Lear produced and staged a variety show for his
fellow airmen in addition to flying fifty bombing missions.
After the war, Lear tried his hand at publicity in New York
before setting out for Los Angeles in 1949. A lucky break
had a powerful agent in the audience the night Danny Thomas
performed a nightclub routine written by Lear, and within
days his career in television began. Before long his work
with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (and later Martha Raye and
George Gobel) made him the highest-paid comedy writer in the
country, and he was spending his summers with the likes of
Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. Movies followed, and soon he was
making films starring Frank Sinatra, Dick Van Dyke, and
Then came the ’70s, and Lear’s unprecedented string of TV hits.
Married three times and the father of six children ranging
in age from nineteen to sixty-eight, Lear’s penetrating look
at family life, parenthood, and marriage is a volume in itself.
A memoir as touching, funny, and remarkable as any of Lear’s
countless artistic creations, EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE
is nothing less than a profound gift, endlessly readable and
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