Comedy, Politics and Norman Lear

Norman LearOn this day in 1667, one of the great Bernoullis and teacher of Euler, Johann Bernoulli was born. Neoclassic and Romantic painter Joseph Anton Koch was born in 1768. He’s an important painter, but I don’t care much for his work. Italian composer Mauro Giuliani was born in 1781. During his lifetime, he was known as a guitar virtuoso, so many of his compositions were for guitar. Here is the Rondo is from his Opus 71:

Spanish composer Enrique Granados was born in 1867. He was a great composer—well worth checking out if you have an appreciation—as do I—for modern composition that has a strong melodic content. I usually associate this with the French with composers like Claude Debussy and Francis Poulenc. So it is nice to listen to this kind of thing with a Spanish flair. What’s more, Granados tried explicitly to create a Spanish style. This is very much the case in the following piece from his Danzas Españolas:

French writer Julien Gracq was born in 1910. Also that year, actor Fern Persons was born. She only died last year at this time and was working well into her 90s. One of my favorite character actors, Keenan Wynn was born in 1916. Here he is in one of my favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone, “A World of His Own”:

Critic Vincent Canby and composer Otar Taktakishvili were both born in 1924. Postmodern philosopher Jean Baudrillard was born in 1929. And game designer Gary Gygax was born in 1938.

Comedian Jerry Van Dyke is 82 today. And quite a fine comedic director Betty Thomas is 65. She is apparently not retiring.

The day, however, belongs to the great writer and producer Norman Lear is 91 today. He almost defined the 1970s in terms of situation comedies, having created or developed All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Maude. In a sense, he invented the modern situation comedy. Certainly a show like Modern Family owes its existence to Lear. Recently, I went back and watched the first season of All in the Family. It holds up remarkably well. Not only is the content still relevant, the humor isn’t dated. Here is a very good compilation of scenes from the show:

Happy birthday Norman Lear!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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