"The laughter I've enjoyed most is laughter that has brought numbers of us together," Norman Lear tells PEOPLE

By Jen Juneau and Breanne L. Heldman
March 03, 2021 11:00 AM
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Norman Lear
| Credit: Morgan Lieberman/WireImage

At 98, Norman Lear is attributing his lasting career in Hollywood to one big integral ingredient: laughter.

While speaking with PEOPLE, the prolific television writer and producer expounds on what he meant when he said, "I've never laughed alone" upon receiving the Carol Burnett Award during Sunday's 2021 Golden Globes broadcast.

"The laughter I've enjoyed most is laughter that has brought numbers of us together," says Lear, who is known for creating groundbreaking comedy series such as All in the FamilyThe Jeffersons and Good Times.

Asked about whether he thinks laughter has kept him young or made him ageless, the six-time Emmy Awards winner noted that he knows "from the history of humankind that there's no such thing as ageless."

However, "I'm sure laughter has added time to my life as a result of the way it has satisfied every part of me," he adds.

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norman lear, Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor
Norman Lear, Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor on All in the Family
| Credit: CBS via Getty

Lear, who is launching a new YouTube channel called The Norman Lear Effect, tells PEOPLE his children and grandchildren were fans of his heartfelt speech at the Golden Globes, which he began in part by saying, "It knocks me out to be introduced by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey."

Adding that he "could not feel more blessed," Lear went on to commend Carol Burnett, for whom the award is named, saying "nobody has made me laugh harder."

Lear thanked several of his creative partners from throughout his iconic career before going on to say, "Then, of course, there's my family: Lyn Davis Lear, five glorious daughters and my wonderful son, ranging in ages from 26 to 74," as well as "my four fabulous grandchildren."

"At close to 99, I can tell you that I've never lived alone, I've never laughed alone and that has as much to do with my being here today as anything else I know," Lear continued.

"And once more, thank you and bless you Carol Burnett for everything you have meant to me by way of joy, surprise, delight and laughter," he added of the legendary actress, 87. "So glad we had this time together."

norman lear
Norman Lear in 1979
| Credit: Joan Adlen/Getty

For his contributions to television, Lear — a World War II veteran — has earned six Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, two Writers Guild of America Awards, a GLAAD Media Pioneer Award, an Oscar nomination and many more.

Lear has also long been a political activist and philanthropist — something he has incorporated into many of his shows, having broached controversial topics and pushing societal norms well before it was accepted.

Along with discussing his illustrious career, PEOPLE also has a first look at the trailer for The Norman Lear Effect YouTube channel, which will serve as a one-stop destination for fans to discover hilarious compilation clips, as well as uncover behind-the-scenes content from his iconic shows, including All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times and Maude.

In the trailer, Lear says, "I've been making television for many years — as a writer, director, producer and, most importantly, as a storyteller."

Before a series of clips from his most famous works is shown, Lear adds, "My characters have lived a multitude of lives, as have I. And our stories are crafted by writers, cast and crew, but are made real through emotion. When that happens, that moment is wonderful."