Jimmy Kimmel Gets Teary Remembering ‘Genius’ Norman Lear in Emotional Tribute: ‘I Loved Him Dearly’

The 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' host honored Lear following the Hollywood's icon death at the age of 101

<p>Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic</p> Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel at the 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards

Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel at the 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards

Jimmy Kimmel mourned the loss of his friend and collaborator Norman Lear on Wednesday, a day after the Hollywood icon died at the age of 101.

The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host kicked off his long-running ABC late night show by delivering an emotional tribute to an empty studio, remembering the legendary TV writer, film producer and activist as a “genius" before sharing a hilarious letter he once received from him.

“Last night at around 7 p.m., we lost not only a giant in the world of television, but a great man who was one of the most important and impressive people I ever had the pleasure of meeting,” Kimmel, 56, began.

“Norman was the genius who brought us some of the greatest television shows and characters of all time,” he said before listing some of the series Lear created, including All in the Family, Maude, Good Times,The Facts of Life, Diff’Rent Strokes, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time and The Jeffersons (among others). “It’s an incredible list and he was an incredible person."

The comedian continued, “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.”

Related: Norman Lear's Career in Photos

Photos of the pair together then flashed up on the screen as Kimmel explained, “I was fortunate enough to work with Norman on several projects over the last five years, including live revivals of some of his greatest shows, and I loved him dearly. He was so funny.”

The star then revealed that during the 2021 holidays, he and his wife Molly McNearney sent Lear a shirt with “Norman F-ing Lear” printed on the front.

“And he loved it,” said Kimmel, before sharing the thank you note that Lear sent the couple in return.

<p>Eric McCandless via Getty</p> Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel

Eric McCandless via Getty

Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel

Related: Rob Reiner, George Clooney, Tyler Perry and More Pay Tribute to Norman Lear After His Death: We 'Lost a Titan'

“Dear Molly and Jimmy, I can’t f---ing believe this f---ing sweatshirt. It’s something I’ve always wanted more than I can f---ing tell,” he said. “You guys are the f---ing best and I wish you the dearest, sweetest, greatest f---ing holiday season in the history of holiday f---ing seasons. Signed Norman F. Lear.”

“His middle name was Milton so...” smiled Kimmel as he began to get teary. “Norman was 100 when he wrote that. He died last night at 101. 101 years and somehow, it wasn’t enough. He leaves behind his wife Lyn, a beautiful family, and a legacy that won’t ever be matched. It would be impossible. We were all lucky to have him. I hope we never forget him, or the many the lessons he taught us.”

Kimmel concluded his tribute by revealing that “one of the many, many sweets things about Norman was he never said goodbye. “He’d say, ‘To be continued,’ and ‘over and next.’ And so that’s how we’ll leave it. To be continued, over and next.”

<p>Eric McCandless via Getty </p> Norman Lear

Eric McCandless via Getty

Norman Lear

Kimmel also paid tribute to Lear in a statement to PEOPLE. It read in part, "It is obviously silly to want more time with a person who outlived a whole century but losing Norman Lear, even at 101 years old, feels unfair. His bravery, integrity and unmatched moral compass were equaled by his kindness, empathy, and wit."

The Hollywood icon died on Dec. 5 at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes, according a release from his representatives.

News of his death was also confirmed on Lear's Instagram account alongside a black-and-white photo of him smiling. In the post, Lear's team said he died "surrounded by his family as we told stories and sang songs until the very end."

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<p>Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty</p> Norman Lear

Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty

Norman Lear

Kimmel was not the only famous face remembering Lear following his death.

All in the Family star Rob Reiner shared a touching message on X (formerly known as Twitter) as he called Lear his “second father.”

“I loved Norman Lear with all my heart. He was my second father. Sending my love to Lyn and the whole Lear family,” Reiner, 76, wrote.

Meanwhile, George Clooney, who starred in Lear's The Facts of Life, said in a statement to PEOPLE, "It’s hard to reconcile that at 101 years old, Norman Lear is gone too soon. The entire world of reason just lost its greatest advocate and our family lost a dear friend. A giant walked in his shoes."

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Read the original article on People.