The 'All in the Family' actor was a father to six kids: Ellen, Kate, Maggie, Benjamin, Brianna and Madelaine
He was a father to six children — Ellen, Kate, Maggie, Benjamin, Brianna and Madelaine — and four grandchildren.
The All in the Family actor welcomed his kids throughout three marriages: He shares daughter Ellen with ex-wife Charlotte Rosen; daughters Kate and Maggie with ex Frances Lear (née Loeb); and son Benjamin and daughters Brianna and Madelaine with his third wife, Lyn Lear, whom he married in 1987.
Speaking with GOOD at the Art Rx Symposium 2018, Norman's daughter Brianna shared that her dad made sure art and music were at the heart of her upbringing. “Growing up, we always saw plays and musical theater ... we watch a lot of movies together,” she said.
"He is also a person who sees the opportunity in each day to meet someone new, eat something new, discover something new," she wrote at the time. "There is a childlike innocence and curiosity that are as present in him at 100 as they were at 10."
Benjamin also opened up about his home life with Norman and his siblings. In a joint 2016 interview with his father for the Los Angeles Times, he said, “We’re proud of each other.”
Here is everything we know about Norman Lear’s children.
Ellen Lear, 76
Norman and Rosen welcomed their daughter Ellen in 1947, and she has lived most of her life out of the spotlight. She began her career as a graphic designer before earning her master of social work and becoming a therapist. Ellen pursued this line of work for 15 years through a private practice in New York City.
After her career as a therapist, she moved to Shelter Island, New York, where she bought a 36-acre equestrian facility. In 2011, Ellen joined Pal-O-Mine, where she works as an Eagala Certified Mental Health practitioner, an Equine Specialist and a volunteer photographer for the organization.
Ellen joined the organization’s board of directors in 2014.
Kate Lear, 66
Kate is the oldest daughter of Norman and Frances. She is a writer and the board chair of Ballet Hispánic, and she is also much more public-facing than her older sister. Kate is married to CBS News chief medical correspondent Jonathan LaPook, M.D., with whom she shares two sons.
In 2015, she reflected on her childhood during an interview with PBS and shared her earliest memories of her dad, one of which was of him writing.
"He is in the zone and in his office, and I smell a little bit of ... pipe coming out. He’s barricaded for a couple of days and then he emerges with this beautiful piece of writing,” Kate said.
She also shared that her family had dinner every night while growing up because it was important to Norman.
Outside of their home, Kate had a role on her dad’s show All in the Family. As she told PBS, she and her father would often perform a routine together for the show — and she soon became aware of his fame after fans started waiting outside the studio to get his autograph following a taping.
In 2022, Kate wrote an essay for PBS in honor of her father’s 100th birthday. She credited her father’s “in-born optimism” with his long life and “his profound interest in people and in the world.”
Maggie Lear, 64
Maggie is Norman and Frances' second child together. She is the president of The Frances Lear Foundation, which focuses on democracy, the environment, arts education and criminal justice reform.
She also volunteers at the non-profit organization Bottomless Closet, which supports women who need assistance as they enter the workforce, helping with job readiness skills. Additionally, Maggie is the board chair of Youth Represent and a member of The Justice Fund at The New York Women’s Foundation.
According to her biography on Common Justice, she is a clinical social worker who has counseled several groups of people.
Benjamin Lear, 35
Norman and Lyn welcomed their son Benjamin, who often goes by Ben, in 1988.
In a 2016 joint interview with the Los Angeles Times, Norman and Ben spoke fondly of one another. Ben admitted that he wasn’t very familiar with his father’s television shows from the 1970s while growing up, and he and his dad bonded over South Park instead. Norman voiced Benjamin Franklin in the Comedy Central animated sitcom.
The pair were interviewed to speak about They Call Us Monsters, a documentary that served as Ben’s directorial debut, and Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, a documentary about Norman's life. Ben told the publication, “The fact that I’m putting my first thing out and they’re both documentaries — there’s a synergy there that feels really special to me.”
Ben also spoke about the age difference he and his dad share. Norman was 66 years old when he was born, but Ben said he would not change anything about their relationship.
“I think we’ve both reached levels of self-awareness that have allowed us to look at the past with totally clear eyes and have a really authentic relationship," he shared. "He’s 93 and I’m 27 and we can trade stories about, ‘Man, I just figured this thing out about myself the other day.’ "
Madelaine and Brianna Lear, 29
Norman and Lyn welcomed their twin daughters, Madelaine and Brianna, in 1994. The Buffalo News reported that the girls were born via surrogate.
While Madelaine mostly stays out of the spotlight, Brianna, a social worker who graduated from the University of Southern California, told GOOD that her father has always positively impacted her.
"For him, family is everything," she said. "I have no doubt in my mind that he would skip the Oscars or some really important event to spend time with family.”
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