A Legendary Innovator in TV Comedy Takes America's Principles Pretty Seriously

Television writer and producer Norman Lear is behind some of the most memorable (and hilarious) television shows of all time. Over the years, he's created such shows as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons, and Who's the Boss?

In 1981, Lear co-founded People for the American Way with late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, and a group of business, civic, religious and civil rights leaders. The organization's mission is to "promote the American Way and defend it from attack, to build and nurture communities of support for our values, and to equip those communities to promote progressive policies, elect progressive candidates, and hold public officials accountable."

Lear also has a foundation that he runs with his wife, Lyn, called the Lear Family Foundation, which has given away around $2 million lately, with interests in civil liberties, education, arts, media and more. While the foundation doesn't provide a clear way to get in touch, and doesn't have much of a web presence, here are a few must-knows:

1. Lear Has A Strong Interest in Civil Liberties

Apart from Lear's work with People For the American Way, the foundation has recently given money to outfits such as news organizations Mother Jones and ProPublica, and rights outfits Equality Now, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and Death Penalty Focus, a nonprofit "committed to the abolition of the death penalty through public education, grassroots organizing and political advocacy, media outreach, and domestic and international coalition building." Lear has also given to GLAAD, the Rape Foundation, and Planned Parenthood.

2. The Couple Is Into Environmental Philanthropy

Lear's wife, Lyn, is a social and political activist whose main passions are the arts and the environment, with a focus on climate change. The Lears, with Cindy and Alan Horn, co-founded Environmental Media Association (EMA), "a nonprofit created to inspire and coordinate an entertainment industry response to the global environmental crisis." EMA has received recent sums from the Lear Family Foundation, as well as Oceana, Heal the Bay, Rainforest Alliance, Global Green USA, NRDC, Conservation International, and 350.org, an "international effort to raise awareness of the need to decrease carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million."

3. The Couple Supports Arts and Education

Lyn is also president of Lyn Lear Productions, a trustee at Sundance Institute, and serves on the board of LACMA. Recent recipients of the Lear's giving include LACMA, Sundance Institute, Ballet Hispanico in New York, Friends of UCLA Jazz, and MusiCares.

A component of the couple's philanthropy also involves higher education, particularly local institution the University of Southern California. USC Annenberg School for Communication is the site of the Norman Lear Center, "a multidisciplinary research and public policy center dedicated to exploring the convergence of entertainment, commerce and society."

Related: Norman Lear Glitzy Giving