Norman Lear just turned 100 and worries he’s in ‘better shape than our democracy is’

Norman Lear, the legendary television writer and producer, turned 100 on Wednesday.

The industry titan is known for being the king of the sitcom, having created hit shows such as “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons,” “One Day at a Time” and “Good Times.”

The six-time Emmy winner decided to celebrate his birthday week by bouncing between interviews, op-eds and personal reflections.

“I like getting up in the morning,” he told People for a story published Wednesday. “I have always liked it because I’ve always had something to do. I was born that way, and it is a great gift. As I talk about it, I accept it as a gift.”

In a New York Times op-ed, also published Wednesday, Lear reflected on his life and the “alarming” condition of the U.S.

“Reaching my own personal centennial is cause for a bit of reflection on my first century — and on what the next century will bring for the people and country I love,” Lear wrote. “To be honest, I’m a bit worried that I may be in better shape than our democracy is.”

The centenarian was “deeply troubled” by the Jan. 6 riots and supporters of former President Donald Trump.

“I am a flag-waving believer in truth, justice and the American way, and I don’t understand how so many people who call themselves patriots can support efforts to undermine our democracy and our Constitution,” Lear lamented.

While he has felt “disheartened” by the current wave of politics and culture, he expressed hope for the future.

“But I do not lose faith in our country or its future. I remind myself how far we have come. I think of the brilliantly creative people I have had the pleasure to work with in entertainment and politics,” Lear wrote. “Those encounters renew my belief that Americans will find ways to build solidarity on behalf of our values, our country and our fragile planet.”

In an Instagram post Tuesday, Lear serenaded his followers with “That’s Amore,” the classic tune famously performed by his longtime friend and collaborator Dean Martin.

“The miracle of being alive with everything that’s available to us and me turning 100 tomorrow,” Lear said in the video. “That’s as believable to me as today I’m 99.”

The TV writer concluded his early-morning ruminations by telling his 46,000 Instagram followers to “treasure [this moment], use it with love.”

This idea of living in the moment has been a staple throughout Lear’s storied run.

Speaking with NPR’s Morning Edition Wednesday, Lear highlighted the mindset that has guided him.

“You know, two little words we don’t pay enough attention to — over and next. When something is over, it is over and we are on to next,” Lear said. “And I like to think about the hammock in the middle of those two words. That’s living in the moment. That’s the moment I believe I’m living as I complete this sentence, and it couldn’t be more important to me.”

In addition to this mantra, he has continued to use laughter as his medicine.

Lear shared the secret to his longevity with CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jonathan LaPook.

“I think love and laughter are it!” Lear noted. “Laughter is the gift of the gods & there are people in this world that I have worked with & viewed and so forth who have made me laugh in places in my body I would not otherwise have known existed!”

Stars throughout the industry took to social media to celebrate the TV icon’s impressive milestone.

“GOAT gets thrown around a lot, but it’s important we preserve its meaning so that it can be applied appropriately to people like Norman Lear,” tweeted film executive Franklin Leonard.

“Happiest of birthdays to the legend, Norman Lear!!!!!” tweeted “Better Call Saul” actor Rhea Seehorn.

“Happy Birthday to literally my oldest friend who turns 100 today!” tweeted “The Princess Bride” star Cary Elwes. “This wonderful person, @TheNormanLear⁦⁩, is responsible for creating the modern American sitcom and producing a little movie called #ThePrincessBride which changed my life forever. We love you Norman.”

Actor-filmmaker Rob Reiner also chimed in.

“I am overwhelmed by personal feelings today. My father [Carl Reiner], who passed away 2 years ago, is being honored at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY,” Reiner tweeted. “In Vermont, celebrating with his family, my other father figure, Norman Lear turns 100. So grateful for these two guiding lights.”

And actor Holland Taylor also paid her respects.

“Happy 100th Birthday to the most alive in the moment man I know ~ a thoughtful man living a purposeful life, a genius show biz giant, a citizen and patriot, an entertainer, a great family man, a leader, an inspiration, still, to this day ~ Norman Lear,” she tweeted. “Can never thank you enough.”

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