Norman Lear’s son-in-law says iconic producer passed away listening to his TV show theme songs

Credit: Peter Yang

In addition to producing some of the most iconic sitcoms in television history, Norman Lear‘s mark on pop culture was marked by those shows’ theme songs, which serenaded him in his final moments.

This news comes from Dr. Jon LaPook, a physician, CBS News’ chief medical correspondent and Lear’s son-in-law, who was there when Lear passed away at his Los Angeles home Tuesday, at the age of 101.

LaPook told CBS Mornings, “The family was gathered around the bed, he was very comfortable and resting peacefully, and we did what we knew he would want. We were singing songs from Les Mis, and also some of the songs from his TV shows.”

The theme from The Jeffersons particularly struck the physician, he recalled. “[W]e started singing ‘movin’ on up to the East Side … and I heard myself saying ‘to a deluxe apartment in the sky’ … I just lost it, because he’s going to some deluxe apartment in the sky.”

LaPook expressed, “We wanted him to have a gentle landing and have no pain. If you were to say to someone in their 40s, ‘How do you want to die?’ [They’d likely say at] 101, surrounded by loved ones, with them singing to me and laughing and without any pain, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Lear continued to work well into his 90s; he was saluted by just about everyone in Hollywood in a televised special when he passed the 100-year mark.

LaPook offered, “The secret to all that was his humanism, his interest in other people. He had something called ‘engaged curiosity.’ He had relationships with people who were super famous, but he was also just as interested in people who were not famous.”

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