Norman Lear turns 100 and shares the meaning of life

The living legend of television has spent his life doling out lessons, so when granted the opportunity to converse with him via email ahead of his 100th birthday, what was there to ask?

Does he know the meaning of life? “Yes, the meaning of life can be expressed in one word: tomorrow.” What pieces of advice does he have that stand out above the rest? “There are 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. Between those words, we live in the moment, make the most of them.” Does he consider a hot dog to be a sandwich? “I consider a hot dog to be a personal delight.”

His birthday is Wednesday. He planned to spend it in Vermont “at what I call our Yiddish Hyannis Port with all my kids and grandkids. At the moment, I feel like I could do a second 100.”

ABC will honor Lear on Sept. 22, with what it promises will be a “star-studded” special titled, “Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter.”

A second 100 would certainly be welcome. At the very least, as actress Rita Moreno suggests, when asked this week to talk about Lear’s milestone birthday, “I wish there was a way that they could make copies of him. Wouldn’t that be marvelous? … What a super, super addition to the human race he is.”

Or, as his longtime friend Mel Brooks put it, via email: “Norman has so much to give us, I don’t think 100 is nearly enough.”

By all accounts, he is one of the most important figures in modern pop culture — so much so that by now, you probably already know everything you should about Norman Lear.

You probably know of his tremendously prolific spell creating and producing some of the most vital TV sitcoms in the 1970s such as “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons,” “One Day at a Time” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”