Frances Lear, born Frances Loeb on November 14, 1923, in New York City, was a remarkable woman who left an indelible mark as a magazine editor, publisher, writer, and activist.
Most notably, she gained recognition as the second wife of television producer Norman Lear.
Early Life and Career
Frances Lear began her professional journey as a buyer for women’s sportswear at the renowned Lord & Taylor. Her early career laid the foundation for her future success as she navigated the dynamic world of fashion and retail.
Marriage to Norman Lear
In 1956, Frances Lear tied the knot with television producer Norman Lear in Las Vegas. This union marked the beginning of a significant chapter in both of their lives.
Frances played a pivotal role in the development of Norman Lear’s iconic sitcoms, including the groundbreaking “All in the Family,” “Maude,” and “Good Times.”
Divorce and Post-Divorce Success
Frances Lear’s divorce from Norman in 1985 made headlines, particularly due to the substantial $112 million settlement she received. This divorce settlement was one of the largest of its time.
Undeterred by the challenges, Frances embarked on a new chapter of success.
In 1988, she founded Lear’s magazine, a publication tailored for women over 50. This venture showcased her entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to providing a platform for older women in media.
Beyond her role in media, Frances Lear became a prominent activist, advocating for the women’s movement, civil rights, and mental health. Her dedication to social causes reflected a deep commitment to positive societal change.
Frances Lear’s legacy extends far beyond her roles as a magazine editor and television producer’s wife.
She is remembered as a successful businesswoman who broke barriers in women’s media, leaving an impact on an industry that often overlooked older demographics.
Her influence even transcended the media landscape, as she played a significant role in inspiring the character of Maude Findlay on the sitcom “Maude.”
Frances Lear’s autobiography, “The Second Seduction,” published in 1992, provides a candid glimpse into her life, offering insights into her personal and professional journey.