George Shapiro Dead: TV Icon Norman Lear Posts Heartfelt Tribute

by Joe Rutland

Famed TV producer Norman Lear offers his condolences upon hearing that producer and personal manager George Shapiro is dead. Shapiro, 91, died on Thursday at his home in Beverly Hills from natural causes. Lear took to Twitter where he shared his personal thoughts along with a photo. In it are Carl Reiner, Shapiro, Mel Brooks, and Lear himself.

“One of the dearest people I have ever known, George Shapiro, just passed,” Lear writes. “I bless our friendship and, at 99, I’m sure I’ll see him relatively soon.” Lear’s career has spanned decades with hits like All in the Family, Maude, One Day at a Time, and many others. Shapiro and his late business partner, Howard West, played pivotal roles in getting Jerry Seinfeld’s sitcom Seinfeld on the air.

George Shapiro Had Connection With Carl Reiner in His Career

The picture above does have a connection between all four men. Shapiro was a personal manager to the career of Carl Reiner, whose rise to fame started with comedian Sid Ceasar. He would go on and create and executive produce The Dick Van Dyke Show. Shapiro would be an executive producer for an animated version of the Reiner-Brooks standup routine of The 2000 Year Old Man.

Kelly Carlin, daughter of late comedian George Carlin, offered her thoughts upon Shapiro’s death. She writes on Twitter, “Heartbroken. I’ve never met a kinder and sweeter man. Always a smile & glint in his eye. His love and support of the @NtlComedyCenter let me know we’d hit a home run for comedy. Sending my best to his family & dear ones.”

Deadline reports that Shapiro was also a founding member of the National Comedy Center’s Advisory Board. “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend George Shapiro,” Executive Director Journey Gunderson said in a statement. “Beyond his extraordinary achievements as a manager and producer who guided the careers of major comedy talent,  George was a founding Advisory Board member of the National Comedy Center. He believed deeply in our mission to celebrate and preserve comedy’s heritage, and we were thrilled to welcome him to our grand opening events. We will miss him dearly.”

Manager, Producer Had Role in Andy Kaufman Film ‘Man on the Moon’

Shapiro would also be an executive producer with West for Man on the Moon starring Jim Carrey in the role of Andy Kaufman. Shapiro was Kaufman’s longtime manager. While Danny DeVito was cast as Shapiro, Shapiro played the role of Mr. Besserman, a club owner who fired Kaufman early in his career.

“George was one of the sweetest guys on the planet,” DeVito said in a statement. “We got to see that smiling face every Friday night during the ‘Taxi’ days. He never missed a show. Peace brother.”