As longtime soap fans know, Kimberly McCullough — who grew up on the screen as GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Robin Scorpio Drake — has spent the past several years building her resume behind the camera as a director. One of her very first directing jobs, in the summer of 2018, was on the set of the Netflix and Pop TV sitcom ONE DAY AT A TIME… where she crossed paths with the legendary television producer Norman Lear.
Lear’s company, Act III Productions, had helmed the original 1975 series and was behind the reboot as well. The legendary screenwriter and producer passed away on Dec. 5 at the age of 101 — leading McCullough to take to social media the following day to recall a special moment she shared with the Hollywood icon.
“My hat goes off to you, Sir Norman,” the former GH star began her tribute. “What a wonderful life you lived. In my very first directing job, only six weeks after having a baby, I was feeling fragile and not quite ready to get back to work. On the set of ONE DAY AT A TIME, you squeezed my chin and said, ‘Look at you! A baby directing our show.’”
The actress added that Lear’s comment wasn’t patronizing, but rather praise. “It wasn’t condescending at all,” she continued. “In fact, you seemed thrilled by how far we’d come in the industry, giving young women a seat at the table.”
At that point, McCullough turned to Lear and revealed that she was actually old enough to be a mother, having delivered her son, Otis, that June. “I replied, ‘I’m not a baby. I just had a baby,’” she explained. “You gave me a nod of approval, saying, ‘Even better. You let me know if you need anything.’”
McCullough never forgot what a class act the man who created ratings-breaking series like ALL IN THE FAMILY, SANFORD AND SON, and THE JEFFERSONS, and produced hit films like The Princess Bride and Fried Green Tomatoes was to a nervous, still-green director, who was apart from her newborn.
“That meant the world to me,” she confessed of Lear’s kindness. “Thank you for your service of the television industry, of our country, and being a stand-up human.”