All in the Family is an Emmy award-winning American sitcom that ran from 1971 to 1979. The show revolves around the Bunkers, a working-class family in New York. The patriarch of the Bunkers is Arthur Bunker (played by Carroll O’Connor). Described by many as a ‘loveable bigot’, Arthur is seen as a conservative struggling in the changing world. Edith Bunker (played by Jean Stapleton) is the kind-hearted but often ditzy matriarch. Living with them is their daughter Gloria Stivic (played by Sally Struthers) and her husband Mike Stivic (played by Rob Reiner). The show became a cultural phenomenon, paving the way for many sitcoms to talk about many social issues. It is still talked about decades after airing on TV.
However, many things happened behind the legendary show. The cast and actors were all linked to this show after its finale. Two of the mains left in season 8 and one of the beloved characters were killed off-screen in a socking move. Why?
Why did Mark and Gloria leave?
One of the key elements that made All in the Family so entertaining was the difficult relationship between the conservative Arthur and the liberal Mike. Their clashing viewpoints over small issues, such as the placement of socks, to larger issues made for some hilarious and poignant moments. The nickname of ‘Meathead’ that Archie calls Mike is still associated with Rob Reiner to this day.
The season 8 finale saw Mike and Gloria leave the show. This is because both Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers both wanted to pursue other projects. According to Struthers in an interview with TV Guide Magazine, they both “had bigger fish to fry.” To accommodate this wish, Mark and Gloria moved to California to New York as Mike is offered a job there in the Season 8 finale. Whilst this was both actors’ most popular role to date, they went on to have successful careers.
Rob Reiner went on to become a highly successful director and created his own film production company called Castle Rock Entertainment. Some of his best films are A Few Good Men (1992), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), and Shock and Awe (2017). Struthers went on to perform in many TV shows, films, and theatres. She starred in the spinoffs of All in the Family, Gloria (1982-1983). Struthers also appeared on Gilmore Girls (2000-2007), and is a regular performer at the Ogunquit Playhouse, in Ogunquit, Maine.
What did Jean Stapleton do after All in the Family
As Edith Bunker, known to many fans as ‘Dingbat’ for her jumpy nature, Jean Stapleton became a household name. For her work in All in the Family, Stapleton won 3 Emmy awards. However, after 8 seasons, Stapleton felt her character had reached her full potential. She also had a fear of being typecast into similar roles.
In her own words from an interview in 1979, “My identity as an actress is in jeopardy if I invested my entire career in Edith Bunker.”
Thus, after one season of the spinoff Archie Bunker’s Place (1979-1983), Edith Bunker was killed off-screen to let Stapleton leave the show.
After leaving Edith Bunker behind, Stapleton went on to star in many films and TV shows. One of her most memorable is as Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1982 film Eleanor, First Lady of the World. She also starred in minor roles in You’ve Got Mail (1998), The Great War: 1914-1918 (1996) and Everybody Loves Raymond (1996). She retired from acting in 2001, with her final role being Lorraine in Pursuit of Happiness. Her last TV film role is as Irene Silverman in Like Mother Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes (2001).
Stapleton was an outspoken activist, a strong supporter of Women’s Rights and Education. One of her most known activities was speaking to graduates about the various opportunities awaiting them. She would encourage women to pursue an education. Stapleton was also involved in various charities including Human Rights. Stapleton travelled to Russia to promote “cultural exchange” between artists living in the two nations with members of the Actors’ Equity Association. Stapleton passed away in 2013, at the age of 90.
What did Carroll O’Connor think of Archie Bunker
Carroll O’Conner was the man who brought Archie Bunker to life. In return, Archie Bunker was the role that brought the actor to fame. However, Archie was a conservative man in an ever-changing liberal world. His views were often based on ignorance, and there were plenty of times he was put down a peg or two. In short, Archie Bunker should have been a hated character. However, O’Connor’s portrayal made him a relatable man. He made Archie relatable, vulnerable, and was simply going off what he had known throughout his entire life.
Even though O’Connor was a liberal, he was never ashamed to be associated with Arthur Bunker. “It’s an image that I treasure. People say, ‘Hello, Archie’ to me on the street. That’s wonderful. That never bothered me.” O’Connor told Bob Costas during an interview.
However, as much as O’Connor loved Archie Bunker, he was aware of the character’s negative connotations. He knew there were multiple people with Archie’s views, with similar backgrounds and educations. O’Conner wanted Archie to show these bigots their views and how it looks from an outsider’s point of view. This could have been an offensive caricature of these views. However, that was never Carroll O’Conner’s goal. In his own words, “I’m making him a human being.”
O’Connor was the last of the original cast left on Archie Bunker’s Place (1979-1983) after Stapleton’s departure. After this show, O’Connor went on to star on another show In the Heat of the Night (1988-1995). His role as police chief Bill Gillespie earned him his 4th Emmy award. However, for the rest of his life, Carroll O’Connor was always associated with Archie Bunker.