Eight seasons prove to be enough for Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner, who decided to leave All in the Family as their contracts were up.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for five decades, Struthers plays Gloria Stivic while Reiner plays Mike Stivic. Most fans, though, know Reiner by his nickname “Meathead,” given to him by Archie Bunker, who was played by Carroll O’Connor.
Struthers said in an interview with TV Guide that she and Reiner left “because we had other fish we wanted to fry.”
“Jean (Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker) left the following year,” Struthers said. “As I was leaving, I remember saying to her, ‘I hope this isn’t the biggest mistake of my life.’
‘All in the Family’ Not Last Stop For Struthers
“She (Stapleton) said, “Oh Sally darling, you started in theater,” Struthers said. “‘It doesn’t much matter what happens in this world of television or film, the theater will always welcome you back with open arms because it’s your home.'”
In an ironic twist of fate, Struthers said in the interview she was doing theater when she heard about Stapleton’s death.
“I had just been up to visit a mountain and I was coming down the mountain when my phone rang with someone telling me that she was gone,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, I suppose having just sat at the top of a mountain looking at beautiful scenery for an hour, this is a peaceful time for me to hear this.'”
After both Struthers and Reiner left the show, producers added now-former child actor Danielle Brisebois to the cast. Brisebois played Stephanie Mills on All in the Family and its spinoff, Archie Bunker’s Place. After leaving acting, Brisebois was one of two permanent members of the rock band New Radicals. They had a big hit with “You Get What You Give.”
Rob Reiner Says ‘No Acting’ Involved In Final Show
Reiner sat down to remember some of the days spent on All in the Family. One episode, though, stands out and it happens to be the final one for him.
“The Stivics Move West” shows Gloria and Mike moving from New York to California. It symbolically marks the time the two actors leave the show, yet it also brings a close to eight years together.
Yes, on the All in the Family episode, Archie and Mike have an argument. Nothing new there. When Gloria and Mike prepare to leave, there’s a scene between O’Connor and Reiner that is pure emotion.
“The scene where we say goodbye to each other, there was no acting,” Reiner said. “There was just no acting. You didn’t have to act. I mean, I looked at Carroll…I’ll never forget it because it was one of those times when you don’t act because all of your emotions just come out.”
Both of them share their mutual respect and love for one another. After sharing a hug, Mike and Gloria get into a taxi and leave. It closes the book on an eight-year journey that saw all four break barriers in different ways.