‘All in the Family’: Rob Reiner’s Wife Was Nearly Cast for a Major Role

by Clayton Edwards

No series embodies the phrase “They don’t make ’em like they used to,” like “All in the Family.” At this point, it’s cliché to look back and say a show like that wouldn’t fly today. However, there are few shows that fit that sentiment like this classic. Be that as it may, the show is timeless. Even if much of the humor was topical, it still holds up even decades later. It’s hard to imagine any other actors holding the iconic roles of Mike, Gloria, Archie, and Edith. However, that’s almost what happened.

“All in the Family” made Rob Reiner a household name. His character, Mike Stivic, was the perfect foil for Carroll O’Connor’s Archie Bunker. At the same time, Sally Struthers was great as Gloria Stivic, Mike’s wife, Archie’s daughter, and a constant mediator between the two. She almost didn’t play that role, though.

Penny Marshall Was Almost on “All in the Family”

Rob Reiner was engaged to Penny Marshall when he got the role of Mike on “All in the Family.” At the same time, she auditioned for the role of Gloria according to IMDb. While she didn’t land the role of Reiner’s TV wife, the couple married a few months after the iconic show premiered.

On the other hand, it’s probably a good thing that Penny Marshall didn’t land the role on “All in the Family.” If she had, she may have missed out on one of her most iconic roles. It’s hard to think of anyone else being Laverne DeFazio in “Happy Days,” “Laverne and Shirley,” and the other spinoffs that featured the character.

Other Possible Cast Members

There’s no denying that the cast of “All in the Family” is iconic. The show helped several of the actors land future roles. However, many members of the classic cast weren’t the first choice.

Rob Reiner wasn’t the first choice to play Mike. In fact, two other big-name actors were tapped for the role. Showrunners wanted Richard Dreyfuss or Harrison Ford to play Mike Stivic. Harrison Ford turned down the role because he found Archie Bunker too offensive.

Carroll O’Connor wasn’t the first choice to play Archie Bunker, either. Norman Lear, the creator of “All in the Family,” wanted Mickey Rooney to take the role. He didn’t even finish pitching the character to Rooney before he turned it down. As a matter of fact, Rooney didn’t think the show would go anywhere. He told Lear, “Norm, they’re going to kill you, shoot you dead in the streets.”

Luckily, both Rooney and Ford were wrong. “All in the Family” ran for nine seasons and inspired seven spinoff shows.