All in the Family might’ve been the best comedy series ever on television. The show ran from 1971-79 and was so popular that it stayed No. 1 in the ratings for six straight years.
The show was funny and pertinent. It addressed society’s biggest issues head on, usually through the eyes of Archie Bunker, everybody’s favorite curmudgeon.
Whatever happened to the actors who played Archie and Edith, Gloria and Michael? Were they forever typecast? Check it out:
Carroll O’Connor Stayed Relevant Long After Archie
Carroll O’Connor played Archie, the blue-collar worker living with his family in Queens. O’Connor won four Emmys for portraying Archie. And he will forever be known as that character. But O’Connor had a significant television run, post All In The Family.
He starred in the drama series “In the Heat of the Night.” That show ran from 1988-75. O’Connor played the role of police chief Bill Gillespie. And he picked up another Emmy for playing the law officer from Sparta, Miss. O’Connor also had a reoccurring role in Mad About You, playing Jamie’s dad.
O’Connor’s son, Hugh, had a part on “In the Heat of the Night.” Hugh O’Connor committed suicide in 1995. Carroll O’Connor started doing public service announcements to promote awareness of drug addition. And he also lobbied for a law to allow relatives of an addicted person to file suit against drug dealers. California passed the law, which is named for O’Connor’s son.
O’Connor died in 2001. Most of the All In The Family cast attended his funeral. So did his best friend Larry Hagman, known to the world as J.R. Ewing in Dallas.
Jean Stapleton Was No “Dingbat”
Archie Bunker loved his wife, Edith. But he had nicknames for her, often referring to Edith as a “dingbat.” Jean Stapleton played devoted wife, Edith, to perfection. She won three Emmys for her role. Stapleton continued playing Edith in the show’s spinoff, Archie Bunker’s Place. But she wanted off the show, so writers killed off Edith. In the first episode of the second season, the family revealed Edith died of a stroke.
Her first meaty, non-Edith role earned her an Emmy nomination. She played Eleanor Roosevelt in the TV movie “Eleanor and the World.” However, she declined the role of Jessica Fletcher, the main character in the long-running show “Murder She Wrote.”
Further, she played guest roles in a number of popular TV shows, including Murphy Brown, The Love Boat, Scarecrow and Mrs King and Everybody Loves Raymond. She also co-starred with Whoopi Goldberg in the show “Bagdad Cafe.”
Stapleton played the ditzy, sometimes subservient, wife on All In The Family. But during the run of the show, she devoted herself to women’s causes, campaigning for the Equal Right’s amendment.
Stapleton died in May, 2013. She was 90. She also was a well-known stage actress. Broadway theaters dimmed their lights for one minute to honor Stapleton’s memory.
So What Happened to “Meathead” from All in the Family?
Michael Stivic often triggered Archie, his father-in-law. The two constantly were arguing. Rob Reiner played the meaty role of Michael, who Archie affectionately called “Meathead.” Actor Richard Dreyfus wanted the part. And Harrison Ford, who still was a few years away from Star Wars and Han Solo, turned it down because he didn’t like Archie’s character.
Reiner, who is the son of the late Hollywood icon Carl Reiner, won two Emmys for playing Michael. But since All In The Family, Rob Reiner is best known for his quality work behind-the-scebes.
He directed movies like “A Few Good Men,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “Stand By Me.” Other movies on his resume are “This Is Spinal Tap,” “The Princess Bride,” “Misery” and “The American President.”
Reiner married actress Penny Marshall in 1971. Marshall played Laverne on “Laverne and Shirley.” And she directed a number of movies including “A League of Their Own.” The couple divorced in 1981. Marshall died in 2018.
Michael Stivic’s politics were liberal on All In The Family. And Reiner is the same way in real life. Check out his Twitter account.
Did You Know: Sally Struthers Wasn’t Original Gloria
Sally Struthers thought that Penny Marshall would land the role of Gloria, the daughter of Archie and Edith. And actress Candice Azzara played Gloria in the pilot. But the part was recast — Struthers was happy to take it. She stayed on through the spinoffs “Archie Bunker’s Place” and “Gloria,” which ran from 1982-83.
Struthers was well known for her commercials for the Christian Children’s Fund. And most of her acting work post-Gloria, was voice acting in animated TV shows. She did co-star in “Gilmore Girls” as Babette, one of the citizens of Stars Hollow.
You’re caught up now on the All In The Family cast. Want to read more Outsider coverage about the show? Check out this article about creator Norman Lear.