‘Happy Days’: How Marion Ross Became ‘Good Pals’ with ‘All in the Family’ Star Jean Stapleton

by Chris Haney

Two of television’s most famous mothers became good friends while working on play together, according to Happy Days star Marion Ross.

Ross wrote a book titled My Days: Happy or Otherwise, which released in 2018. While promoting the book, she sat down with The Los Angeles Beat for a career spanning interview where she discussed her decades-long Hollywood career.

During their conversation, the reporter got Ross to open up about becoming friends with Jean Stapleton who played Edith Bunker on All in the Family. The two famous TV moms worked together on a national tour of the play Arsenic and Old Lace. Although the two actresses didn’t immediately click, they eventually became “good pals.”

“It took a long time for the two of us to get to know each other because she was very serious,” Ross said of her friendship with Stapleton to The L.A. Beat. “You wouldn’t know that about her… She’s a wonderful person and wonderful actress! So, we toured with Arsenic and Old Lace with Larry Storch playing Doctor [Einstein] and Jonathan Frid [as nephew Jonathan]… We were out for like a whole year, and I had never done that before; been on a national tour of a play! And that was wonderful. That’s when we bonded so well, became such good pals.”

The ‘Happy Days’ and ‘All in the Family’ Stars Took Tango Lessons Together

The two television stars got to know each other well while on the road together for a year. The pair bonded over trips to the museum and art galleries while in various cities across the nation. Additionally, the Happy Days star said during their time alone together they’d talk about their life, which brought them closer to one another.

“We would fly and then get in these big limos, and Jean and I would go to all the art galleries,” Ross explained. “We’d go Washington D.C., and we would do all the art museums together. Being alone in a limousine… we would talk and she would tell me things about her life and herself. And that’s how you began to really bond, in the dark, telling each other secrets.”

The duo became “best friends” while on the road and always had a good time together outside of the play. Although Ross and Stapleton never worked together again after the play, they stayed close for years.

“In fact, all three of us and the stage manager all took Tango lessons. When we were in San Francisco we’d take Tango lessons… and so we always had a good time. I always had a good time with everything. But she was one of my best friends!” Ross added.