Sunday, June 02, 2013

Jean Stapleton Has Died

Jean Stapleton, the character actress whose portrayal of a slow-witted, big-hearted and submissive — up to a point — housewife on the groundbreaking series “All in the Family” made her, along with Mary Tyler Moore and Bea Arthur, not only one of the foremost women in television comedy in the 1970s but a symbol of emergent feminism in American popular culture, died on Friday at her home in New York City. She was 90.  For more on her life, The NY Times has a great obituary you can read here.

36 comments:

Nutty_Flavor said...

Don't want to downgrade her achievements, but "All in The Family" hasn't aged very well in terms of contemporary viewing. Maybe it was just too topical and rooted in the early 1970s. But I don't hear people influenced by it or making fond references to it, the way they mention, for example, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", "The Jeffersons", "Star Trek", or even "I Love Lucy."

HannahBanana said...

Yea, Archie Bunkers forte was certainly NOT political correctness or sensitivity....but I always liked Edith..rip lady.

B626 said...

In some of the later episodes she really got back in Archie's face. I was just a teen but I liked it!

Robert said...

People who weren't born or who hadn't matured by that era can have no idea of the impact of that show. "Archie" couldn't have been Archie as depicted without Jean Stapleton's "Edith." She was a brilliant actress, and by all accounts a truly decent, warmhearted human being, and she will be missed.

Waterslide said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadLyb said...

I still love "All in the Family". I watched some episodes a couple months ago and realized that nothing has changed really (politically speaking). It really was very controversial and cutting edge back in the day. Oddly, my mom let me watch that, but not, "Barney Miller" or "Dallas".

Jean Stapleton was iconic in that role. I'm going to watch the two-parter, "Edith's Crisis in Faith" in her honor today. RIP, dear, talented lady.

Anna Nomys said...

I too was shocked the first couple of times I watched all in the family, but it found an audience and seemed to reflect what was going on in America at the time, that the world and attitudes were changing, that the usual preconcieved judgements didn't work anymore, and it showed a small minded man flailing and thrashing around in his home in the outmoded mindset. I read her Obit and liked it, I hadn't realised that in her quiet, submissive way that she had actually made her rebellions that much more powerful, that was what was going on at the time apparently, and people connected to it. Would it work today? Hell no. But what t.v shows from other era's DO still work for today? Maybe shows from the eighties and nineties, but not sure seventies shows would stand up nowadays.

TS said...

Don't want to downgrade her achievements, but "All in The Family" hasn't aged very well in terms of contemporary viewing. Maybe it was just too topical and rooted in the early 1970s. But I don't hear people influenced by it or making fond references to it, the way they mention, for example, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", "The Jeffersons", "Star Trek", or even "I Love Lucy."

***

With all due respect, you should go back and watch a few episodes of All in the Family and give them another try if you think it didn't age well or could stand up before a contemporary audience. They're talking about the same exact social issues we're talking about today -- because we haven't gotten them right yet, 40 years later. Also, I hear people making fond references to All in the Family all the time -- you should hang out with me! But I also hear references from family and friends and random people on the internet, too. And it's people who get that it's satire, and that Archie Bunker is not a role model. It wasn't "politically correct", but that was the point. I don't think anyone would have the guts to put something like that on the air now. The issues are still plaguing us, but the satirical political commentary is lacking.

RIP, Jean Stapleton

fancyscreenname said...

Loved Edith.

:^(

timebob said...

She looked like my grandmother so I have a warm place in my heart for her :(

auntliddy said...

Rip jean.
Its funny when i first watched all in family, i was mike and glorias age, and saw it from their point of view. Viewing it now tho, i understand her parents views much better, lol. Obviousky not archies preudices, but their points of view about work, etc.

iknowpeople said...

TS, thanks for saying what I planned to write.

janele said...

I was too young to understand why "All in the Family" was controversial; I just knew that I did not like Archie at all. Loveable, my ass. My parents liked it.

I had no idea that "All in the Family" had a lot of spin-offs, which I did watch:

--"Maude", which also had a spin-off, "Good Times"

--And of course, "The Jeffersons"

And some other shows I did not watch.

RIP Edith

msgirl said...

Agree with TS, just recently I watched a couple of episodes and was actually surprised how well it stood up to time.

I remember watching that growing up and I was so shocked that the woman who played Edith didn't really talk like that, and wasn't dumb at all! Stapleton was the first to show me just what a great actress could do.

I was so sad when I read the news yesterday, but she lived a long and hopefully happy life.

Merlin D. Bear said...

RIP Ms. Stapleton.

janele said...

Also (from Wikipedia):

"[Archie Bunker is] ... an outspoken bigot, seemingly prejudiced against everyone who is not a U.S.-born, politically conservative, heterosexual White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male, and dismissive of anyone not in agreement with his view of the world."

Nope, no sirree. Not a contemporary viewpoint at all.

Snowy Owls said...

I never really thought about it but it's true that this type of programming wouldn't be aired today. They did a wonderful job of taking a controversial topic and openly discussing aspects of that topic. They were not afraid to tackle unpleasant issues as people are afraid to today. It was edutainment for the viewing audience.

DewieTheBear said...

Yup, a woman is writing these entries.

Momster said...

I read that she received condolences for the loss of her "husband" when Carroll O'Connor passed away from hundreds of fans. I'm always stunned how some folks can't separate fantasy from reality.

RIP, Mrs. Stapleton.

Ooohhhhh. . .

PookieTwo said...

Joining the chorus of support for AITF here, one of the all-time great classic shows in tv history. I was housebound a few yrs ago and caught some eps on cable, was surprised how well it stood up decades later; more importantly was belly laughing out loud the entire time something I haven't done watching tv in long time.

Made all the more viewable by its two leads, Stapleton & O'Connor, who were brilliant. People forget that O'Connor the actor was the polar opposite personally, socially, & politically from Archie, making his portrayal all the more remarkable.

River said...

RIP, Edith. @Janele, spot on! @SnowyOwls, so right. I've a friend who thinks The Daily Show is real news like Fox.

Nutty_Flavor said...

Glad to see a lot of posters enjoy "All in the Family", but I stand by my original viewpoint that it has not been particularly influential (except for its very influential spin-offs!) and is almost unwatchable today - and yes, I have seen it recently.

Archie Bunker is indeed a right-wing bigot, written broadly and cartoonishly by people diametrically opposed to everything he stands for. It's like having the Fox News team write a sitcom about a single mother on welfare.

Have to admit that I prefer humor where comics riff off their own humanity and their own weaknesses, instead of bashing an "other" as a form of political self-congratulation.

librariantobe said...

Never seen All in the Family, the only thing I know her from is Neil Simon's Plaza Suite movie which she was great in. RIP.

Lisa said...

I can remember watching this growing up as my dad absolutely loved this show. Is why he started calling me little girl lol because Archie called his daughter Gloria that when he was frustrated.
Two programs always stood out in my mind was the breast cancer story line as it showed both the depth of the love that Edith and Archie had for each other and also brought breast cancer into homes that some that didn't often want to talk about it. The other was when Edith slapped Archie, the shock on both of their faces when she did it was so priceless and was perfect!

Robin the Mad Photographer said...

I'm old enough to remember when the show first started, and how it changed with the years, and I'd like to point out that all the characters, especially Archie, became far less cartoonish and much more believable over time. It was definitely more satiric in the beginning, but as time went by (and, I dare say, the actors put their own stamps on their roles), it was evident that Archie, in spite of being a blowhard, was at heart a good guy who loved his family and was trying to deal with issues and social changes the likes of which he (and the country as a whole) had never really dealt with before. Likewise, Edith became less of a "dingbat", showing that while she might be naive and uneducated, she wasn't stupid, and was also loving and very protective of those in her "family", blood kin and otherwise. I'd say that while the first season or so may not have aged so well due to the characters being such shrill stereotypes, the later seasons can definitely hold their own.

just curious said...

I've seen old episodes of Maude. All she did was bitch,moan and complained. Supposed to be pioneering feminist television but what true feminist has a black maid ????? Just another white woman whining about petty shit, no wonder Walter was messing around .

Renoblondee said...

@Robin ITA with your post!

blue sky said...

Edith and Archie were a part of my childhood memories. It was my dad's favorite show, and the one show besides the Carol Burnett Show, that would make him laugh out loud. I also believed Ms. Stapleton to be a wonderful actress because Edith was nothing like her at all. Rest in Peace.

Bailey Quarters said...

A lot of Archie's reactions are because of his fears of a world that is rapidly changing and that he just doesn't understand. The theme song really explains this. It's a lot better than some of the truly awful television shows that are on nowadays.

AndrewBW said...

Best TV series ever.

NaughtyNurse said...

One of the GREATEST shows EVER created. Brilliantly written, acted and directed. Eeeeeedith!!! Oh, Aawrchie! If you don't hear people say they were influenced by it or referring to it fondly, then you are simply hanging out with the wrong people.

sugarbread maker said...

when I saw her photo I thought that was lena dunham

fancyscreenname said...

Sometimes when I am putting on my daughters socks and shoes, I remember the debate between Archie and Mike about: sock then other sock VS sock then shoe.

Tehehehe

CLASSIC!

AKM said...

I completely disagree about "AITF" not aging well. I recently watched it from start to finish, as I wasn't even born when the show started, and I loved it. Brilliance on all fronts, from the writers to the actors and everyone else involved. And as others have said, so many of the issues of the day back then are being faced by us now...bad economy, social injustice, etc.

Not influential?! Archie's and Edith's chairs are in the Smithsonian, for goodness sake.

PugsterMom said...

An amazing show brilliantly acted by all four leads. There are plenty of Archie Bunkers alive today. No one would really have the guts to put on such a show today. It would be derided as too risky and politically incorrect. Studio heads would figure that the viewing public wasn't smart enough to realise that that was the point.

Gayeld said...

I always remember when Edith was telling Gloria about the day was she born, Archie told Edith think boy. Edith told Gloria she thought, "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, I want a girl."