ABOUT THE SHOW
All in the Family is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network from January 12, 1971 - April 8, 1979.
The show revolves around Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), a working-class World War II veteran living in Queens, New York. He 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. His ignorance and stubbornness seem to cause his malapropism-filled arguments to self-destruct. He often responds to uncomfortable truths by blowing a raspberry. He longs for better times when people sharing his viewpoint were in charge, as evidenced by the nostalgic theme song "Those Were the Days," the show's original title. Despite his bigotry, he is portrayed as loveable and decent, as well as a man who is simply struggling to adapt to the changes in the world, rather than someone motivated by hateful racism or prejudice.
By contrast, Archie's wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), is a sweet and understanding, if somewhat naïve, woman who usually defers to her husband. On the rare occasions when Edith takes a stand she proves to be one of the wisest characters, as evidenced in the episodes "The Battle of the Month" and "The Games Bunkers Play". Archie often tells her to "stifle" herself and calls her a "dingbat". Despite their different personalities they love each other deeply.
They have one child, Gloria (Sally Struthers) who, for the most part, is kind and good natured, like her mother, but who also on occasion displays traces of her father's stubbornness; she becomes more of an outspoken feminist as the series progresses. Gloria is married to college student Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner). Michael is referred to as "Meathead" by Archie and "Mike" by nearly everyone else. Mike is a bit of a hippie, and his morality is informed by the counterculture of the 1960s. He and Archie represent the real-life clash between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers. They constantly clash over religious, political, social, and personal issues. For much of the series, the Stivics live in the Bunkers' home to save money, providing even more opportunity for the two men to irritate each other. When Mike finally finishes graduate school and the Stivics move out, it turns out to be to the house next door. The house was offered to them by George Jefferson, the Bunkers' former neighbor, who knows it will irritate Archie. In addition to calling him "Meathead", Archie also frequently cites Mike's Polish ancestry, referring to him as a "dumb Polack."
The show is set in the Astoria section of Queens, one of New York City's five boroughs, with the vast majority of scenes taking place in the Bunkers' home at 704 Hauser Street (and later, frequently, the Stivics' home). Occasional scenes take place in other locations, most often (especially during later seasons) Kelsey's Bar, a neighborhood tavern where Archie spends a good deal of time and which he eventually buys. The house seen in the opening is at 89-70 Cooper Avenue in the Glendale section of Queens.
ABOUT THE CAST
- Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker. Frequently called a "lovable bigot", Archie was an assertively prejudiced blue-collar worker. Former child actor Mickey Rooney was Lear's first choice to play Archie, but Rooney declined the offer because of the strong potential for controversy and, in Rooney's opinion, a poor chance for success. Scott Brady, formerly of the western series Shotgun Slade, also declined the role of Archie Bunker, but appeared four times on the series in 1976 in the role of Joe Foley.
- Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker, née Baines. It was Stapleton who developed Edith's recognizable voice. Stapleton remained with the show through the original series run but decided to leave before the first season of Archie Bunker's Place had wrapped up. At that point Edith was written out as having suffered a stroke and died off-camera, leaving Archie to deal with the death of his beloved "dingbat". Stapleton appeared in all but four episodes of All in the Family and had a recurring role during the first season of Archie Bunker's Place. In the series' first episode, Edith is portrayed as being less of a dingbat and even sarcastically refers to her husband as "Mr. Religion, here..." after they come home from church, something her character wouldn't be expected to say, later.
- Sally Struthers as Gloria Stivic, née Bunker. The Bunkers' college-age daughter was married to Michael Stivic. Gloria frequently attempted to mediate Archie's and Michael's arguments. The roles of the Bunkers' daughter and son-in-law (then named "Dickie") initially went to Candice Azzara and Chip Oliver. However, after seeing the show's pilot, ABC, the original production company, requested a second pilot expressing dissatisfaction with both actors. Lear later recast the roles of "Gloria" and "Dickie" with Struthers and Reiner. Penny Marshall (Reiner's wife, whom he married in April 1971, shortly after the program began) was also considered for the role of Gloria. During the earlier seasons of the show, Struthers was known to be discontented with how static her part was, frequently coming off as irritating and having only a few token lines. As the series continued Gloria's character became more developed, satisfying Struthers. Struthers appeared in 157 of the 202 episodes during the first eight seasons—from January 12, 1971 to March 19, 1978. She later reprised the role in the spin-off series Gloria, which lasted for a single season in 1982-83.
- Rob Reiner as Michael Stivic. Gloria's Polish-American hippie husband was part of the counterculture of the 1960s. He constantly sparred with Archie (in the original pilot, he was Irish-American). Michael was, in many ways, as stubborn as Archie, even though his moral views were generally presented as being more ethical and his logic somewhat sounder. Though this was true, he was generally portrayed in a more negative light than Archie; Archie was portrayed in a more sympathetic sense, while Michael was portrayed as loudmouthed and at times, demanding. He consistently tried to prove himself correct (as evidenced in the episode "The Games Bunkers Play") and seemed desperate to convince people that his way was the right way to go all the time, even more than Archie, who gave up giving advice about his way when there was no point. This would occasionally, if not often, end him up in conflict with his friends and wife. For his bullheadedness, Stivic was sometimes criticized for being an elitist. He also struggled with assumptions of male superiority. He spoke of believing in female equality, but often tried to control Gloria's decisions and desires in terms of traditional gender roles. While Archie was a representation of right-wing bigotry and demonstrated the lion's share of the hypocrisy, Michael, on many occasions, showed his own. As discussed in All in the Family retrospectives, Richard Dreyfuss sought the part but Norman Lear was convinced to cast Reiner. Reiner appeared in 174 of the 202 episodes of the series during the first eight seasons—from January 12, 1971 to March 19, 1978. Reiner is also credited with writing three of the series' episodes.
- Danielle Brisebois as Edith's 9-year-old grandniece, Stephanie Mills. The Bunkers take her in after the child's father, Floyd Mills, abandons her on their doorstep in 1978 after Mike and Gloria moved to California at the end of the 8th season (he later extorts money from them to let them keep her). She appeared in the opening credits of the 9th season, remained with the show through its transition to Archie Bunker's Place, and appeared in all 4 seasons of the latter show.
- Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson, Isabel Sanford as his wife Louise, and Mike Evans as their son Lionel, Archie's African American neighbors. George is Archie's combative black counterpart, while Louise is a smarter, more assertive version of Edith. Lionel first appeared in the series' premiere episode "Meet the Bunkers", with Louise appearing later in the first season. Although previously mentioned many times, George was not seen until 1973. Hemsley, who was Norman Lear's first choice to play George, was performing in the Broadway musical Purlie and did not want to break his commitment to that show. However, Lear kept the role waiting for him until he had finished with the musical. Plots frequently find Archie and George at odds with one another, while Edith and Louise attempt to join forces to bring about a resolution. They later moved to an apartment in Manhattan which resulted in their own show The Jeffersons.
- Mel Stewart, as George's brother Henry Jefferson. The two appeared together only once, in the 1973 episode in which the Bunkers host Henry's going-away party, marking Stewart's final episode and Hemsley's first. Even when the Jeffersons were spun off into their own show in 1975, Stewart's character was rarely referred to again and was never seen. In the closing credits of "The First and Last Supper" episode, Mel Stewart is incorrectly credited as playing George Jefferson. Stewart was actually playing George's brother, Henry Jefferson, who was pretending to be George for most of the episode.
- Bea Arthur as Edith's cousin Maude. Maude was white-collared and ultra-liberal, the perfect foil to Archie and one of his main antagonists. She appeared in only two episodes, "Cousin Maude's Visit", where she took care of the Bunker household when all four were sick and "Maude", during the show's second season. She then went on to her own spin-off series, Maude, in fall 1972.
- Betty Garrett and Vincent Gardenia as the liberal and Roman Catholic next-door neighbors Irene and Frank Lorenzo. Both first appeared as a married couple as Irene was trying to use the Bunker's phone. However, during an argument earlier in the episode, Archie and Mike had broken the phone wire. Irene being a 'handyman' of sorts with her own tools, which she carried in her purse, fixed it. Irene fixed many things at the Bunker house during her time on the show. She also had a sister who was a nun and appeared in one episode. It is revealed in the episode Edith's Christmas Story that Irene has had a mastectomy. Archie got her a job as a forklift operator at the plant where Archie worked. Irene was a strongwilled woman of Irish heritage, and Frank was a jovial Italian househusband who loved cooking and singing. He also was a salesman, but it never was said what he sold. Gardenia, who also appeared as Jim Bowman in Episode 8 of Season 1 (as the man who sold his house to the Jeffersons) and as Curtis Rempley in Episode 7 of Season 3 (as a swinger opposite Rue McClanahan), became a semi-regular along with Garrett in 1973. Gardenia only stayed for one season as Frank Lorenzo, but Garrett remained until her character was phased out in late 1975.
- Allan Melvin as Archie's neighbor and best friend Barney Hefner. The character first appeared in 1972 as a fairly minor character. Barney's role expanded toward the end of the series, after the departures of Reiner and Struthers.
- James Cromwell as Jerome "Stretch" Cunningham (1973–1976) "The Funniest Man in The World", Archie's friend and co-worker from the loading dock (Archie claims that he is known as the "Bob Hope" of the loading platform). What Archie did not know was that Stretch was Jewish, evident only after Stretch died and Archie went to the funeral. Archie's eulogy for his friend is often referred to as a rare occasion when he was capable of showing the humanity he tried so earnestly to hide. In the episode titled "Archie in the Cellar," Billy Sands is referred to as Stretch Cunningham, the voice on the tape recorder telling jokes. Sands also appeared as other characters on the show during its run, usually in Kelsey's Bar as a patron.
- Liz Torres as Theresa Betancourt (1976–1977), a Puerto Rican nursing student who initially meets Archie when he is admitted to the hospital for surgery; she later rents Mike's and Gloria's former room at the Bunker house. She called Archie "Papi." Torres had just completed the first season of the CBS sitcom Phyllis in the spring of 1976 before being dropped from the cast. (She had replaced the late actress Barbara Colby in the role of Julie Erskine). She joined All in the Family in the fall of 1976 but her character of Theresa was not popular with viewers and the role was phased out before the end of the season.
- Billy Halop as Mr. Munson (1971–74), the cab driver who lets Archie use his cab to make extra money.
- Bob Hastings as Kelcy or Tommy Kelsey, who owns the bar Archie frequents and later buys. Kelcy was also played by Frank Maxwell in the episode "Archie Gets The Business." The name of the establishment is Kelcy's Bar (as seen in the bar window in various episodes). However, due to a continuity error, the end credits of episodes involving the bar owner spell the name "Kelcy" for the first two seasons and "Kelsey" thereafter, although the end credits show "Kelcy" in the "Archie Gets the Business" episode.
- Jason Wingreen as Harry Snowden, a bartender at Kelcy's Bar who continues to work there after Archie purchases it and eventually becomes his business partner. Harry had initially tried to buy the bar from Kelcy, but Archie was able to come up with the money first, by taking a mortgage out on his house, which the Bunkers own outright.
- Gloria LeRoy as Mildred "Boom-Boom" Turner, a buxom, middle-aged secretary at the plant where Archie works. Her first appearance was when Archie is lost on his way to a convention and Mike and Gloria suspect he and she could be having an affair. Archie gave her that moniker as she was walking by the loading dock. He said when she walked, "Boom-Boom". She is not initially fond of Archie due to his and Stretch's leering and sexist behavior, but later becomes friendly with him, occasionally working as a barmaid at Archie's Place. Gloria LeRoy also appeared in a third season episode as "Bobbi Jo," the wife of Archie's old war buddy "Duke".
- Barnard Hughes as Father Majeskie, a local Catholic priest who was suspected by Archie one time of trying to convert Edith. He appeared in multiple episodes. The first time was when Edith accidentally hit Majeskie's car in the shopping parking lot with a can of cling peaches in heavy syrup.
- Eugene Roche appeared as practical jokester friend and fellow lodge member "Pinky Peterson", one of Archie Bunker's buddies, in three episodes; first in the episode "Beverly Rides Again", then the memorable Christmas Day episode called "The Draft Dodger" (Episode 146, 1976), and finally the episode "Archie's Other WIfe".
- Lori Shannon as Beverly La Salle, a transvestite entertainer, who appeared in three episodes: "Archie the Hero", "Beverly Rides Again", and "Edith's Crisis of Faith".
- Estelle Parsons as Blanche Hefner (1977–1979), Barney's second wife. Blanche and Archie are not fond of one another, though Edith likes her very much. The character is mentioned throughout much of the series after Barney's first wife, Mabel, had died, though she only appeared in a handful of episodes during the last couple of seasons. Estelle Parsons also appeared in the season 7 episode "Archie's Secret Passion" as Dolores Fencel.
- Bill Quinn as Mr. Edgar Van Ranseleer (a.k.a. "Mr. Van R"), a blind patron and regular at the bar. He was almost never referred to by his first name. In a running joke, Archie usually waves his hand in front of Mr. Van R's face when he speaks to him.
- Nedra Volz as Aunt Iola. She was Edith's aunt who was mentioned several times in the 8th season and stayed with the Bunkers for two weeks. Edith wanted her to move in, but Archie would not allow it, though when he thought Iola didn't have any place to go, he told her privately that she could always stay with them.
- Francine Beers and Jane Connell as Sybil Gooley, who worked at Ferguson's Market. Frequently mentioned, usually by Edith, Sybil predicted that Gloria and Mike were having a baby boy by performing a test on Gloria. She also appeared in the episode "Edith's 50th Birthday" and spilled the beans on her surprise party because she had not been invited. She and Archie did not get along and he referred to her as a "Big Mouth".
- Rae Allen, Elizabeth Wilson, as Cousin Amelia. Archie detested both her and her husband, Russ, who were both wealthy. Once she sent Edith a mink and Archie wanted to send it back, until he found out how much it was worth. In another episode, both Amelia and her husband gave the Bunkers Hawaiian shirts. Amelia was played by two different actresses throughout the first few seasons of the show.
- Richard Dysart as Russ DeKeyper, Amelia's husband, a plumber who continued the business started by Amelia's father and uncles and walked into a successful plumbing concern, and who constantly flaunts his monetary wealth in front of Archie and looks askance at the way Archie lives. Russ was later played by George S. Irving in season 5.
- Clyde Kusatsu as Reverend Chong. Reverend Chong appeared in several episodes. He refused to baptize little Joey in Season 6 and then remarried both Archie and Edith and Mike and Gloria in Season 8 and gave counsel to Stephanie in Season 9 as it was learned she was Jewish.
- Ruth McDevitt as Josephine "Jo" Nelson. She played Justin Quigley's girlfriend, the older man Edith found walking around the supermarket. She appeared in three episodes from the 4th-6th seasons. Gloria and Mike adopted them as their godgrandparents. Out of most of the characters, Archie took a liking to Justin and Jo. She died following the end of the 6th season.
- William Benedict as Jimmy McNabb. He was Archie's and Edith's neighbor who was starting a petition to keep minorities out of their neighborhood. He appeared in two episodes during the first and second season and was referred to many times during the first few seasons.
- Jack Grimes as Mr. Whitehead. He was a member of Archie's lodge, and was the local funeral director. The death of Archie's cousin Oscar in a season 2 episode of All in the Family brings the very short, white-haired and silver-tongued Whitehead with his catalog of caskets.