Jean Stapleton, best remembered for her portrayal of the long suffering, yet always sympathetic and scatterbrained wife of TV’s Archie Bunker on the seminal 1970s sitcom All in the Family, has died of natural causes in New York City, according to the LA Times. She as 90.
Stapleton, who was an actress first weaned on dramatic roles in her career, found a place in television lore as the character of Edith Bunker on the CBS sitcom, which ran from 1971-1979 and was the number one television show for five years during that run early on. She portrayed the character with a heart of gold and a running, ditzy mouth and attitude which sometimes became rather grating, especially on her husband Archie, the rotund, blowhard bigot who had opinions for everyone and everything in his difficult life, except himself of course. Played by the late Carroll O’Connor, he and Stapleton exhibited a chemistry which was able to successfully parlay such guises as hilarity, drama, pathos, candor, silliness, and intensity. The two of them, along with Sally Struthers (who played their daughter Gloria) and Rob Reiner (who played Gloria’s husband Mike), were one of television’s finest ensembles, and they all went through a road with their characters life which spoke about themes such as impotence, political unrest and uneasiness, pollution, abortion, homosexuality, inflation; in fact, no subject was taboo, and the show pushed the envelope of what was once forbidden to discuss on television, let alone a situation comedy right to the forefront of the American fabric, no doubt aided and abetted by the skillful acting by the foursome.
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