Jean Stapleton, Who Played Edith Bunker, Dies | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Jean Stapleton, Who Played Edith Bunker, Dies

Jean Stapleton, best known for her iconic role as Edith Bunker in the 1970s TV series All in the Family, has died, her family tells The Los Angeles Times, TMZ and The Hollywood Reporter.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

"She had been a veteran of stage, film and television when she was cast in the CBS sitcom opposite Carroll O'Connor's loud-mouthed, bigoted Archie Bunker, who often addressed her as 'dingbat.' She won three Emmys for the role.

"'The benign, compassionate presence she developed made my egregious churl bearable,' O'Connor wrote of Stapleton in his 1998 autobiography. He died in 2001."

Stapleton was 90.

In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Stapleton said before she took the Edith Bunker role, she was "apolitical."

But surrounded by activists in Los Angeles, things changed.

"I began to get a little educated and became somewhat of an activist," she said.

Her character became an icon of the women's rights movement. Activists took out an ad calling Edith Bunker a second-class citizen. The series also took on bigotry. Edith was the tolerant one and her husband was the bigot.

In the interview with the archive, Stapleton said the series uncovered bigotry through humor.

"Humor reduces it to nothing," she said.

We'll leave you with one of the iconic scenes of the show, when Archie and Edith show up to Lionel Jefferson's engagement party. Lionel, their neighbor's son, was engaged to a woman whose father is white and mother is black:

Update at 6:17 p.m. ET: Rob Reiner And Norman Lear Statements:

Rob Reiner, who played the Bunkers' liberal son-in-law on All in the Family, issued this statement about Stapleton's death:

"Jean was a brilliant comedienne with exquisite timing. Working with her was one of the greatest experiences of my life. My thoughts are with her family."

Norman Lear, who wrote and produced the sitcom, said Stapleton helped him to see his own "frailties and humanity." In a statement, he continued:

"No one gave more profound 'How to be a Human Being' lessons than Jean Stapleton. Goodbye Edith, darling."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'F' Is For Fraudster In A Family Novel For Our Modern Times

Daniel Kehlmann's F, about three brothers abandoned by their father, examines the detail of lives lived without integrity. It is brilliantly translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway.
NPR

No. 1 Most Expensive Coffee Comes From Elephant's No. 2

A coffee entrepreneur claims his brew is different — and better — than the trendy civet poop coffee. And it starts with the idea that elephants, unlike humans or civets, are herbivores.
WAMU 88.5

Maureen McDonnell Didn't Give Special Treatment To Star Scientific, Witness Testifies

A defense witness in the corruption trail against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, says the former first lady often traveled the state promoting state businesses, countering the notion she gave special treatment to the company at the heart of the corruption trial.
NPR

The Momentum Of The Ice Bucket Challenge — And What It Means For ALS

A recent fundraising challenge has gone viral on social media, calling attention to research into Lou Gehrig's disease. Forbes contributor Dan Diamond discusses the state of that research.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.