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

How'd A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries

Tom Toro was a directionless 20-something film school dropout. Then, after an inspired moment at a used book sale, he started submitting drawings to The New Yorker ... and collecting rejection slips.
NPR

Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

A handful of chefs and food companies are experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. But the market is still a few steps behind plant-based products for meat and dairy.
WAMU 88.5

Plan To Offer Free Community College Divides Along Party Lines

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama laid out a plan to offer two years of community college. But at least in Northern Virginia, support for the proposal seems split on partisan lines.

NPR

Sling TV Could Be Cable-Cutter's Dream

Sling TV launches in a few weeks. That's the new streaming service from Dish that allows viewers to stream content previously only available through cable.

Leave a Comment

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