ALL IN THE FAMILY
On January 12th 1971 television audiences were introduced to the man we called the “lovable bigot”…if there is such a thing. Carroll O’Conner came into our avocado, orange and creme living rooms as Archie Bunker with his dizzy wife Edith, semi-dizzy daughter Gloria and her hippie liberal protesting boyfriend Mike Stivic.
Legendary producer Norman Lear, known for his edgy writing almost made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. He almost cast Mickey Rooney as Archie Bunker. Rooney went on record saying that the show might not be accepted for the racy topics of rape, homosexuality, racial issues…etc. Obviously he was wrong and although Carroll O’Conner agreed, he thought the role was fascinating and accepted the role. Thank goodness.
O’Conner reportedly argued the most with Normal Lear. In fact during a stalemate over his contract negotiation O’Conner went on a strike. The writers had to write three episodes where Archie disappeared on his way to a convention. He finally showed up in time to appear in the last few minutes of the third episode. Rumor had it that if he hadn’t comeback the writers were ready to kill off the character of Archie Bunker….again thank goodness.
Some other interesting facts: Penny Marshall was considered for the role of Gloira Stivic. Ironic that she married Rob Reiner later.
Speaking of Rob Reiner…Richard Dryfuss was reported to be extremely interested in that role at the time but Lear chose Reiner.
STRANGE TRIVIA ALERT: The Bunkers last name was originally The Justices in the pilot but later changed.
All In The Family will forever be remembered. In fact it was ranked #4 on TV Guide’s 50 Best Television Shows of all time and was number one yearly from 1971 to 1976. No other sitcom except the Cosby Show has achieved that level of success.