In the world of classic TV, All in the Family starring Carroll O’Connor holds its own place in history but even that show runs its course. O’Connor, who famously played Archie Bunker opposite Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, and Sally Struthers, would stay with that show. Yet it would change its name to Archie Bunker’s Place, reflective of a change in O’Connor’s character while keeping Archie alive. O’Connor talks about the transition from All in the Family to the spinoff.
“The show as it was constituted was over,” he said in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. “Jean Stapleton had given notice that she would not come back. Robert Daly, who was the president, the new Freddy Silverman (network president) over there, Robert Daly came to me and said, ‘I gotta have that show, Carroll.’ I said, ‘You expect me to do it alone? Who’s with me’
Carroll O’Connor Of ‘All in the Family’ Talks About Show’s Future With Norman Lear
“He then went to [Norman] Lear and Lear said, ‘No,’ he wouldn’t let it go on,” O’Connor said. “‘Why not?’ Lear said, ‘I want the show to die an honorable death.’ On another day, Bob Daly called me up again and said, ‘Carroll, will you do something? Will you go and see Norman? He will let us do this if you ask him.’”
O’Connor said he called up Lear and went over to his house. The actor said Lear said, ‘Why do you want to do this?” O’Connor replied that Daly asked him to do it. Daly reportedly told O’Connor that he wanted to get another year out of the show.
Lear asked O’Connor if Daly called him up and asked him to go over to Lear’s house. O’Connor affirms Lear’s thoughts about the visit. “I knew better, Norman, but he doesn’t know you as well as I do,” O’Connor said. Well, Lear gave his blessing to the show. But they could not call the show All in the Family anymore. Edith would have to be kept alive as a character although not seen on the new show. How would this be done?
Actor Suggests Edith Die But Lear Revolts At Idea At First
Lear reportedly tells O’Connor that Archie would be in the bar a lot and she’s at relatives or something. O’Connor counters with a suggestion that Edith must die, to which Lear absolutely refused to think about…at that time. O’Connor then tells Daly that Lear would have to write an episode in which Edith dies. Negotiations on the new show collapsed during the actor and legendary show producer’s conversations. O’Connor says that he wrote the show in which Edith dies.