Carroll O'Connor didn't want Jean Stapleton to be in All in the Family's spinoff
All in the Family is one of the most successful shows of the '70s. It was known for bringing social issues to the forefront, but in a different way than you'd expect. Archie could be described in many ways, but he was mainly a character who had issues with changes in the world. From gender roles to women's rights, he liked none of it.
Carroll O'Connor played the part so well that people often thought he was like Archie in real life. Jean Stapleton was Edith, the character's wife, who was the complete opposite.
All in the Family had nine seasons, with a few noticeable changes in the later seasons. Gloria and Michael left the show, and Jean Stapleton expressed that she also wanted to depart. However, Robert Daly, CBS' vice president, wanted another season.
"The show as it was constituted was over. Jean Stapleton had given notice that she would not come back," Carroll O'Connor told the Television Academy Foundation. "Would she consider a [contract renewal]? She said no, it wasn't a matter of money. She just didn't want to come back. The young people didn't want her to come back, and neither did I."
In the interview, he didn't explain why he didn't want the actress back. The two had great chemistry on the show, and Stapleton spoke highly about O'Connor in interviews. Daly wanted O'Connor to convince Norman Lear to let the series continue, and the goal was to focus on Archie and his bar.
"[Daly] said, 'Would you go and see Norman? He would let us do it if you asked him.'... To make a long story short, he said [we] could do it. But we couldn't call it All in the Family anymore, we couldn't use the opening song with Edith and me, and we'd have to keep Edith alive as a character even though she wasn't seen...I [thought] Edith must die," he added.
O'Connor said mentioning the character without her being seen would "cripple" the show, but Norman Lear loathed the thought of killing her.
"I said we'd have to write a show in which she dies and then go on [with Archie without her.]"
All of this took place in the middle to end of All in the Family's ninth season. It took time for everyone to agree, but eventually, it happened.
All in the Family was out, and Archie Bunker's Place was in. Stapleton appeared on a few episodes of the new series to help with the transition, and then Edith was gone.
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