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Carroll O'Connor said that criticism of his shows got to him

If you're CBS in 1978, surely the most disastrous thing you can do is invite Carroll O'Connor to a dinner with some of the biggest TV critics in publication. But, unfortunately for the network and anyone in attendance at Gingerman restaurant, that's exactly what they did. 

O'Connor cursed out one critic so vehemently that the interaction was documented in the Tampa Bay Times. The actor told onlookers that he felt critics were "jerks", concluding, "I think too many of you don't know what you are doing."

This might come as a surprise to anybody familiar with All in the Family's critical success. The show was popular with viewers and the critics alike. Nonetheless, his displeasure with the critical community followed O'Connor until he passed away in 2001.

The flame that sparked the fire predated that night at the restaurant. Early in the evening, O'Connor was asked about his previous remarks on a TV talk show when he called critics "hacks and semi-literates." Things did not de-escalate when O'Connor was asked to elaborate.

"I think you all have been in a position where you all have said something out of pure emotion that is not all true. There are semi-literates. A lot of them copy what other people write and add a little twist of their own so that it appears the local boy has the inside track.

"I do think the managing editors of newspapers do hire inferior people to write television," said O'Connor.

While any actor could be the subject of newspaper criticism, O'Connor was different. All in the Family was a rare show that appealed to the masses and to critics alike. However, that wasn't always the case, as the show was initially panned before winning critical favor after it was well-received by the general public.

"The criticism bothers me. I care about it and most of the actors I know care. You people reach a pretty large audience and there is no way to get back at you. The critic always has the last word."

While critics may have the last word, Carroll O'Connor had the last laugh. Any writer who wrote unfavorably about All in the Family while it aired is no longer entrusted with such opinions. O'Connor, by contrast, continues to delight as Archie Bunker in perpetual reruns. 

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