Jean Stapleton got a warm Chambersburg, PA welcome home after winning her first Emmy
We all love a "hometown hero hits it big" story. In the case of Jean Stapleton, the Chambersburg, PA resident put in decades of work before receiving one of acting's most coveted prizes.
By the time All in The Family premiered, Jean Stapleton was already a 30-year veteran of the acting profession. She'd earlier starred in all manner of stage and screen productions, beginning in 1941 doing summer stock theater in New York. Stapleton would star in some of Broadway's greatest musicals, such as Funny Girl, Damn Yankees, and Bells Are Ringing, reprising her roles in the filmed adaptations of the latter two.
Having conquered Broadway and the cinema, Stapleton continued to work in TV, guest starring in some of the most popular shows of the day. Prior to her most famous role, Stapleton graced the small screen with appearances on Dennis the Menace, My Three Sons, and The Patty Duke Show.
Jean Stapleton's recognition at the 1971 Emmys was well-deserved and overdue. With her portrayal of All in The Family's Edith Bunker, Stapleton bested fellow nominees Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas. It would be the first of two back-to-back Emmy Wins for Mrs. Bunker. She'd later add two Golden Globes to the shelf for good measure as well. But nothing beats that first win.
Coming home after the ceremony, Stapleton was greeted by what must've felt like most of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. According to a 1971 article from the Chambersburg Public Opinion, over 2,500 local residents met Stapleton as she debarked. The crowd filled the Franklin County Courthouse Plaza to welcome the actress home.
A police-escorted motorcade brought Stapleton and her small entourage to the Courthouse Plaza from the Chambersburg Municipal Airport. Immediately, throngs of screaming, enthusiastic well-wishers ambushed the star, while the Trojan Stage Band from the Chambersburg Area High School soundtracked the triumphant homecoming. They even performed the "All in The Family" theme song! Signs adorning various Chambersburg landmarks bore the words "We Love You, Jean!" and "Jean Stapleton Slept Here."
J. William Stover, the then-mayor declared Tuesday, the eleventh of May, 1971 as Jean Stapleton Day within the borough of Chambersburg. A fleet of six planes from the Chambersburg Kiwanis Club presented an airplane salute as part of the proceedings.
It may have been a long time coming, but Jean Stapleton's 1971 Emmy was properly celebrated in a big, big way.
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