Jean Stapleton, Star of 'All in the Family,' Dead at 90

Stage, film and television actress Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker in the pioneering 1970s sitcom All in the Family, died of natural causes at her New York City home on Friday. She was 90.   Although she was an accomplished stage actress...
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Stage, film and television actress Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker in the pioneering 1970s sitcom All in the Family, died of natural causes at her New York City home on Friday. She was 90.   Although she was an accomplished stage actress...
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Stage, film and television actress Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker in the pioneering 1970s sitcom All in the Family, died of natural causes at her New York City home on Friday. She was 90. Although she was an accomplished stage actress, appearing in the Broadway and film versions of shows like Bells Are Ringing and Damn Yankees, Stapleton's role as the ever-cheerful, slow-witted Edith on the hit TV series All in the Family, which ran from 1971 to '79, would become her most memorable. "What Edith represents is the housewife who is still in bondage to the male figure, very submissive and restricted to the home," Stapleton said during a 1972 interview with The New York Times. "She is very naïve, and she kind of thinks through a mist, and she lacks the education to expand her world." Despite her "dingbat" ways, loveable Edith helped humanize her bigoted husband Archie, played by Carroll O'Connor, and their life in working-class Queens brought controversial social and political issues into the popular dialogue of the time. Stapleton was nominated for eight Emmy Awards and won three times during her eight years on All in the Family. In 2001, when her onscreen husband Carroll O'Connor died, Stapleton received letters of condolence as though they were really married, a testament to the impact of their portrayals of Archie and Edith. Upon her death, All in the Family producer Norman Lear released a statement about the beloved actress: "No one gave more profound 'How to Be Human' lessons than Jean Stapleton. Goodbye Edith, darling." Rob Reiner, who played the Bunkers' son-in-law, Michael "Meathead" Stivic, on the show, called Stapleton "a brilliant comedienne with exquisite timing," adding, "Working with her was one of the greatest experiences of my life." Stapleton is survived by two children, director John Putch and television producer Pamela Putch.