Here’s What Happened to Carroll O’Connor Before, During and After Archie Bunker on ‘All in the Family’

Despite the fact that he actually accomplished so much more over the course of his life, you simply cannot think of the late Carroll O’Connor without having images of Archie Bunker and, in turn, the revolutionary Classic TV sitcom All in the Family come to mind. Created by Norman Lear, All in the Family, which ran from 1971 to 1979, arrived at a time when television was changing, moving away from light-hearted fare like Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies to more realistic sitcoms like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Sanford and Son and, of course, All in the Family itself.

The latter almost immediately began breaking every taboo of the medium (starting with the audience actually hearing a toilet flushing for the first time!), looking at the issues of the day through the prism of the Bunker family. The Vietnam War, President Nixon, racism, homophobia — one by one the boundaries fell in a funnily dramatic way.

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The Bunkers were led by conservative bigot Archie, who finds himself in constant screaming matches with his liberal son-in-law Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner), who he not so affectionately refers to as “Meathead.” Mike’s wife, Gloria (Sally Struthers) is rapidly embracing the woman’s lib movement, and then there’s her mother, and Archie’s wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), the kind and seemingly flighty matriarch that Archie refers to as “Dingbat.”

While Carroll knew that Archie was the role of a lifetime, he had no illusions as to who and what the man really was. In a 1972 interview with the Los Angeles Times he opined, “Archie’s a loser. People like Archie live all over the country. They may be the largest part of the American middle class. They are conservative, perhaps without understanding why. Many have what I call the ‘fine people rationale’: they believe the fine people are conservative, so conservatism is best — it puts them close to the top. Success is part of our national religion; it’s the heaven we aspire to on Earth. I don’t think we ought to be ashamed of it, but I think we ought to understand it, because it has some heavy consequences. It produces Archie Bunkers.”

To discover more about Carroll O’Connor’s life and career before, during and after All in the Family, please scroll down.