Jean Stapleton, best known for her role as Archie Bunker’s long-suffering wife Edith in the long-running 1970s television series “All in the Family,” died Friday at her New York City home. She was 90, and died of natural causes, her family announced today.
She was already a veteran of stage, film and television when she was cast in the CBS sitcom opposite Carroll O’Connor’s loud-mouthed, politically-incorrect Archie Bunker, who often addressed her as “dingbat.” She won three Emmys for the role, and deserved every one of them.
I just remember my dad thinking Archie Bunker was funny, while my mom couldn’t stand him. I’m sure that was more a sign of my mom’s distaste for insufferable people than a reflection of her and my dad’s marriage.
“The benign, compassionate presence she developed made my egregious churl bearable,” O’Connor wrote of Stapleton in his 1998 autobiography. He died in 2001.
Born in New York City on Jan. 19, 1923, Stapleton was the daughter of a billboard advertising salesman and an opera singer. In 1949, she was cast in the national touring company of “Harvey.” After many roles in summer stock, regional theater, and off-Broadway plays, she was cast as a wisecracking waitress in the 1953 Broadway production of “In the Summer House.”
Stapleton went on to star as Sister in “Damn Yankees,” singing the hit tune “You’ve Gotta Have Heart,” and then reprised that role in the 1958 film. She also appeared in both the stage and film versions of “The Bells Are Ringing,” and originated the role of Mrs. Strakosh in “Funny Girl,” which made Barbra Streisand a Broadway star.
Stapleton is survived by her children, television producer Pamela Putch and film and television director John Putch.
I just loved her. What a great actress, and class act. She will be missed… but always remembered.