‘All In The Family’ star Jean Stapleton dies at age 90

Jean Stapleton, the long-suffering Edith Bunker on  the landmark television series of the 1970s, “All in the Family,” has died at 90  of natural causes.

Stapleton, born Jeanne Murray, worked on stage and in film, but was by  far best known for her signature wail of “Aaaaaaaaarchie!” on Norman Lear’s iconic  show about the working class family of Archie Bunker, played by Carroll  O’Connor. She won three Emmys and two Golden Globes for her portrayal of Edith.

The shrill-voiced, big-hearted Edith, affectionately referred to by  O’Connor’s Archie Bunker as “dingbat,” became synonymous with the actress on a  show than ran for nine seasons and had more than 200 episodes.

Sally  Struthers played her daughter on the cusp of the women’s liberation movement  while Edith represented the homespun values of wife and mother, effacing herself  for the greater good of her family. But Lear’s social message about a changing  American society shone through Archie’s abuse toward Edith, and Edith’s  acceptance of her subordinate role.

She won the role of Edith Bunker on “All in the Family” (1971) when creator Norman Lear saw her perform in “Damn Yankees” on Broadway.

It was a role she eventually outgrew. Her character was written out of the  “All in the Family” follow-up “Archie’s Place” after a single season. For good  measure, the show’s writers killed her off, explaining she died from a  stroke.

Years later, while appearing with O’Connor on “The Donny and Marie Show” in  2000 she refused to reprise her signature voice, saying “I only do it for  pay.”

In addition to her small screen work, Stapleton was an accomplished stage  actress, performing in such notable Broadway shows as “Funny Girl,” “Damn  Yankees” and “Bells Are Ringing.” She also found herself in films  like “You’ve Got  Mail” and “Michael” and on programs like “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Stapleton would win three Emmys and two Golden Globe awards for her “All in  the Family” work and the fame that came with the role would lead to guest  appearances on shows like “The Muppet Show” and The Carole Burnett Show.”

William Putch, Stapleton’s husband of 30 years, died in 1983. She is survived  by their two children, the actor and director John Putch and the actress Pamela  Putch.

Short Bio:

Cousin of Betty Jane Watson. Other relatives in show business were her uncle Joseph E. Deming, a vaudevillian; and her brother Jack Stapleton, a stage actor. Her parents were Joseph E. Murray (a billboard advertising salesman) and Marie Stapleton Murray (a singer). Graduated from Wadleigh High School, NYC, 1939; attended Hunter College. Worked as a secretary before becoming an actress. Made her stage debut at the Greenwood Playhouse, Peaks Island, Maine, in the summer of 1941. Made her New York stage debut in “The Corn Is Green” (1948).

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