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All In The Family aired from January 1971 until September 1979 on CBS.
For more on All In The Family go to the mini-page right here at Sitcoms Online.
An Article From Time Magazine
Scorn Along with Archie
Monday, Jan. 17, 1972 Article
People seemed to be content Fifty dollars paid the rent Freaks were in a circus tent Those were the days.
The lyrics are flat, the accompaniment tinny and the voices dreadful. But the theme song of TV's No. 1 family, the Bunkers, has been released both as a single record and as part of an LP, and it seems to be scoring with the same mass audience that watches All in the Family each week (an estimated 50 million). The album, a sort of singalong, scorn-along with Archie, has risen into the top ten of the record charts in only eight weeks, and has racked up an impressive total of more than $1,000,000 in sales.
Besides the song, the album (Atlantic Records) contains excerpts from a dozen shows, a litany of the Bunkerisms that have won All in the Family the respect of rednecks and the laughter of liberals. To Archie (Carroll O'Connor), the proudly bigoted head of the Bunker household, England is a "fag country," his wife Edith a "dingbat," the Renaissance master Michelangelo "that Dago artist," and Women's Lib a "dreaded disease." As for the theory of evolution, Archie tells his son-in-law Mike (Rob Reiner): "We didn't crawl out from under no rocks; we didn't have no tails, we didn't come from monkeys, you atheistic, pinko meathead."
All in the Family is not only one of the most successful of the recordings that have been translated from TV series, such as Sesame Street and Flip Wilson. It also seems to signal a return to the popularity of comedy albums such as those that flourished in the early '60s. Another fast-selling LP is David Frye's Richard Nixon Superstar. Even Vaughan Meader, the man who started the trend in 1962 with The First Family, is back with a satirical vision of Jesus' return to earth titled The Second Coming.
Another Article From Time Magazine
Archie Bunker Looks at Flip
Monday, Jan. 31, 1972 Article
Racial jokes are also the staple of television's other top comedy show, All in the Family but with a difference. Where Flip Wilson kids conventional prejudices by turning them inside out, Family's archbigot Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) is a living compendium of those prejudices. To see how Archie might react to Flip, TIME asked Family Producer-Writer Norman Lear to imagine a scene in the Bunker living room after the family has watched Flip's show. Lear's script:
Gloria: Daddy, Flip Wilson really flips you, doesn't he?
Archie: Flip Wilson? I can take him or leave him.
Mike: Come on, Arch, I can't remember when I saw you laugh so hard.
Edith: That's right, Archie. Especially when he got in them lady's clothes . . .
Archie: Edith, stifle!
Edith: And played Ernestine . . .
Archie: I said, stifle! I don't know what it is with you guys. We seen the show, we enjoyed it...
Mike: Enjoyed it, hell! I saw you split a gut! The guy is just plain funny why can't you admit it?
Archie: So. He's funny. I'm the foist to admit it. But I didn't split no gut. I do that maybe for Bob Hope. He's really funny!
Gloria: What's Bob Hope got to do with this?
Archie: Nothin'. He's just the daddy of 'em all, that's all!
Edith: (amazed) Bob Hope is Flip Wilson's father?
Mike: Archie, I never heard you laugh at Bob Hope the way you just laughed at Flip Wilson.
Archie: Go on! The man entertained our boys through three wars don't that mean nothin' to you?
Mike: Okay. So he entertained the troops. But that doesn't make him funnier.
Archie: The hell it don't! He paid his dues, sonny boy and he come up the hard way, too!!
Mike: What the hell does that mean, Bob Hope came up the hard way?
Archie: Well, he didn't have whatchya call yer natural endowerments. His people wasn't all singers and dancers an' like that!
Mike: You mean he wasn't black?
Mike: So Bob Hope came up the hard way and Flip Wilson had it ready, made and waiting! Is that it?
Archie: You're takin' what I said out of contest, like ya always do, Mr. Big Liberal. All I meant was, bein' colored, Flip had a natural advantage of entertainin' being in his blood.
Edith: I thought it's tougher bein' born black.
Archie: Edith, you gotta stop readin' what them two bleeding hearts bring home! I'm tellin' ya you wanna get into sports or entertainment, it's easier bein' black. That's it!
Mike: How the hell do we get from one hour of your solid laughter at Flip Wilson to another of your broadside attacks against all blacks?
Archie: There you go just about ready to accuse me of prejudice again, ain't ya?
Mike: (hopelessly) Yeah, Arch, "just about ready."
Archie: An' all because I paid yer favorite minority a few compliments.
Mike: But you said black Flip Wilson wasn't as funny as white Bob Hope. Or are you gonna tell me you don't think of them as black an' white?
Archie: Well, I don't.
Mike: You phony . . .
Archie: Except when they're innerduced, and one steps out in his black skin, and the other is in his white; then I got two eyes, don't I?
Another Article From Time Magazine
Archie Is a Fink
Monday, Apr. 24, 1972 Article
He shuffles onto the home screen, blowzy, blinking, belly bulging, beer in one hand, cigar in the other. He trails mumbled epithets about practically every race, creed or color. He is Archie Bunker of the All in the Family show, the tube's quintessential boob, who each week shrivels bigotry with laughter. Yet to the editors of Focus, the Teamsters' official newsletter, Archie, like the anti-hero of the movie Joe, is just another example of how TV and the press distort the image of the working man. In a recent issue, an editorial thunders: "For some reason, the writers of those shows decided the average worker is a dingbat fat, more than a little dumb, a committed racist and most of all, very comical." One consequence is that "most of the folks who design the policies and programs in high governmental circles, no matter what party is in power, have no idea of what a working person is like and what he needs." Archie himself could not have put it any better.
Another Article From Time Magazine
The Team Behind Archie Bunker & Co.
Monday, Sep. 25, 1972 Article
THE Jack Paar Show, 1960: Paar walks off the show because NBC has censored some terrible words he uttered on the air. The words were not really words but initials: W.C., for water closet, the British equivalent of toilet.
Petula, 1968: the sponsors, Chrysler Motor Corp., try unsuccessfully to quash a shocking sequence in this Petula Clark special. In the sequence, Petula's white hand rests momentarily on the black arm of Guest Star Harry Belafonte.
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, 1969: the brothers, already in jeopardy with CBS for their satirical barbs, lose their show after an allegedly blasphemous guest spot by David Steinberg. The vein in which Steinberg took the Lord's name was comic.
Incomplete. That was the way it was on network entertainment shows. Scripts were judged not only by what they said but by what they did not say. Blacks were visible but untouchable, and bathrooms simply did not exist. By and large, any subjects were fair game except those that bore on the reality of viewers' lives. The result was prime-time programming that was at once obvious and incomplete, like connect-the-dots pictures without the lines drawn in. Reduced to japes about mistaken identities and absentminded fathers losing their car keys, even situation comedies had few situations with which to make comedy.
But no more. TV has embarked on a new era of candor, with all the lines emphatically drawn in. During the season that began last week, programmers will actually be competing with each other to trace the largest number of touchy and heretofore forbidden ethnic, sexual and psychological themes. Religious quirks, wife swapping, child abuse, lesbianism, venereal disease all the old taboos will be toppling. Marcus Welby last week joined the abortion debate with a patient who had not one but two in a single year. An upcoming ABC Movie of the Week will feature Hal Holbrook explaining his homosexuality to his son. Just for laughs, Archie Bunker's daughter will be the victim of an attempted rape.
NBC's The Bold Ones will be getting bolder, mainly by knifing into such delicate surgical issues as embryo transplants and lobotomy. The lobotomy episode will also depict that rarity on TV medical shows: a crooked doctor. No new adventure hero, it seems, will be admitted to the schedule without an ethnic identity badge. ABC'S Kung Fu is a sort of Fugitive foo yung a Chinese priest permanently on the lam in the American West of the 1870s, nonviolent but ready to zap troublemakers with the self-defense art of kung fu. The title character of NBC's Banacek (one of three rotating shows in the NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie) is not only a rugged insurance sleuth but also a walking lightning rod for Polish jokes.
Indeed, the 20 new series making their bow this fall add up to a veritable pride of prejudices. CBS's Bridget Loves Bernie concerns a well-heeled Catholic girl who falls for a poor Jewish cab driver. In last week's first episode they got married and promptly gave birth to dozens of Jewish-Catholic in-law gags. M* A* S* H, also on CBS, is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the grim-zany 1970 movie about an Army medical unit in the Korean War. It mixes sex, surgery and insubordination until they are almost indistinguishable (Surgeon to nurse leaning over operating table: "If you don't move, Captain, I'm going to have to cut around your B cups").
The culmination of the whole trend may lie in NBC's The Little People, which is contrived to capitalize on nearly every current vogue. It deals with the adventures of a pediatrician (thus getting into the medical bag) who practices with his rebellious daughter (the generation gap) in Hawaii (ethnic tensions) on patients whose problems go beyond mumps to things like mental retardation (controversial topics).
Bolder is not necessarily better. It is just as possible for TV shows to be inane about sex as about fathers losing their car keys. After all, the daytime soap operas have been doing it for years. By the standards of today's movies or cocktail parties, bolder is not even much bolder. Nor are all of the season's shows cultivating a racier-than-thou attitude. The coming months will offer a spate of conventional programming in every category.
But on TV, a medium that magnifies the importance of things even as it shrinks their size, small gains loom large. Even allowing for a wide margin of shlock in the new season, some of it will be the shlock of recognition. With a gibe at anti-Semitism here, a humorous insight into sexual hang-ups there, home screen entertainment is beginning to be a little less of a window on a void. It is becoming a little more of a mirror.
Who is behind this transformation on the tube? A new, iconoclastic generation of creative talents? An insurgent band of reformers from outside the wasteland's preserve? Hardly. If any individuals can be said to be the catalysts, they are a pair of tanned and creased Hollywood veterans named Alan ("Bud") Yorkin and Norman Lear.
Both are canny professionals who grew up with the medium. Lear served an apprenticeship as a comedy writer in the '50s and '60s with Martin and Lewis, George Gobel, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Andy Williams, among others. Yorkin staged such shows as Martin and Lewis's, Gobel's and Dinah Shore's, later directed specials for Jack Benny and Fred Astaire. Together, as partners in a venture called Tandem Productions, they revolutionized TV comedy by adapting a British TV hit into All in the Family.
The night Family went on the air in January 1971, a nervous CBS posted extra operators on its switchboard to handle the calls of protest. An outvoted censor prepared to say "I told you so," and several programming executives felt premonitions of the guillotine tingling at the backs of their necks. The network did not know whether the show would be a scandal or a flop. It was neither, of course, but instead a piece of instant American folklore.
Archie Bunker burst on-screen snorting and bellowing about "spades" and "spics" and "that tribe." He decried miniskirts, "bleeding heart" churchmen, food he couldn't put ketchup on and sex during daytime hours. He bullied his "dingbat" wife Edith and bemoaned his "weepin' Nellie atheist" daughter Gloria. Above all, he clashed with his liberal, long-haired son-in-law Mike Stivic, a "Polack pinko meathead" living in the Bunker household while working his way through college.
No matter that Archie tripped up on his own testiness and lost most of his arguments. He mentioned what had previously been unmentionable on TV. As played by Carroll O'Connor, he was daringly, abrasively, yet somehow endearingly funny.
With his advent, a mass-media microcosm of Middle America took shape, and a new national hero or was it villain? was born. It was not long before more than 50 million people were tuning in to Archie's tirades each week, making Family the highest-rated series on TV.
Yorkin and Lear repackaged excerpts from Family as an LP album and a book of Bunkerisms. Archie Bunker T shirts and beer mugs appeared. Well before Archie received a vote for the vice presidency at this summer's Democratic Convention, Columnist William S. White revealed that Washington politicos were talking about a "Bunker vote," reflecting a lower-middle-class mood of anger and resentment at a tight economy and loose permissiveness. In the White House, Richard Nixon watched an episode in which Archie's attack on "airy fairies" was blunted by the discovery that one of Archie's pals, an ex-football star, was homosexual. "That was awful," said Nixon. "It made a fool out of a good man."
Fool? Good man? Yorkin and Lear soon learned what it might have felt like to be Cadmus, the legendary Greek who sowed dragon's teeth only to see them spring up from the ground as armed men fighting each other. From the dragon's teeth of Archie's vocabulary, the producers reaped a crop of ethnic spokesmen, psychologists and sociologists, all armed with studies and surveys and battling each other over whether Family lampooned bigotry or glorified it. The debate seemed rather top-heavy for such light humor, but that was precisely the issue: whether Family was not all the more dangerous because it made bigotry an occasion for cozy chuckles and portrayed Archie as an overgrown boy, naughty but ultimately harmless.
Laura Z. Hobson, who prodded the public conscience with her 1947 novel about antiSemitism, Gentlemen's Agreement, complained that "you cannot be a bigot and be lovable." Lear replied that bigotry was most common and most insidious when it occurred in otherwise lovable people. Since then, Northwestern University Sociologist Charles Moskos has supported both the Bunkers and the deBunkers by arguing that Family's humor cuts two ways: "It is a cheap way for tolerant upper-middle-class liberals to escape their own prejudices while the bigots get their views reinforced." Lear concedes that the humorous treatment of bigotry means "we don't have to think about it now." But he maintains that "we're swallowing just the littlest bit of truth about ourselves, and it sits there for the unconscious to toss about later."
Meanwhile, Yorkin and Lear's breakthrough with Family has prompted a host of imitators led by Yorkin and Lear. The best of the shows to explore the comic territory they opened up is their Sanford and Son (also adapted from a British original), which made its debut on NBC last January.
New Door. Sanford is built around the love-hate relationship of a black father and son who run a junk business in Los Angeles. But it is no Family in blackface. Its humor plays with prejudices rather than on them. "Were they colored?" the police asked the elder Sanford about a gang of thieves in an early episode. "Yeah," he replied. "White." The old man, played by Redd Foxx, has none of Archie's anger. He is simply an engaging con artist who will resort to any ruse to keep his son from quitting the business and leaving home.
The show's true novelty stems from its relatively realistic portrayal of poor blacks in a warm, natural relationship. "My friends in the black community told me they're gonna be at home watching, just like it's a Joe Louis fight," Foxx said when the show began. "Means a lot to them." It must have meant a lot to other people as well. In one of the fastest ascents in TV history, Sanford shot up into the top ten rated shows, close behind Family.
"Those two shows, All in the Family and Sanford and Son, have opened a new door for television," says NBC's vice president in charge of programming, Lawrence White. "They have made it clear that we can do broad-based entertainment shows that deal in reality as a source for comedy."
Among the first through that new door for the coming season were once again Yorkin and Lear. This time they have a spin-off from Family called Maude, and already it ranks as one of the fall's top prospects. Maude is Edith Bunker's cousin who lives somewhere in upstate New York. As played by the formidable (5 ft. 9 in.), husky-contral-toed Beatrice Arthur, she may do for liberal suburban matrons what Archie has done for urban hardhats.
"The flip side of Archie," is the way Lear describes Maude. "She is a Roosevelt liberal who has her feet firmly planted in the '40s." Maude knows how to arrange all the right-thinking enlightened attitudes around herself, but when she is challenged they open up like gunwales on a galleon, and she blazes away with broadsides at feckless repairmen, greedy cab drivers and her priggish right-wing neighbor.
She first hove into view on a Family episode last season. The entire Bunker family fell ill and Maude took over the household especially Archie ("You can either get up off that couch and eat your breakfast or lie there and feed off your own fat...and if you choose the latter you can probably lie there for months"). The CBS brass was watching and, in Norman Lear's words, "saw a star." A second episode in effect a pilot was concocted, in which Archie and Edith visited Maude on the eve of her daughter's wedding to a Jew: it clinched the deal for a new series.
"Maude breaks every rule of television from the start," says Robert Wood, head of CBS-TV. "She's on her fourth husband, and she is living with a divorced daughter who has a son. It's not so long ago that you couldn't show a woman divorced from one husband, let alone three." In last week's opening episode, Maude had fairly tame set-tos with a door-to-door salesman and a psychiatrist, but her future outings will include a look at legalizing marijuana and a fling at black-radical-chic party giving la Leonard Bernstein. In one episode not yet okayed by the network, she even gets pregnant and decides to seek an abortion, while her shaken husband looks into the vasectomy market.
With Family, Sanford and Maude going for them, Yorkin and Lear have emerged in a big way from the twilight of anonymity behind the scenes in TV. Johnny Carson was barely exaggerating when he introduced this year's Emmy Award ceremonies as "an evening with Norman Lear." After Lear had collected one of the seven Emmys won by Family, Carson quipped: "I understand Norman has just sold his acceptance speech as a new series."
Of course it isn't just the recognition; it's the money. Yorkin and Lear's profits from their three shows this year could reach $5,000,000, not counting the take from books, records and other byproduct merchandising. With offers of further projects pouring in, their Tandem headquarters is the hottest TV production office in Hollywood. So busy are the partners nowadays that they rarely get a chance to be in the office. They run the business by remote control, communicating with each other by memo. Occasionally they rendezvous for a quick huddle in the parking lot of a studio where one or the other is coming from or going to work.
Lear, who spends most of his time at CBS as executive producer of Family and Maude, is a dapper, droopy-mustached man of 50 with the comedy writer's congenital air of melancholy, like a sensitive spaniel; he tends to be the spokesman for the team. Yorkin, 46, who concentrates on being executive producer of Sanford at NBC, is a beefy, genial soul with a flushed face and a habit of punctuating his speech with a stabbing thumb that one senses could easily become a fist. Both men, in their divergent styles, bear down hard on their staffs to achieve the gloss and precision that have become characteristic of Yorkin and Lear productions.
Ruthless Rehash. Each of their shows is taped before a live audience. Yorkin or Lear then leads the cast and staff through a ruthless rehash session, and another performance is taped before a second audience. The show that eventually goes on the air combines the best of the two performances. This system provides a TV equivalent of the Broadway theater's "tryout experience," says Family Producer John Rich. "We're doing a play a week and we're trying to be entertaining every minute. We don't have a Hartford or a Boston for tryouts."
No shows on TV are more heavily rewritten than Yorkin and Lear's. Whether a script originates with their staff or is one of the 60% that come from freelancers, Yorkin and Lear usually see that it gets torn to pieces. The story line acquires new twists, the dialogue is recast, sometimes new characters are added.
"When a writer says, 'I'd like to see Edith Bunker in menopause,' I know we can peel back layers of Edith and Archie," says Lear. "When I hear an idea like that, I'm like a dog hanging on to a bone. I'll hang on forever until the show is right." One of this season's early Family episodes, about Archie's infatuation with the brassy wife of an old Air Force buddy, was conceived in June 1971. After eight major rewrites, it was scheduled for taping last February. Lear withdrew it at the last minute for more work when it was already in rehearsal. By the time it was finally taped this summer, everybody had had a crack at it, including the actors.
This is where Yorkin and Lear's flair for casting shows up in picking seemingly unlikely performers who will grow into their roles and shape them with their own temperaments. Veteran Comic Foxx won his Sanford role partly on the strength of his only other dramatic appearance as a junkman in the 1970 movie Cotton Comes to Harlem. He and Co-Star Demond Wilson now work with Sanford's Producer and Chief Writer Aaron Ruben, who is white, to "translate the scripts into spook," as Foxx puts it. "The writers are beginning to learn that black is another language." (Meantime, Ruben is training black writers for the show.)
Lear thought of Carroll O'Connor for Archie because he recalled O'Connor's "outrageous but likable" general in the 1966 movie What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? O'Connor's participation in the development of Archie's character has become so passionate that it frequently causes tension on the Family staff. At times he flatly refuses to perform a script that does not conform to his conception of the role. An example was last season's episode about Archie's being trapped in a stalled elevator with a middle-class black and a Puerto Rican girl about to give birth to a baby. It was used only after Lear overrode O'Connor's objections that it "wouldn't work." (Such difficulties with O'Connor made the renegotiation of his contract last fall "a bloodbath," according to one Tandem source.)
"When we see a helicopter land on the roof of the CBS building and a man in a dark suit from New York get out," jokes one of Lear's writers, "we know we're in censorship trouble." Network censors are rarely as melodramatic as that. Usually they are a task force of some two dozen men and women, each of whom oversees a portion of a network's total programming (including commercials); they review scripts and sit in on tapings and screenings, questioning anything that seems to conflict with federal broadcasting law or their network's standards of taste.
But if the helicopter is more writer's fancy than fact, the censorship troubles of Yorkin and Lear are all too real. Family, particularly, has at least one big crisis a season. Two winters ago, it was over the episode about homosexuality that President Nixon so disliked; last winter, a show on which Son-in-Law Mike's exam jitters made him sexually impotent. Smaller crises abound, as when CBS succeeded in knocking out the word "Mafia" from one script, the term "smartass" from another.
So far, Lear has staved off every major threat with a combination of logic, persuasion, threats to cancel a whole episode (or the whole series), and scathing contempt for the censors' "thinktank mentality," his term for the corporate and governmental attitude that underestimates "how wise-heart a great many Americans are."
Doing things over is one thing; overdoing them is another. Amid all their taking of pains, Yorkin and Lear rarely forget the importance of not being earnest. Their shows are, after all, only situation comedies. The scripts, however inventive, tend more toward formula than organic form. The characterizations are still exaggerated cutouts from the fabric of real life.
"Sure we want to get the social theme," says Family Writer Alan Ross, "but the show is a half-hour comedy on commercial TV, and if it's not funny you might as well be on the lecture platform." As George S. Kaufman pointed out, speaking of Broadway, the savage moralizing of satire is what closes at the end of one week; sitcoms must go on week after week. Acknowledging this, Yorkin and Lear are entertainers who brandish the weapons of satire but use them sparingly. Their Bunkers and Sanfords are sheep in wolves' clothing domesticated in every sense from a tougher breed of British precursors.
The BBC's arch-Archie is Alf Garnett, a spiteful, bitter dockside worker in Till Death Us Do Part, the model for Family. The fathers of Sanford and son are Steptoe and son, on the BBC series of the same name, a pair of cockney rag and bone men who batter themselves and each other relentlessly against a dead end of life. Both Yorkin and Lear adaptations follow the same recipe: take one BBC show, add the milk of human kindness and stir for 30 minutes. "One of our major concerns was not to make Sanford look too grim," says Yorkin. "The Steptoe set in England was dark and gloomy; we took pains to make ours poor but not depressing."
Yorkin and Lear grew up in such a milieu poor but not depressing and both reach back to early days for authentic touches to bring their shows home to viewers. Lear's salesman father, though a second-generation Russian Jew, was almost as much of a source for Archie as Alf Garnett was. He used to call Norman "the laziest white kid I ever saw" and order his wife to "stifle" both expressions that were to become Archie's. The family shifted restlessly from New Haven, Conn., where Norman was born, to nearby Hartford, then to Boston and New York City, as the elder Lear pursued a variety of get-rich-quick schemes with a lot of gall but little success. Norman decided to become a pressagent like his uncle Jack, "the only relative on either side of my family who could throw a nephew a quarter when he visited."
After a year at Boston's Emerson College and another three with the Fifteenth Air Force near Foggia, Italy (since enshrined as Archie's old unit), Lear was laid off his first job with a Manhattan publicity firm. Then he went bankrupt with his own novelty ashtray business. He took his wife and infant daughter to Los Angeles, where half of his luck improved. He at least survived as a door-to-door salesman of furniture and baby pictures.
Lear and a fellow hawker named Ed Simmons decided that the street they really wanted to work was comedy writing. It was 1949; the infant medium of television was ravenous for material; the new team needed just one break in order to kiss baby pictures goodbye and Lear typically made it for them. Posing as a New York Times reporter, he got Danny Thomas' phone number from an agent. He called Thomas and offered him a piece of material for a benefit engagement that night at Ciro's in Hollywood. "How long will it run?" asked Thomas. "How long do you need?" replied Lear. "Seven minutes." Simmons and Lear wrote and delivered a routine in two hours, and Thomas liked it enough to use it. In the audience was David Susskind, then a New York agent, who was so impressed that he signed Lear and Simmons as writers for a TV show called The Ford Star Review.
By the time Yorkin and Lear crossed paths on the Martin and Lewis show two years later, the Lear-Simmons partnership was doing so well that it had to farm out some of its work to the younger team of Neil Simon, the future Broadway playwright, and his brother Danny. "To me Norman was big-time," recalls Yorkin, who was then a lowly assistant director. "He lived at the Waldorf and moved in a different world from my own."
Yorkin was born and raised in the coal-mining town of Washington, Pa., where his father, a women's wear merchant, was part of a tiny and somewhat beleaguered Jewish community. Anomalously armed with a degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie Tech, he went to New York in 1946 with the intention of becoming a theater director. A daytime job as a TV repairman supported his night classes in English literature at Columbia University. "My partner and I used to find excuses to fix sets in good restaurants so we could get free meals from the waiters," he says.
Eventually Yorkin's engineering background landed him a job as a cameraman at NBC. Zealously he sent executives a steady stream of critiques of the programs he transmitted. They were never answered. He moved up anyway, first to stage manager and then to the control booth, where producers and directors sit. There Lear spotted him and prevailed upon Martin and Lewis to make him their director.
Two Unicycles. Yorkin and Lear's flourishing careers over the next eight years defied geometry, being two parallel lines that finally intersected. In 1959, well after Lear had drifted apart from Simmons (now a script developer at Universal Studios), the new partnership of Tandem Productions was founded. The first joint venture was the movie Come Blow Your Horn, adapted from a play by former Lear Assistant Neil Simon, which everybody agreed would be a perfect vehicle for Frank Sinatra.
Everybody, that is, except Sinatra. When Sinatra failed to respond to a barrage of calls and telegrams from Yorkin and Lear, they hired a plane to fly over his house and skywrite their phone number. After eight months of such stunts, Sinatra agreed to do the picture "just to get you guys off my back."
Their wives gave Yorkin and Lear a two-seater bicycle to mark the launching of Tandem. Two unicycles would have been more appropriate. After the initial box office splash of Horn, their subsequent movies (Never Too Late, Divorce American Style) fared only soso. They decided to become parallel again, maintaining a loose, collaborative relationship and splitting their pooled earnings.
Today they kibitz freely about each other's projects, but friction is minimized because each supplies a different emphasis to the partnership. "Lear can put words in your mouth like nobody else," says Dick Van Dyke, who has starred in Yorkin and Lear efforts for both TV and movies. "Yorkin, as a director, is the ideal interpreter of Lear's writing." Lear is more preoccupied with creative matters. Yorkin, with more business acumen, is by his own admission "the heavy in financial deals."
Lear has the sort of temperament that might be described by Archie Bunker as "hebe Hollywood egghead" or, if Archie knew the word, compulsive. The only eye in the hurricane of activity that he whips up around him each day is the moment when he retires to the men's room for a thorough perusal of the New York Times. One of his two outside interests is writing letters to Presidents and other political leaders on such topics as Viet Nam, the ICBM debate and school desegregation. His voluminous correspondence with four Administrations is filed in a cabinet at his ten-room colonial house in Brentwood, where he lives with his second wife, ex-Department Store Executive Frances Loeb, and their two daughters. His other interest is psychoanalysis. After some four years in it, he is such a believer that he has been known to present young writers with $25 gift vouchers for initial sessions with analysts.
Yorkin blends more readily into the gregarious California lifestyle. Usually calm and direct, he can be stern at work (after being directed by him in a special, Fred Astaire gave him a bull whip), but he enjoys relaxing with a wide circle of friends. He and his wife former Actress Peggy Diem, by whom he has a son and a daughter shuttle between a Spanish-style home in Beverly Hills and a rented beach house at Malibu, where Yorkin occasionally dons an Archie Bunker sweatshirt and barbecues hot dogs for neighbors like the Henry Mancinis. Although, like Lear, he describes himself as a putative liberal, he sometimes turns up for dinner with Henry Kissinger when the presidential adviser makes one of his forays into Hollywood salons.
"I've seen Norman cry and I've seen Bud kick a door because things weren't working," says one of their aides. "But they've never attacked each other." Why not? "We have no ego problem," says Yorkin. "We know that whatever either of us succeeds in doing is good for both, because it all goes in the same pot." The pot is growing bigger; what to do next is becoming a multimillion-dollar question. Indeed, what else is left for Yorkin and Lear now that they have given TV a new system of dating B.B. and A.B. (Before Bunker and After Bunker)? How much longer can they compete with themselves for the top audience ratings?
Quite a while, no doubt. Already in the works is a one-hour special on Duke Ellington. Lear is preparing yet another sitcom series for a possible January debut on CBS, this one about a black family named Jones. "Sanford isn't trying to reflect real ghetto life," Lear maintains. "Compared with ghetto dwellers, those two men live very, very well. What I would like to do is a real black-ghetto family show."
Above all, though, Yorkin and Lear yearn to make it in the movies. The failure that each nurses most lovingly is a film. With Yorkin it is Start the Revolution Without Me, a 1970 farce about the French Revolution that he produced and directed. With Lear it is Cold Turkey, a 1971 satire in which he directed his own script about an Iowa town that collectively kicks the smoking habit. Erratic but lively and intriguing, both works were just slightly out of sync with the shifting rhythms of public taste that Yorkin and Lear's TV shows have always caught so uncannily.
But their timing is improving. Yorkin has directed, and Lear has partly written, a new movie due out early next year. It stars Ryan O'Neal as a burglar whose passion, as luck would have it, is chess. The original title was The Thief Who Came to Dinner. Now, their eyes aglow at the thought of the mania sweeping the country after the Fischer-Spassky match in Iceland, Yorkin and Lear are eagerly dreaming up a good chess title.
Here is Carroll O'Connor's Obituary from The New York Times
Carroll O'Connor, Embodiment of Social Tumult as Archie Bunker, Dies at 76
By RICHARD SEVERO JUNE 22, 2001
Carroll O'Connor, an actor trained in Shakespearean drama who achieved his greatest triumph playing Archie Bunker, television's malapropian, working-class bigot from Queens, died on Thursday at a hospital in Culver City, Calif. He was 76 and lived in Malibu, Calif.
The cause was a heart attack, said Joe Handy, a spokesman for the actor.
In a career spanning five decades, Mr. O'Connor won five Emmys. Four were for his work in CBS's ''All in the Family,'' in which he played Archie, that patriarch from Queens who in the 1970's became emblematic of a certain kind of American bigot. Archie called his forbearing wife a dingbat, his son-in-law a pinko Polack and his daughter a weepin' nellie atheist. He said these and other outrageous things with the certitude that is usually enjoyed only by someone of modest intellect. But in the way Mr. O'Connor handled the role, Archie emerged as a complex, not-always-wrong sympathetic figure to most of the 50 million weekly viewers in America. Liberals seemed to love Archie as much as conservatives; even some critics called him lovable.
Later in his career, he won a fifth Emmy and a Peabody Award for another television role, a crusty police chief who was Archie's opposite: a liberal, who worked in a Southern town. That role was for ''In the Heat of the Night,'' which ran from 1987 to 1994 on NBC. But Archie, the blusterer who worked on a loading dock, was by far his most memorable accomplishment. ''All in the Family'' ran from 1971 to 1979, and years after it ended people would see Mr. O'Connor on the street or in restaurants and call him Archie. He was asked repeatedly if he minded so intense an association with a character and Mr. O'Connor would reply, ''I love it.''
Archie, his wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton); daughter, Gloria (Sally Struthers); and his son-in-law, Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner) were the main protagonists in ''All in the Family,'' which was set mostly in Archie's spartan living room. The show was the creation of Norman Lear, who adapted it from ''Till Death Do Us Part,'' a BBC series. In its American incarnation, the comedy became groundbreaking social satire.
Mr. Lear instructed his writers to make Archie a multidimensional figure who was nevertheless, in Mr. Lear's words, ''a horse's ass.''
The Archie character proved so durable that it continued, for a time, even after the actors playing the other family members decided that they had to leave the show or risk being typecast. Mr. O'Connor said he did not mind continuing with Archie because he considered it his finest hour. He continued the character even though Mr. Lear thought Archie had run his course and ought to be retired. Mr. O'Connor got his way and the name of a subsequent show was ''Archie Bunker's Place.'' It ran from 1979 to 1983, but never commanded the same audience or critical loyalty as had ''All in the Family.''
Taking On Touchy Issues
''All in the Family'' tackled such issues as gender, race, religion, resistance to the Vietnam War, menopause, impotence and sexual conduct of all kinds, including homosexuality. Mr. O'Connor said he saw Archie as neither a hero nor an antihero but as a reactor. And he saw his role as that of a reporter of Archie's reactions. ''I do a damn good job of reporting,'' he told Playboy for an article in 1973.
Archie reacted with fear toward his bosses and with antagonism toward women and blacks, who he thought were becoming less docile and more uppity. He was powerless to do anything about his dead-end job and his dead-end life; he thought the Democratic Party was a front for Communism; he believed that Jews, Roman Catholics, blacks, Hispanics, Italians, Asians, Poles, the Irish and most others who were not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants could not really be trusted. (He was least convincing when he took unkind cuts at the Irish, because of his countenance.)
He also disliked short skirts, liberals, hippies and welfare. He believed in God and in the government (unless it intruded on him or gave his tax money to the poor) and he greatly admired President Richard M. Nixon, at least until Nixon went to China to confer with what Archie regarded as nothing more than commie atheists.
And with what he claimed was a Canarsie accent that he had lifted from a judge he once knew, Mr. O'Connor used many, but not all, of the ethnic and racial slurs that had been taboo in broadcasting. The result was extraordinary. Sammy Davis Jr., the black entertainer, made a guest appearance. But Whitney Young Jr., head of the Urban League, said that there was nothing funny about those epithets, which he called gratuitous insults.
A Liberal Off Stage
Mr. O'Connor, an outspoken liberal by conviction, defended the slurs. ''What we've done and what I've done is make Archie not the head of a lynch mob but a human being who is also a bigot,'' he told Playboy.
Sex was one of Archie's biggest issues. ''I don't mean no headache pills,'' Archie once said of the birth control pill. ''This kinda headache you take the pill for, you get in a motel.''
Gloria, who lived in his house, was married to a liberal graduate student whom Archie frequently called Meathead. Archie hated the thought of them having sex.
''You can't even bear the mention of the word sex,''' his daughter once told him. And Archie retorted, ''I don't allow no four-letter words in this house.''
Carroll O'Connor was born on Aug. 2, 1924, in New York, the son of a lawyer and a schoolteacher. The O'Connors lived well, at first in the Bronx, later in a larger apartment in Elmhurst, Queens, and finally in a nice single-family home in Forest Hills, Queens, then an enclave for people of means.
His memoir, ''I Think I'm Outta Here'' (Simon & Schuster), was published in 1998. Young Carroll skipped kindergarten and entered first grade at age 5. ''Thereafter I became impossible to teach and nobody was comfortable with me,'' he wrote in his memoirs. He said he learned next to nothing and was mired in a C-minus average.
He had a boy's avid interest in baseball and for a time wanted to be a sportswriter. In 1941 he began college at Wake Forest in North Carolina, but left after the war began, returned to New York, worked briefly as a newspaper copy boy and volunteered for the Naval Air Corps. But the Navy rejected him because of his poor college grades. He was also told that his teeth lacked the proper occlusion for Naval cadets.
He then entered the United States Merchant Marine Academy, which wasn't so choosey, and became a midshipman. His officers complained of his bad attitude. He dropped out and joined the National Maritime Union. During the late stages of the war, Mr. O'Connor sailed the North Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean as a merchant seaman.
He left the merchant marine in 1946, returned to his mother's house in Queens (his father had been sent to Sing-Sing after a fraud conviction) and began working for an Irish newspaper in New York that was run by his family. He thought he might make journalism a career and in 1948 returned to Wake Forest. He also took courses at Montana State University, where he met another student, Nancy Fields, whom he married in 1951. He is survived by his wife and his grandson, Sean.
He remained aimless, without a clear idea of what he wanted to do with his life. In 1950 he went to Dublin with his brother, Hugh, and enrolled in University College, Dublin, where he studied Irish history and English literature.
He was drawn to acting, took the stage name of George Roberts and began to appear in productions at Dublin's Gate Theater, working under direction of the Gate's founders, Michael MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards. He also appeared in productions of Shakespeare's plays at the Edinburgh Festival and in Cork, Limerick and Galway. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1952.
He returned to New York in 1954 and couldn't find work. ''I couldn't even get arrested,'' he said. He began teaching in the New York school system and taught for several years, becoming resigned to a non-celebrity life. Then one day in the late 1950's his wife read in the newspaper that Burgess Meredith was about to produce a stage version of James Joyce's ''Ulysses.'' He went to an audition, talked his way into a part and won favorable notice. It led to his being offered a role in an Off Broadway production of Clifford Odets's ''Big Knife,'' in which he played an unscrupulous Hollywood boss.
Television was then mounting serious productions, and in 1960 he got a role in ''The Sacco-Vanzetti Story'' for the Armstrong Circle Theater, in which he played the prosecutor. He became known as a reliable character actor and started getting movie roles, too. His films included ''A Fever in the Blood'' (1961), ''Lad: A Dog'' (1961), ''Lonely Are the Brave'' (1962) and ''Cleopatra'' (1963). His last project was the role of Minnie Driver's grandfather in ''Return to Me'' (2000).
Mr. O'Connor was living in Rome when he received the offer to play Archie. He was so convinced it would fail that he insisted the producers provide him with a round-trip ticket so he could return to Italy as soon as the show crashed.
After Archie ran his course, there were years when Mr. O'Connor wrote or acted in several productions that he hoped would demonstrate his versatility as an actor. He was not especially successful.
His first Broadway flop was ''Brothers'' (1983), which he directed and in which he played a father with four sons. He then produced a television movie called ''Brass,'' in which he wrote the script and played the leading character, a chief of detectives for the New York police. It didn't work, either.
In 1984 he was in ''Home Front,'' a play about a father, mother and daughter terrorized by a son who was a Vietnam vet. It closed after 13 performances. In 1995 Mr. O'Connor's play, ''A Certain Labor Day,'' opened in San Francisco with Mr. O'Connor in a starring role. The San Francisco Chronicle called it a ''heartfelt bungle of a new play'' and nothing more than a ''transformation of O'Connor's most enduring creation, television's Archie Bunker.''
The review embittered Mr. O'Connor and reinforced his dislike of the press.
Mr. O'Connor mostly avoided show business in his final years, although he did make television spots about the dangers of drug use.
His only son, Hugh, committed suicide in 1995, and the elder Mr. O'Connor later had a slander suit filed against him by Harry Perzigian, whom Mr. O'Connor accused of providing drugs for his cocaine-addicted son and of thus being ''a partner in murder.'' The suit was thrown out by a California jury in 1997.
As erudite and sophisticated as Mr. O'Connor was, there was nevertheless a side of him that identified with Archie Bunker. In the old ''All in the Family'' series, Archie and Edith were seen at the beginning of each show singing a wistful little song celebrating the virtues of the past.
In his memoir, Mr. O'Connor recalled his childhood in a way that was not so different from that song's sentiment.
''It was easy for us to be 'nice' kids,'' he wrote. ''We were not preyed upon by dope pushers, our pop music did not issue thunderous invitations to a semisensate flight from normality. Our music used to be played by skilled orchestras; intelligible singers rendered tunes about dancing in the dark while orchids bloomed in the moonlight and nightingales sang in Berkeley Square and stars fell on Alabama -- silly sentiments, but carried along by intelligent melodic phraseology, and if the words were doggerel they were often wonderfully compelling. I know my comparison is cranky, but there it is.''
Another Article From Time Magazine, this time published at the time of Carroll O'Connor's death.
Carroll O'Connor: Goodbye, Archie
Friday, Jun. 22, 2001 By JAMES PONIEWOZIK
The curse of the greatest TV actors is that no one believes they're acting. As Archie Bunker, the beseiged blue-collar bigot and patriarch of "All in the Family," Carroll O'Connor became his character so completely and physically that it was impossible to imagine him as a separate person. It wasn't just his New York-y delivery those "youses" and "terlets" but the way he carried himself: the tousled hair, the bone-weary shamble, the plaintive Irish eyes rolling heavenward at the dingbats and pinkos who surrounded him in his own house.
As O'Connor played him, Archie Bunker was perpetually and evocatively tired: tired from his job working the loading docks, tired from dealing with the new world of strangers (blacks, Jews, Catholics) who moved into his Queens neighborhood in a period of urban flux, tired of the shocks to his system as a lifetime of immutable values changed around him minute by minute. He put the "lump" in "lumpenproletariat." "All in the Family," the boundary-shattering comedy about what folks used to call "the generation gap," would have been a classic regardless, because of the passion of producer Norman Lear's ideas and the strength of his writing. But the show would not have had the resonance it did, and Archie Bunker would not be one of the three or four most important characters in TV history, without Carroll O'Connor.
Because, make no mistake, the man was acting. Unlike his braying, spluttering character, O'Connor was born in the Bronx but his real voice was no Bronx cheer; he was soft-spoken and thoughtful and said that he never heard Archie Bunkerisms growing up in his well-off childhood home. An accomplished journeyman stage and film actor, O'Connor made Archie into a character dry and operatic, hateful and touching where a cartoon would have sufficed. It would have been easy to make Archie a caricature (and he was one) or a straw man (he was that too). It would have been easy to make audiences laugh at him or dislike him. Dozens of actors could have made Archie Bunker a punch line. Carroll O'Connor made him a part of American history.
O'Connor's Archie Bunker at least for the show's raw, groundbreaking first half-decade captured a moment that political historians take for granted now but that Americans were only vaguely aware of at the time: the splintering of the classic New Deal Democrat coalition. Blue-collar union guys (like Archie) had depended on FDR and organized labor to secure them contracts, provide Social Security, look after their comfort: in short, to protect them and keep their world stable. Social justice to Archie was a pot roast on their table and an evening sit-down in his favorite chair. He was Nixon's "silent majority" personified; he was a Reagan Democrat years before anyone knew they existed.
Now a younger generation of liberals (like his son-in-law Michael "Meathead" Stivic) was upsetting all that. Their antiwar stance was, in his eyes, an insult to his Greatest Generation experience; their sexual openness shocked his values; and most shocking to him and to viewers their emphasis on civil rights opened the floodgates to minorities and rival ethnic groups, whom he called "spades" and "wops" and "Hebes" and so on without flinching. The flinching, O'Connor left up to us; he never acted to make us love or hate Archie, he said, but just to convey the truth of him as best he could.
"All in the Family" was really a years-long territorial war fought in the home (it's no accident the character's name was "Bunker"). O'Connor played Archie like a shambling, endangered silverback gorilla prowling and growling futilely around the carpeted perimeter of his living room. The values he developed through the depression and a war were fraying and decaying like his upholstered TV-watching throne. (The prominence of his other throne the upstairs toilet whose on-air flushing was so shocking three decades ago underscored the theme of Archie as an Astoria King Lear.)
Archie fought the sexual revolution by bemoaning the lusty couplings of Meathead and his "little goil" Gloria. He fought feminism in the person of cousin Maude (and, more subtly, his traditional but steel-spined wife Edith) and integration in the person of his neighbors the Jeffersons. And when the show sometimes veered into preachiness and staged editorials, he kept it grounded with his casual, rumpled humor.
O'Connor's performance remade that most stable of archetypes, the TV Dad. He prefigured Homer Simpson and Al Bundy; he took Ralph Kramden out of the realm of buffoonery and carried him to his logical extreme; he took the omniscient, benevolent TV dad of the '50s and exploded that figure as irrevocably as a gunpowder-stuffed tobacco pipe. Sure, this was a slap in the face of conservatives, who chafed at the show's Norman Lear liberalism. But the O'Connor's genius was that he played the part well enough to discomfit ideologues on the left too. Archie Bunker proved that satire is TV's most dangerous genre, because it cannot be controlled it requires interpretation, which is anathema to true believers.
The left-wing knock against "All in the Family," and more specifically against O'Connor's performance, was that people might enjoy it for the wrong reasons: bigots could use his most troglodytic insults, or sexists could call their wives "dingbats," and claim they were just quoting Archie. Worse, they argued, he made his working-class antihero empathetic and therefore, they argued, made his beliefs attractive. Wrong. Archie Bunker spoke to a whole country engaged in a second American civil war, fighting bitterly in their own living rooms with people they loved nonetheless. If he was too unreconstructed to admire, he was too real to dismiss: if you could not see yourself, or at least someone you loved, in Archie Bunker, his performance would have been meaningless, a feel-good tonic for a few progressive troops.
By making us feel for Archie Bunker, Carroll O'Connor made us think about Archie Bunker. It was a job he did so well it dogged the rest of his career (even though he went on to win another Emmy as a southern police chief in "In the Heat of the Night"), so well that it seemed easy, obvious and to some, dangerous. And that, my friends, is what you call acting.
For some more articles on All in the Family go to http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=lA40AAAAIBAJ&sjid=veAIAAAAIBAJ&dq=all-in-the-family&pg=383%2C3856273 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=4hMfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=CI0EAAAAIBAJ&dq=all-in-the-family&pg=6643%2C2504140 and http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_I4zAAAAIBAJ&sjid=l6EFAAAAIBAJ&dq=all-in-the-family&pg=979%2C4771824
For some clips from All in the Family go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=all+in+the+family++&aq=f
To go to Tim's TV Showcase go to http://timvp.com/tv/allinthefamily/
For some 1970's Nostalgia Websites go to https://web.archive.org/web/20100213022400/http://kclibrary.lonestar.edu/decade70.html and http://nostalgiacafe.proboards.com/board/8 and http://www.inthe70s.com/ and https://www.superseventies.com/ and https://www.70ps.com/
For some All in the Family-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/shows/all-in-the-family
For 2 great reviews of the series go to https://web.archive.org/web/20100911131735/http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=allinthefa and https://web.archive.org/web/20080215232040/www.televisionheaven.co.uk/aitf.htm
To hear Carroll O'Connor sing "Remembering You" go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/All_In_The_Family_-_Ending_Sung_by_Carroll_O_Connor.html
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Keywords: The Cast of All in Family (Links Updated 7/5/18)