Carroll O'Connor almost quit All in the Family in 1977

We would've had to say goodbye to Archie if the actor's conditions weren't met.

On Now
Watch 2 full hours of All in the Family Sundays at 8P | 7C
Up Next:

Have you ever imagined what All in the Family would've been like without Archie? The thought probably never even crossed your mind, but it almost happened in 1977.

Carroll O'Connor wanted a few issues resolved before he stepped back into the role of Archie for the show's then-upcoming seventh season. No, it wasn't anything like gaining a bigger dressing room or not wanting to work with certain cast members.

According to an article in the Rutland Daily Herald in 1977, they were filming preferences that could affect working conditions.

The star didn't want to work before a live audience anymore. And he didn't want to work in front of three cameras or on tape. These were non-negotiables that O'Connor hoped Norman Lear would approve. If he didn't, the bright future of All in the Family would've been dimmed.

The article in the newspaper stated, "O'Connor has the trump card. His current contract expires at the end of this season. It is possible that the series would survive without him, with the focus [on Edith Bunker]." Yet, no one felt that the show would remain strong without the beloved character and actor.

O'Connor was willing to continue as Archie if his conditions were met.

"There is 80 percent less strain working with film," the actor told Rutland Daily Herald. "When you work live, it's like a new play every week. You really sweat up. When you do it on film, without an audience, you can take your time, redo scenes if necessary. The strain of the pace working with film is the editor's problem, not mine."

When O'Connor started, he actually thought audiences would loathe the content, but he agreed to be in it because he felt it had a substantial social significance.

"That's why I went into it in the first place," he added. "I thought it would flop. I figured the press would love it, but the public would hate it. It turned out just the other way around."

Obviously, his demands were met as All in the Family switched from filming live and in front of a studio audience. So O'Connor continued his role.



Watch All in the Family on MeTV!

Two full hours!

Sundays at 8 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

15 Comments

ira29 14 months ago
Having worked in both motion picture and TV today there is little difference in the two except budgets and shooting schedules. TV has a much more compressed shooting schedule with some shows shooting episodes every 5 days. Movies usually shoot anywhere from 30 (TV movies) days to over a year with some features. And as you know most if not all is now shot digitally. Rarely if e er are TV sitcoms now shot in front of a live audience's and retakes are common place in both. The stress is still there of course as with any job you want to achieve in. Despite all this both movie and TV production is still long hours and extremely hard work.
AgingDisgracefully 14 months ago
Fevered Ego! A showbiz requirement!
Moody 14 months ago
He must not have ever worked on stage. Isn't that what stage actors have to deal with every night? As far as the ratings drop, I think the show started its decline long before the format change. I could be wrong but that's my feeling anyway. I stopped watching after the first 4 or 5 years so maybe that's just my perception.
Avie Moody 14 months ago
Spencer Tracy started his career on stage, but once he went to Hollywood and became a "movie actor," he never wanted to set foot on a stage again, and never did. A lot of actors are that way -- acting in movies is far easier, and compensated far better -- and so, apparently, was O'Connor.
Moody Avie 14 months ago
I agree but a lot of actors prefer working on stage rather than film. They love the instant feedback from the audience in a live performance & the more intimate feel of live theater. For some, acting is more than compensation it's about the performance.
Pacificsun 14 months ago
"There is 80 percent less strain working with film," the actor told Rutland Daily Herald. "When you work live, it's like a new play every week. You really sweat up. When you do it on film, without an audience, you can take your time, redo scenes if necessary. The strain of the pace working with film is the editor's problem, not mine."
-------------------------------------

Well that's a diplomatic way of putting it. As in, I'll take my share of the profit and reduce the workload. While most actors feel their better work is from pulling the audiences' energy. Which gives them a cue about comedic timing and pleasure from entertaining the audience. Lucille Ball certainly worked her tail off!

My guess is Carroll O'Connor didn't want to hear his jokes fall flat. Just a hunch. While another contributor said when they changed the format is when the ratings started going in the other direction.
rb5391 14 months ago
as soon as they did that the ratings plummented....dont mess with success...tweak it, but dont change it
cperrynaples 14 months ago
The bigger dressing room was Redd Foxx! Ironically, he did leave Sanford & Son in 1977 to go to ABC, but came back 3 years later on Sanford!
madvincent cperrynaples 14 months ago
would love to see it on METV..............
cperrynaples madvincent 14 months ago
It's on another channel, but you can watch it on Peacock!
Moverfan madvincent 14 months ago
Might have to wait a while...it's on GetTV at the moment.
JohnGibbons madvincent 14 months ago
It is on MeTV - Sunday nights
JohnGibbons Moverfan 14 months ago
It’s on MeTV Sunday nights. They wouldn’t be doing this story if it wasn’t on MeTV. 😉
Moverfan JohnGibbons 14 months ago
I was referring to Sanford & Son--see the post by cperynaples about the bigger dressing room.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?