Carroll O'Connor: ''Television producers are cruel''

''They can kill you.''

It shouldn't shock anyone to learn that Carroll O'Connor was just as outspoken as his role on TV, Archie Bunker. While the actor and his character may not align politically, they have strong convictions in common. The difference is O'Connor learned and changed, while Archie did not. With change, sometimes, comes conflict.

In a 1974 interview with the Baltimore Evening Sun, O'Connor detailed his grievances with the people behind the scenes of All in the Family.

"I've been asking the producers for two years for some administrative changes, and they aren't forthcoming. I've got about 92 percent of what I wanted from the show, but time is running out. They can get someone else to do Archie."

While Archie Bunker was the role that made him instantly famous, O'Connor had a long career in acting prior to All in the Family. He had plenty of experiences to compare with his current lot in life. Before starring in the Norman Lear-developed series, O'Connor had 26 film credits.

"I don't like the feeling of being owned by producers. Television producers are cruel and they can kill you. Movie producers are much nicer and take better care of you."

With the clarity of hindsight, we know that at the time of this interview, O'Connor was nowhere near finished portraying Archie Bunker. But at the time, he remained steadfast in the press that his problems weren't resolved.

"I cannot at this moment plan to go on with All in the Family," said O'Connor in '74. He'd continue with the show in its original format through 1979.

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12 Comments

LLERBMIK1981 7 months ago
Wow…Lear’s father must have been a real LISER.
ncadams27 7 months ago
I think actors can get too carried away with playing their part. Instead of following the scripts like the writers want the characters to do, I feel some actors want their lines to reflect their own thoughts and how they - not the character - would react. But I also think viewers sometimes think the actors and the characters they play are one in the same.
Jeffrey ncadams27 7 months ago
"One AND the same." NOT IN.
ncadams27 Jeffrey 7 months ago
Yes, you are correct, it is “one and the same”, although I’ve seen the other phrase used. No need to shout, I got it.
Andybandit 7 months ago
Nobody else could play Archie's role. He was good playing a bigot, even though that is not nice. Then he played on ITHOTN, with black people, white people, and he had to have a southern accent.
Mark 7 months ago
Well, he DID eventually become one of the producers when the show became Archie Bunker's Place...
musicman37 7 months ago
Let's see, the show made him rich and famous. And who wouldn't want to be employed being the same character (who did evolve, despite himself) for 12 years? Boo-hoo for the other 8%.
Zip 7 months ago
I don't know exactly what Carroll wanted, but getting 92% of it seems pretty good to me, especially when you are part of an ensemble cast. In other words, you're not the only one on the show, Arch.
LoveMETV22 7 months ago
Good article. it sounds like Carroll O'Connor worked out his problems as he remained with the series through 1979.
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" Television producers are cruel and they can kill you. Movie producers are much nicer and take better care of you."

Guessing the difference between TV Producers and Movie Producers might have something to do with the timetable(s) both have to deliver the finished product.
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