Carroll O'Connor's nine-year-old son responded to a hate letter his father received
O'Connor didn't even know about the letter until he found a copy of his son's reply.
Carroll O'Connor made no secret about the fact that he was nothing like his All in the Family character, Archie Bunker. O'Connor saw Archie as a way to portray backwards thinking and a stubborn unwillingness to change with the times. "I feel sorry for him," O'Connor said in a 1974 interview with The Evening Sun. "He's a victim of his upbringing and his environment."
Some audience members didn't get the memo, however. According to the Newspaper Enterprise Association, one of them wrote in with a vitriolic letter where they really let O'Connor have it. O'Connor didn't respond to that particular letter, though, because he didn't receive it. It was intercepted by his then nine-year-old son, Hugh, who liked to look through his father's fan mail. O'Connor didn't even know this had happened until he found a copy of the response his son had written to the irate viewer.
"To Mrs. Helen X," Hugh wrote, "I don't like what you said about my dad. A matter of fact, I'm very proud of him. I think you and your husband should think it over. Besides, my dad loves everybody from every Nation, Country, State, and Contenant (sic). My dad is just acting a biget (sic) on T.V. to show what real bigets (sic) do and say. My dad is really a nice man."
Hugh finished by adding "P.S. I hope you have learned your lesson and I hope your husband learns it to. Sighned (sic), Hugh O' Connor."
O'Connor was so taken by the letter that his son had written that he kept the copy in his wallet.
Hugh and his father remained close for years, with Hugh even joining the cast of In the Heat of the Night as Officer Lonnie Jamison. Tragically, in 1995, Hugh passed away after a long battle with addiction. O'Connor spent the rest of his life raising awareness about drug addiction and appearing in PSAs for The Partnership For a Drug-Free America.