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. 

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29 Comments

CoreyC 9 months ago
Carroll O'Connor auditioned to be The Skipper in Gilligan's Island but he didn't have the lovable nature of Alan Hale Jr.
EmiliaPastierHeffren 9 months ago
It is obvious that Archie Bunker was a fictional character and not what Carol O'Connor was in real life. There were so many articles written at the time to that effect. The show was made for racists and/or bigots to see how ridiculous they were and was so funny at the same time. Kudos to Mr. Lear!
Carroll in real life was a bigger liberal than Rob Reiner. He wanted to portray Archie's bigotry cause of ignorance, lack of education and how he was raised by his father.
Suzies1952 9 months ago
Wow, never knew that, a son to be proud of, the letter was really something for a boy so young, people can be hateful, I’m disabled, and in a wheelchair, you wouldn’t believe the horrid things I’ve gone through because of things people have said to me over the years, one time, it happened in a grocery store, the man had me in tears, but strangers that were there, came to my aide , to comfort me, so it shows, for all the awful people out there, there are the ones who are as nice as the bad!, it’s too bad about his son, that he lost him to the addiction he had, but I think O’Connor found comfort in trying to help other people with addictions, I watch them together, in the heat of the night and it was from this site, that I found out, that was his son on the show, with him. Glad they had that time together before his passing I hope, some of the people who thought that of O’Connor, read this!, we have way too much hate in this world he was just an actor, playing a character that he did very well, I enjoy watching him on Sunday nights , loved Jean Stapleton too what an actor, she was too
Sooner 9 months ago
If O'Connor had believed in any of the conservative ideals of Archie, he would have never admitted it as the hollyweirdos would have censored and banned him just like they have with Rosanne and Tim. There is no room for opinion outside of the left coast.

Sadly, In the Heat of the Night was one of the great shows of all time, but it is reported that many of the cast were deep into cocaine, including Hugh. His dad should have suspended, then fired any that persisted in the behavior. There were a number of cast members that ended up on a rocky road because of it.
tfhodges 9 months ago
I was a young kid growing up in the Deep South when AITF originally aired. I knew the show was a trigger for many people one way or another, but it seemed like everyone watched it nonetheless. I clearly remember merchandise that said, "ARCHIE BUNKER FOR PRESIDENT!" The bigots I grew up around thought that it was a serious thing.
JeffSchafer 9 months ago
"O'Connor saw Archie as a way to portray backwards thinking and a stubborn unwillingness to change with the times."

O'Connor said "He's a victim of his upbringing and his environment."

His son died from drug 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."

Sounds like O'Connor did a poor job of upbringing his son. He should have taught his son how to do things in moderation.

People can OD on ANYTHING, including food. Look at all of the obese people there are now.
And, they are going to have health problems for the rest of their short life.
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Wiseguy70005 JeffSchafer 9 months ago
There can be many causes for obesity. Do some research.
LadyKiKi84 JeffSchafer 9 months ago
That’s an unfair assessment. Do you actually know how he got started on drugs? He was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, he had chemotherapy and surgeries as a result of this he ended up addicted to drugs. His dad did every single thing he could to help him. And what does moderation have to do with anything?
Sooner Wiseguy70005 9 months ago
None of them legitimate as something that can be avoided. I know, I work in healthcare and worked in an institute that specialized in treating diabetes and obesity.
Taffee JeffSchafer 8 months ago
No, jerk, he wasn't a bad parent. It would have been nice if the article had mentioned that Hugh O'Connor's addiction began during his battle with childhood cancer.
RubyJuly 9 months ago
I vividly remember Carroll O'Connor's blunt anti-drug commercials. He was a genuinely heartbroken parent saying pointedly and without any fanfare "do whatever you have to get keep your kids away from drugs" and citing his son's death. It made a big impression.
Peter_Falk_Fan 9 months ago
It's a shame that people can't differentiate actors from their characters, or maybe they don't want to. But, some people are going to hate, even if they know they're wrong. Kudos to Hugh for protecting and defending his father, and kudos to Carroll O'Conner for playing a character that showed how stupid bigotry is.
justjeff Peter_Falk_Fan 9 months ago
Now, if we could just impart that wisdom to the brainess masses who post hateful messages on social media - perhaps there might still be a chance for [at least] part of our hateful society...
Runeshaper 9 months ago
It's GREAT of a son to stick up for his father. So sad how Hugh passed. I'm glad Carroll 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. That was cool.
CoreyC 9 months ago
Many actors got typecast by their most famous roles.
LoveMETV22 9 months ago
Interesting story about Carroll O'Connor and his son, Hugh. It's unfortunate that Mr. O'Connor was frequently typecast/stereotyped because of the Archie role he played on AITF.
Carroll O'Connor had many other roles in both Film and Television before and after AITF.

As referred to in the article it- " is just acting."
cperrynaples 9 months ago
If I'm not mistaken, wasn't Hugh adopted by the O'Conners?
tfhodges CoreyC 9 months ago
Hugh was born in Italy, if I am not mistaken.
Taffee tfhodges 8 months ago
You are not mistaken.
Andybandit 9 months ago
Good for Hugh to defend his Dad like that. Too bad he passed away so soon.

cperrynaples Andybandit 9 months ago
Yes, I believe he died 6 years before his father! I remember how Bonnie Hunt asked Carroll about Hugh during the shooting of Return To Me, his final film!
texasluva 9 months ago
Such a wonderful story but tragic ending for his son. Lonnie was not the only one from ITHOTN that had an addiction problem. Carroll's Co-Star Howard Rollins suffered from it along with crimes committed (under the influence) which he was released from the show.

Carroll O'Connor played in many a movie earlier in his career along with tv shows but got tagged for quite awhile for his portrayal of Archie Bunker.
justjeff texasluva 9 months ago
It takes a *very good* actor to play against their personaity... O'Connor for Archie Bunker, Jean Hagen for blond silent star "bimbo" Lina Lamont in "Singin' in the Rain", Gracie Allen as her dimwitted alter-ego and many others.

Some people can't separate fantasy from reality, thus this belief that the actor is the character and the character is the actor...
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