Jean Stapleton knew that Edith Bunker wasn't stupid

"Edith is the power."

In comedy, there's a difference between laughing at and with someone. While both measures can be executed successfully, a comedy writer's mission is to ensure that their audience isn't laughing for all the wrong reasons.

In a show like All In The Family, there's a healthy amount of both laughing at and laughing with the characters, though who you're laughing at and with might say more about you than the series itself. However, some viewers might find themselves laughing a bit harder at Edith Bunker, Archie Bunker's better half, or as she's "affectionately" known, dingbat. While funny, a cursory glance at the series may have you convinced that Edith Bunker is nothing more than a ditzy housewife, not worth any deep analysis. The good news is that if you're of that opinion, we already have our counterarguments prepared, courtesy of Edith Bunker herself, Jean Stapleton. 

In an interview with The Cincinnati Post, Stapleton revealed that she received fan letters attempting to comfort her. The article states that the fan mail "tells her she is waging the good fight which is not a losing battle, but a very worthwhile one."

Stapleton had been with Edith Bunker from the very beginning of the show and kept a fierce attitude about her throughout. She stated, "I've always believed in her, right from the start."

The actor also explored the mind of Edith Bunker and maintained, "She's not a stupid woman; sometimes she is slow thinking but in moments that count, she gets on base. Not in Archie's eyes, maybe, but she gets there just the same even if she has to appear stupid to do it."

She continued, "She has lived and learned how to manage her man and family. Archie is the head of the house but Edith is the power behind him because she loves him and can accept what she has to accept." Ultimately, Edith served as the glue that kept the Bunker family together, and probably kept them sane as well. Stapleton commented, "She's very real and the viewers know this." Moreover, Stapleton was aware that some people might be laughing at Edith rather than with her, but that was just fine by her. She said, "Maybe they feel superior to her but that's not bad either. She's a warm human being!"

Dingbat or not, Stapleton still loved Edith with the tenderness and care of an old friend. She confirmed, "I feel privileged to be able to bring her to life."

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7 Comments

Runeshaper 3 months ago
That's really cool. I'm glad that Jean thought so highly of Edith.
forthekids 3 months ago
I couldn't stand the character of "Mrs.Edith Bunker"and her damn non stop babbilng.
Andybandit 3 months ago
To put up with Archie, JS played the role of Edith very well. She is my favorite character on AITF
Pacificsun 3 months ago
It's interesting .... what these Classic TV actors say about the privilege of working in a ground breaking Series says an awful lot about them. JS saw and expressed the positive side of a challenging role. It certainly could've been played attempting laughter at every turn. But I think she was successful in garnering sympathy and admiration instead. Knowing how many women get stuck as the partner of someone who underappreciates them. The times of that day and age were also different. Less opportunity for being self-supporting and breaking away from a tiresome marriage. Instead she demonstrated loyalty, patience, long-suffering love, and endless optimism. Her greatest gift was being inspirational. And for the day and age, perhaps a model to many down-trodden spouses. JS was quite a gentle and gracious lady!


Not in Archie's eyes, maybe, but she gets there just the same even if she has to appear stupid to do it."
Runeshaper Pacificsun 3 months ago
Well said!
LoveMETV22 3 months ago
Although AITF was Jean Stapleton's most prominent role, she was a very smart and talented actress in other roles.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 3 months ago
A renown stage actress too, if am not mistaken.
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