Jean Stapleton thought about leaving All in the Family to pursue musical comedy

The actress valued her contract but knew musical comedy was something she'd like to take seriously.

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Playing the same character for a while has both benefits and cons. It could bring actors the recognition they've sought throughout their careers, especially if the role is "career-defining."

However, it can also become a little redundant and tiring if you're not allowed to work on other projects while filming that production. This can result in actors wanting to depart.

Jean Stapleton once laughed at the thought of her leaving All in the Family. Why? Because in her words, "I consider a contract as meaning something," she told The New York Times in 1974. This meant that she wasn't the type to break her contract and would instead follow through with the agreement.

She played the loveable Edith Bunker, the wife of Archie, who had to deal with his antics and judgemental outbursts. She usually would smooth things out with their guests when Archie's not-so-friendly demeanor and choice of words offended them.

The actress already had a solid career before accepting the role. She started in theatre at just 18 years old and was a part of several hit Broadway musicals. Although she laughed at the thought of leaving the show before, Stapleton admitted that she'd eventually want to.

"There are many things I'd like to do in the future," she said. "Eventually, I'd like to leave the series and concentrate on theatre again, to move seriously into musical comedy. But, well, I still have three more years to go on my Tandem Productions contract. I can't consider anything else until that has run its course."

Years later, Stapleton felt it was officially time to leave the show to pursue other gigs as she believed that her character ran its course. She didn't fully get into musical comedy as she had hoped, but she appeared in a lot of television shows, movies and even made her video game debut.

The actress also co-starred with Whoopi Goldberg in Bagdad Cafe in 1990.

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15 Comments

MC1707 11 months ago
When she left the series, she wanted nothing to do with her Edith character. Sad, as that made her a star in a lot of people’s eyes, THIS is how they knew her. This character “made” her. Yet watch her and Mr. O’Conner on the Donnie and Marie show. (YouTube) Asked to say something as Edith, she said not unless she gets paid for it. They thought it a joke but she was serious. She refused to even say the classic line, “Oh Archie.” Sad couldn’t do a simple thing for fans who helped “make her career.”
Wiseguy70005 MC1707 8 months ago
She didn't want to be known as just Edith. Repeating Edith's catchphrases would have made it look like that's all she could do.
MC1707 Wiseguy70005 8 months ago
I understand that, but All in the Family ended in 1979, they were on Donnie and Marie in 2011. ( last appearance together sadly) 30+ years later, I think the LEAST she could have done was the classic line of, “Oh Archie” for the fans who knew and loved her portrayal of the Edith character. …30+ years latter and you know most of the audience, INCLUDING Donnie and Marie hoped to see a, “a little” of who they knew. Fans are what make these people “stars.”
Pacificsun 11 months ago
So we forget (or not) that advertising revenue (meaning what they'll pay for a hit show's timelot) increases exponentially the longer a popular Series runs. And so the Pot gets sweetened the less the Production can afford to lose any member of the ensemble.

No doubt it worked that way for Fraiser too, since nobody bailed.

By the time an actor is (financially) enabled to leave, opportunities and sheer energy, changes.

She happened to be a person with integrity and loyalty. AITF doubled their good fortune, while applause for all the nice stories about Jean Stapleton! What a nice legacy.
Adanor 11 months ago
My father's side of the family comes from NYC and it is so wonderful to hear her talk.
Andybandit 11 months ago
I love Edith. She is my favorite character on AITF. I love the commercials on MeTv when Edith is singing off key, and Archie is looking at her like she has five heads, and another one were she is singing and Archie says you sound like nails on a chalkboard.
CoreyC 11 months ago
AITF should have been ended when Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers left when season 9 started the series was beginning to transition to Archie Bunker's Place and Jean's role as Edith reduced.
spockrocks 11 months ago
Did anyone else notice that William shartner’s last name is starting with an S the same as Spock? Just something to think about…
harlow1313 spockrocks 11 months ago
You know, both Gomer and Goober were Pyles. I think about that sometimes. I then feel better.
JHP harlow1313 11 months ago
then you had Denver Pyle (yes the real name:)) as a Darling and his jug - which maybeeee should have been examined for hooch? just spitballing (as Franks Burns quoted)
JHP spockrocks 11 months ago
It really amazes me that actors that have come from Canada -Shatner & Burr and others never really had that quaint Canadian accent... am not poking fun of anyone Canadian and their accent - we in the states have accents all over the place
Coldnorth harlow1313 11 months ago
Pyles of what? Sorry, I’m tired and slipped out before I could typing it. Lol
LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Nice follow up to the story that was posted last month regarding Jean Stapleton's departure from the AITF series.

https://www.metv.com/stories/jean-stapleton-was-not-angry-when-she-left-all-in-the-family

She was obviously very professional in her obligation, when she said:
" But, well, I still have three more years to go on my Tandem Productions contract. I can't consider anything else until that has run its course."
Runeshaper 11 months ago
Sounds like a solid and dedicated actress.
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