All in the Family

Jun 022013
 

Actress Jean Stapleton, known as Edith Bunker on 'All in the Family,' dies

Actress Jean Stapleton, Beloved as Edith Bunker on ‘All in the Family,’ Died /
US Celebrity Blog

Jean Stapleton is best known for her role as Edith Bunker – Archie Bunker’s wife – in the TV hit series All in the Family (1971–79) for which she won unprecedented THREE Emmy Awards! In the role of Edith Bunker, Jean Stapleton portrayed the quintessential, American wife and mother of the time: subservient to her husband, she nevertheless outshone him; projected warmth and wisdom in spite her alleged “naivete”.

Jean Stapleton was born on January 19, 1923, in New York City. She made her TV debut in Robert Montgomery Presents (1952). Stapleton appeared in the original Broadway casts of musicals Damn Yankees, Bells Are Ringing and Funny Girl. After the 8-year run of “All In The Family”, Jean returned to theater and continued acting on TV and in film.

Early Career

Stage and television actress Jean Stapleton attended Hunter College and worked as a secretary before studying acting. In 1949, she got her acting break, appearing in the national tour of the play Harvey. She worked as an actress Off Broadway, in stock and regional theater and then stepped into a starring role on Broadway in the 1953 production of In the Summer House.

Stapleton continued to perform in the theater, receiving attention for her role as Sister in the 1955 Broadway production of Damn Yankees, for which she sang the classic show tune “You Gotta Have Heart.” Other notable Broadway roles include playing Ella Peterson’s cousin Sue in the 1956 production of The Bells Are Ringing and Mrs. Strakosh in Funny Girl, the 1964 Broadway musical that launched Barbra Streisand’s career. She also appeared in the 1961 play The Rhinoceros and reprised her stage roles in the film versions of Damn Yankees and The Bells Are Ringing.

All in the Family

Stapleton broke into television, making guest appearances in Dr. Kildare and The Defenders. But it was her nasal-voiced performance in Damn Yankees that attracted the attention of television producer Norman Lear, who asked her to audition for what would become her most recognizable role, Archie Bunker’s wife Edith in All in the Family. She won the role in 1971.

Stapleton’s portrayal of bigoted Archie’s charming “ding-bat” wife earned her 8 Emmy nominations and three wins during her eight years on the show. The groundbreaking TV show confronted social and political issues including Edith’s breast cancer, menopause and death when Stapleton left the show in 1979.

Intelligent, liberal and outspoken off-screen, Stapleton strived to break away from being stereotyped as “Edith” after All in the Family ended. “My identity as an actress is in jeopardy if I invest my entire career in Edith Bunker,” Stapleton said in an interview with the AP in 1979.

Later Career

After leaving All in the Family, Stapleton took on many TV, film and stage roles. She made guest appearances on TV shows including Murphy Brown, Touched By An Angel and Everybody Loves Raymond and in movies including Michael in 1996 and You’ve Got Mail in 1998, both directed by Nora Ephron.

She also returned to her first love, the theater, starring in Eleanor, a one-woman show about Eleanor Roosevelt.

(She had also played Mrs. Roosevelt in a 1982 TV movie Eleanor, First Lady of the World, which earned her an Emmy nomination.) And she performed at the Totem Pole Playhouse in Pennsylvania, which was run by her husband of 25 years, director William Putch. In 1983, Putch died of a heart attack while he and Stapleton were touring in a play he had directed.

Death

Jean Stapleton, the veteran stage, film and TV actress died at the age of 90 of natural causes at her home in New York City on June 1st 2013. Norman Lear – the creator of “All In The Family” paid a tribute to the beloved actress: “No one gave more profound ‘How to Be Human’ lessons than Jean Stapleton.” US Celebrity Blog couldn’t agree more.

Respectfully excerpted from Biography.com (© 2013 A+E Networks)

Aug 142012
 
Sherman Hemsley

Remembering Sherman Hemsley, Star of The Jeffersons and All in the Family. Sherman Hemsley died on 24th of July 2012 at the age of 74.

Sherman Hemsley – in spite of the many roles he played – will always be best remembered for his role as George Jefferson. (It’s a little known fact that Sherman begun his TV career as George Jefferson in 1970 on “All in the Family” and his final role on TV in 2011 on “House of Payne” was also as George Jefferson…)

Sharp, temperamental, with a volcanic temper and a sense of humor to boot, Sherman Hemsley’s interpretation of George Jefferson made it possible for him to present even difficult topics in a lighthearted way. Comedic actors are rarely remembered for social contributions. Sherman Hemsley deserves to be recognized for raising awareness of the social ills of the 70s and 80s. It was his mastery as an actor that allowed viewers to embrace George Jefferson’s views.

Sherman Hemsley was born in Philadelphia on February 1st 1938. His first acting role – in a school play – was, not surprisingly, as a fire…. As a youth, he dropped out of school to join the Air Force where he spent several years. Upon his return, his mind was made up, Sherman decided to become an actor. He moved from Philadelphia to the center of the world (New York) where he worked at a post office during the day and studied acting at night.

Sherman didn’t pursue the role of George Jefferson. It was Norman Lear the writer and producer of “All in the Family” who approached Hemsley and offered him the role. Sherman didn’t jump at the opportunity: with prior commitments tying him for two years, he fulfilled those before joining the cast of “All in the Family”. The rest is history.

Sherman Hemsley shot to fame for his appearances on “All in the Family” and was so well-liked by audiences that 5 years later he became the star of his own spin-off “The Jeffersons” which lasted for 11 successful seasons. He and his co-star Isabel Sanford became so famous as their characters (Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson) that they were repeatedly invited as a team for guest appearances in movies, TV sitcoms and commercials.

Sherman Hemsley played other roles with his most notable perhaps as the deacon Ernest Frye on NBC sitcom “Amen” (1986) which continued until 1991. In 2011 Sherman Hemsley guest starred with George Jefferson’s maid (Marla Gibbs) on TBS’ “House of Payne”. In addition to his acting career, Sherman was also an accomplished singer.

Hemsley was a talented, successful and beloved character actor with many credits to his name. His unique, fiery personality and charm had (and continue to have) many fans. Surprisingly, Hemsley never married nor had children.

Sherman Hemsley died on 24th of July 2012 at the age of 74 from complications of lung cancer. He didn’t smoke.