10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘All In The Family’

  
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8. Casting

When the series was first being shopped by ABC, they wanted Tom Bosley, Jack Warden and Jackie Gleason for the lead role of Archie Bunker. The creator Normal Lear, however, wanted child actor Mickey Rooney to take on the character, but Rooney was deeply offended by Archie and told Lear, “Norm, they’re going to kill you, shoot you dead in the streets.” After his refusal, Carroll O’Connor was asked to read for the part and landed it, but he didn’t have high hopes for the series. When it came to casting Gloria, Rob Reiner had already been cast as Michael, and his then-girlfriend Penny Marshall was one of the last two actresses up for the role of Gloria along with Sally Struthers. Both women were called in to do readings with Reiner, and because of Marshall’s obvious chemistry with Reiner, Struthers thought there was no way she was going to get the role anyway. After landing the part, she asked years later why they chose her and a producer told her that Marshall’s reading had been better, but she looked too much like Jean Stapleton (Edith) and Gloria as a Daddy’s Girl should look like her father, so Struthers got the part because she had “a fat face and blue eyes like Carroll O’Connor.”

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7. Viewer Backlash?

CBS, Norman Lear, and the producers were fully aware that many were not going to like All in the Family’s tackling of major issues through the main character of the racist, sexist and homophobic Archie Bunker. Before each episode there was a disclaimer that read: “The program you are about to see is All in the Family. It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of laughter, we hope to show—in a mature fashion—just how absurd they are.” The series prepared for surefire backlash by hiring dozens of additional operators on the switchboard to deal with outraged callers, but the backlash never came. In fact, to the shock and some horror of the network, fans embraced Archie Bunker instead of being offended by him and the book “The Wit and Wisdom of Archie Bunker” became a bestseller.

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