'All in the Family:' 15 Facts about the Show That Fans Might Not Know

For the eight years "All in the Family" aired from 1971, the American sitcom tackled topics widely considered as taboo, and for that reason, it was considered groundbreaking at the time.

The sitcom received an astonishing 73 award nominations and 42 wins during its run, but behind the scenes, all sorts of interesting things happened. Let's have a look.

"All in the Family" cast of 1976. Standing are Sally Struthers (Gloria) and Rob Reiner (Michael); seated are Archie (Carroll O'Connor) and Edith (Jean Stapleton), who is holding the child who played the Bunker's grandson, Joey. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

"All in the Family" cast of 1976. Standing are Sally Struthers (Gloria) and Rob Reiner (Michael); seated are Archie (Carroll O'Connor) and Edith (Jean Stapleton), who is holding the child who played the Bunker's grandson, Joey. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

1. BRITISH ORIGINS

For ten years from the beginning of 1965, "Till Death Do Us Part" aired on BBC series, and it followed the lives of Alf Garnett and his working-class family living in London's East End.

Alf always had much to say about anything and everyone "different" than him, and Norman Lear bought the rights to the show in the late 1960s after reading about it.

2. ARCHIE ORIGINALLY HAD ANOTHER SURNAME

Norman Lear named his original pilot script "Justice for All," and cast Carroll O'Connor as Archie Justice and Jean Stapleton as his wife, Edith.

ABC passed on the show because they felt that Archie and Edith lacked chemistry with the younger actors. Even when Norman went about recasting the lead roles and renaming the show "Those Were the Days," the network still turned it down.

3. NORMAN LEAR BASED ARCHIE BUNKER CHARACTER ON HIS FATHER

The Lear family always seemed to speak at top volume while Norman's father, Herman frequently called him "lazy" or "Meathead."

Name-calling extended to his wife, who he referred to as "Dingbat," while Herman also had a particular living room chair only for his use.

Publicity photo of Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton as Archie and Edith Bunker and guest star James O'Reare as the government official in 1973. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Publicity photo of Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton as Archie and Edith Bunker and guest star James O'Reare as the government official in 1973. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

4. MICKEY ROONEY ALMOST BECAME ARCHIE BUNKER

Mickey turned down the role of Archie Bunker the minute Norman Lear offered it to him because of the show's controversial content and said, "Norm, they're going to kill you."

5. THE FIRST EPISODE CAME WITH A WARNING

Norman finally got his third pilot on the air on January 12, 1971, and it included 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.” In the first two versions, the show’s opening title was accompanied by “Suggested for the mature audience.”  

6. THE COMMONALITY BETWEEN 'ANNIE' AND 'ALL IN THE FAMILY'

The show's theme song, Those Were The Days and the music for "Annie" both came from the composer Charles Strouse. He worked with Lee Adams on the lyrics for the series' theme song, and with lyricist Martin Charnin on the music for "Annie."

Charles Strouse and Lee Adams became well-known for writing music for "Bye Bye Birdie" in 1960, and again in 1970 for "Applause."

7. LYRICS FOR THE CLOSING THEM WRITTEN BY CARROLL O'CONNOR

The catchy piano theme, Remembering You, by the composer Roger Kellaway closed every episode of the sitcom. However, the tune also had lyrics, which Carroll O'Connor wrote.

Actor Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Actor Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

In 1972, Carroll and Roger performed the song on "The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour," and from the comedy's third season, Carroll received credit as co-writer.

8. THE FINAL SEASONS SAW MANY CHANGES

Archie bought the local hangout, Kelsey's Bar at the beginning of the show's eighth season, while Mike and Gloria left for California with their baby, Joey close to the end of the season.

Edith and Archie took in their 9-year-old grand-niece, Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois) to fill their empty nest, while Archie's friend, Barney Hefner (Allan Melvin) saw an increase in screen time.

9. THE SERIES HAD MORE SPIN-OFFS THAN ANY OTHER SITCOM

"Maude" with Bea Arthur as Edith's cousin became the first of five direct "All In The Family" spin-offs in 1972. "The Jeffersons," with Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley as neighbors to the Bunkers came next, followed by the short-lived "Gloria" in 1982, wherein Struthers raised Joey after divorcing Mike.

The forth spin-off came with "Archie Bunker's Place," and lastly came "704 Hauser" in 1994, with a new family living in the Bunker house. 

10. EDITH AND ARCHIE REUNITED ONE LAST TIME 

Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor came together for old times sake on Marie and Donny Osmond's talk show on April 24, 2000.

Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton as Archie and Edith Bunker. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton as Archie and Edith Bunker. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The pair affectionately held hands kissed and hugged it out while they reminisced about their time on the comedy series.

11. EDITH DIDN'T LIVE ON IN 'ARCHIE BUNKER'S PLACE"

Jean Stapleton left the show after its ninth season. When the sitcom continued without her, Norman Lear changed the show's name and "All In The Family" aired its final episode on April 8, 1979.

"Archie Bunker's Place" made its debut on September 23 of that year, and Jean starred in a few episodes until her character, Edith had an offscreen death after suffering a stroke.

Cast photo from  "All In the Family." Back: Rob Reiner (Mike Stivic). Front, from left: Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker), Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker), Sally Struthers (Gloria Bunker Stivic). | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Cast photo from "All In the Family." Back: Rob Reiner (Mike Stivic). Front, from left: Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker), Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker), Sally Struthers (Gloria Bunker Stivic). | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

12. VIEWER BACKLASH EXPECTED BY CBS NEVER MATERIALIZED

CBS braced for an outpour of disgust from viewers the night "All in the Family" premiered despite the disclaimer that accompanied the first episode.

The network hired a hoard of additional switchboard operators to handle the incoming outrage, however, only a handful of viewers felt offended enough to call. 

In contrast to their initial thoughts, viewers embraced Archie Bunker and the series grew more popular as the seasons progressed.

Archie Bunker's house situated at the fictitious address, 704 Hauser Street. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Archie Bunker's house situated at the fictitious address, 704 Hauser Street. | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

13. THE MALE NUDITY

Delving deeper into the list of taboo's featured on the sitcom with full-frontal male nudity, Michael Stivic and his wife Gloria's 3-week old son, Joey Stivic, appeared in his birthday suit.

14. PENNY MARSHALL ALMOST SNAGGED THE ROLE OF GLORIA

Norman Lear had already cast Rob Reiner as Michael Stivic when he started looking to cast his onscreen wife. At the time, Rob's wife, Penny Marshall contended for the role with Sally Struthers, who eventually got the part due to her close resemblance to her onscreen father, Carroll O'Connor.

Cast of  "All In the Family" in 1973. Standing, from left: Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker), Mike Evans (Lionel Jefferson), Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker). Seated: Sally Struthers (Gloria Bunker Stivic) and Rob Reiner (Mike Stivic). | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Cast of "All In the Family" in 1973. Standing, from left: Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker), Mike Evans (Lionel Jefferson), Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker). Seated: Sally Struthers (Gloria Bunker Stivic) and Rob Reiner (Mike Stivic). | Source: Wikimedia Commons.

15. SAMMY DAVIS JR. IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LONGEST LAUGH ON THE SERIES

Good friends with Carroll O'Connor in real life, Sammy Davis Jr. guest-starred on an episode in season 2 of the comedy. 

Right at the end of the episode, Sammy kissed Carroll after he came up with the idea. Much to everyone's surprise, the audience responded with the longest and loudest laugh in the show's history.

Relatedly, around the same time "All in the Family" came to an end in 1979, another sitcom, "The Facts of Life" made its way onto television.

During its almost decade long supply of laughter, "The Facts of Life" became a legendary sitcom while its cast became well-known faces on television.

In the decades since the comedy ended, the cast is fondly remembered by fans until today, while they continued building successful careers.

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