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December 05, 2020

Inside 'All in the Family' Star Sally Struthers' Life after Nationwide Fame

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Sally Struthers mostly vanished from television screens at the height of her career. The change didn't happen by choice, and the "All in the Family" star transformed her career into that of an activist. 

Sally Struthers became best known for her role as Gloria Stivic, a role she actually portrayed in three different television series. First in "All in the Family," then in "Archie Bunker's Place" in 1979, followed by "Gloria" in 1982.

"All in the Family" aired from 1971 until 1979, and it broke boundaries. The Norman Lear production tackled various taboo topics such as race relations, sexuality, menopause, and it became very popular among viewers.

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 THE BUILD-UP

Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1948, everything about Struthers made her popular among viewers. With blue eyes, blond hair, and a doll-like prettiness, she had an endearing demeanor that made her very appealing.

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During the late '60s heading into the '70s, Struthers landed small but notable roles in big hits on the silver screen, including "Five Easy Pieces" alongside Jack Nicholson in 1970, and in "The Getaway" two years later with Steve McQueen.

While starring in "All in the Family," Struthers also got involved in making other popular films. In 1976, she starred in "The Great Houdini," followed by "Intimate Stranger" in 1977, and "My Husband is Missing" the following year.

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THE TIDES OF CHANGES

But then the acting roles ran dry. "All in the Family" had ended, and Struthers suddenly found herself in unfamiliar territory. Despite her fame, she couldn't land a decent role, and Struthers had no idea why, as she said:

“I don’t know. It’s the strangest phenomenon to be at the top of the mountain and the next day to be at the bottom, but somehow you didn’t feel the fall.”

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THE SHIFT OF FOCUS

Struthers found a new acting home on the stage, and she went on to star in about 30 shows since then. But as her old acting door closed, the door to her true happiness opened.

The actress became an activist for ChildFun, an organization raising awareness for children suffering in developing countries. A divorced mother of one, her daughter, Samantha, earned a degree in Cognitive Science in 2001.

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In December 1977, Struthers married the psychiatrist William C. Rader. They only had the one child and daughter together before they divorced six years later in 1983.

A FAREWELL

Sally Struthers stayed close to her "All in the Family" onscreen mother over the years. Jean Stapleton played the role of the family matriarch, Edith Bunker, but sadly she passed in 2013 aged 90.

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Recalling their last conversation before Stapleton passed, Struthers said that they had a lovely time catching each other up on their respective lives and the doing of their children. A fond memory to hold on to.

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