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a young Sally Struthers | Source: Getty Images
a young Sally Struthers | Source: Getty Images

What Happened to Sally Struthers 53 Years after 'All in the Family's' Release – Inside Her Life

Roshanak Hannani
Jul 05, 2024
03:50 A.M.
  • Sally Struthers, famous for playing Gloria Stivic in "All in the Family," has transformed from an insecure 22-year-old actress to a versatile performer over her decades-long career.
  • Her personal life took an unexpected turn when she married psychiatrist William Rader and became a mother.
  • Now in her '70s, Struthers continues to charm audiences, especially Australian people who have loved her since a funny interview with one of their best comedians.
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Sally Struthers captured America's heart as Gloria Stivic in the groundbreaking sitcom "All in the Family," and years later, she played the sassy Babette Dell in "Gilmore Girls."

Born on July 28, 1947, in Portland, Oregon, Struthers pursued acting after high school, eventually landing the role that would define her early career but also give her a chance to meet her husband.

Sally Struthers after a taping of "All in the Family" in Studio City, California on January 1, 1972 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers after a taping of "All in the Family" in Studio City, California on January 1, 1972 | Source: Getty Images

Over the years, she's transformed from a young actress to a seasoned performer, wife, and mother.

Despite the passage of time, fans still admire her vibrant personality and enduring charm, proving that Struthers has indeed aged like fine wine.

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Sally Struthers as Patty Pepper for "In the Best Interest of the Children" in 1992 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers as Patty Pepper for "In the Best Interest of the Children" in 1992 | Source: Getty Images

Her Time in "All in the Family"

Between 1971 and 1978, Struthers played Gloria Stivic, née Bunker, on CBS's landmark show "All in the Family." At 22, she was still finding her footing in the industry.

The actress could've been described as insecure as well as someone who had yet to outgrow the nickname her mother gave her, "Samantha Featherhead."

Sally Struthers in an episode of "All in the Family" in 1971 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers in an episode of "All in the Family" in 1971 | Source: Getty Images

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But she persevered in the television industry and hasn't slowed down since the 1970s. Gloria became a beloved character, but despite the character's popularity, Struthers felt she had little in common with her.

In an interview with Closer Weekly, she explained, "Other than being young and female, I didn't feel like I had a lot in common with her. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and Gloria was an Astoria, New York, girl. I was raised devoutly Lutheran, and Gloria had no religion."

The cast of "Alll in the Family:" Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers, Carroll O'Connor, (baby as Joey Stivic) and Jean Stapleton in 1976 | Source: Getty Images

The cast of "Alll in the Family:" Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers, Carroll O'Connor, (baby as Joey Stivic) and Jean Stapleton in 1976 | Source: Getty Images

Her Husband

Struthers' on-screen father, Carroll O'Connor, played a significant role in her personal life. The actress had lost her real dad in 1968, so Carroll and his wife, Nancy, became her surrogate parental figures.

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Carroll gave her advice many times, showed her fatherly affection, and eventually, introduced her to Dr. William Rader, a Los Angeles psychiatrist.

Sally Struthers and her husband William Rader during Iris Awards Banquet on March 4, 1978 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers and her husband William Rader during Iris Awards Banquet on March 4, 1978 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

Her connection with Rader was instant. As she told People, "By the end of our first date, I was madly in love." Struthers even took the initiative in proposing, saying, "Pretty brave of me. I didn't come to him with alimony and three children."

They got married on December 18, 1977, and welcomed their only daughter shortly after. Sadly, the couple divorced in 1983, and Struthers never remarried.

Sally Struthers and her husband William Rader during 1979 Special Olympics at SUNY Brockport Campus in Brockport in New York | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers and her husband William Rader during 1979 Special Olympics at SUNY Brockport Campus in Brockport in New York | Source: Getty Images

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Becoming a Mother

The actress and her then-husband welcomed their daughter, Samantha, in the late 1970s, but motherhood was not initially part of Struthers' plan.

She admitted to People, "Before I met Bill, I never wanted a baby. I was always the first one to say that it wasn't going to make me fulfilled, that I didn't need a carbon copy of myself."

Sally Struthers with her husband, psychiatrist William C Rader and their daughter Samantha, December 1980 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers with her husband, psychiatrist William C Rader and their daughter Samantha, December 1980 | Source: Getty Images

However, love changed her perspective. "Then you fall in love with someone, and you want to be the mother of a child that is part of that man, the result of your loving each other," she added.

Back then, Struthers was being offered a return to the world of "All in the Family," something that didn't seem possible to the actress since she had spent some time searching for other projects.

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Sally Struthers and her daughter Samantha Rader during Young Musicians Foundation Celebrity Mother-Daughter Fashion Show in 1983 in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers and her daughter Samantha Rader during Young Musicians Foundation Celebrity Mother-Daughter Fashion Show in 1983 in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images

In an interview with Leta Powell Drake in 1982, the actress revealed that the first thing she "got going" after the show was becoming a mother.

Drake even commented how Struthers had named her child using the same nickname her mother had always adopted. But the actress said all the nicknames came from love.

Sally Struthers and her daughter Samantha Rader during 6th Annual Celebrity Mother-Daughter Fashion Show in 2010 in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers and her daughter Samantha Rader during 6th Annual Celebrity Mother-Daughter Fashion Show in 2010 in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images

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In the end, she returned to "All in the Family" in a spin-off called "Gloria," which didn't include Robert Reiner and first aired in 1982. It was canceled in 1983 after only one season.

Life after the Show: A Divorcée Working "Nine to Five"

Following her divorce, Struthers continued to work in television as one of the best comedic characters. She joined the cast of "Nine to Five" in 1982 and made guest appearances on shows like "Charles in Charge," "Sister Kate," and "Murder, She Wrote."

Sally Struthers in 1982 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers in 1982 | Source: Getty Images

She also found success in voice acting, lending her distinctive voice to various animated series. Struthers gave life to characters in "Yo Yogi!" in 1991, "Tiny Toon Adventures" in 1990, "TaleSpin" in 1990, and notably, Jim Henson's "Dinosaurs" in 1991, where she played "Charlene Sinclair."

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Sally Struthers during "A World of Imagination" Gala at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in February, 1990  | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers during "A World of Imagination" Gala at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in February, 1990 | Source: Getty Images

Not Afraid to Change Her Looks or Be Serious

In 1992, Struthers appeared in the TV movie "In the Best Interest of the Children," alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, where she showcased her versatility as an actress by taking on a more serious role and a drastic brunette look.

Sally Struthers as Patty Pepper for "In the Best Interest of the Children" in 1992 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers as Patty Pepper for "In the Best Interest of the Children" in 1992 | Source: Getty Images

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But she changed back to her iconic blonde and used her raspy voice in more cartoons throughout the rest of the 1990s. The actress was part of shows like "Droopy, Master Detective," "Duckman," and "The Wild Thornberrys."

Sally Struthers outside Spago Restaurant in California on August 24, 1997 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers outside Spago Restaurant in California on August 24, 1997 | Source: Getty Images

Becoming an Iconic Part of Stars Hollow

The new millennium brought Struthers back to regular on-screen appearances. She had a recurring role as Babette Dell in the beloved series "Gilmore Girls," which originally aired between 2000 and 2007, endearing herself to a new generation of viewers.

The adorably loud and chubby character was brought back for the revival in 2016. But she also had guest appearances and recurring roles on "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," "General Hospital," "The Division," and many others.

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Sally Struthers At Mr. Chows Restaurant in Los Angeles, California on January 3, 2000 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers At Mr. Chows Restaurant in Los Angeles, California on January 3, 2000 | Source: Getty Images

Stage Has Always Been Her Passion

Despite how much she focused on television, Struthers has a unique love for the stage. She toured in productions of "Grease" as Miss Lynch and played Miss Hannigan in "Annie." In 2002, she won a Los Angeles Ovation award for her performance as Agnes Gooch in "Mame."

Sally Struthers stands outside of Mr. Chow's restaurant in Los Angeles, California January 3, 2000  | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers stands outside of Mr. Chow's restaurant in Los Angeles, California January 3, 2000 | Source: Getty Images

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She has also been part of several award shows, special events, and live broadcasts over the years.

In 2005, the actress made a special appearance on stage in L.A. at the Actor's Fund S.T.A.G.E. Too Tribute: Hooray For Love in honor of the music of Harold Arlen.

Sally Struthers performs at the Actor's Fund S.T.A.G.E. Too Tribute: Hooray For Love celebrating the music of Harold Arlen on November 12, 2005 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers performs at the Actor's Fund S.T.A.G.E. Too Tribute: Hooray For Love celebrating the music of Harold Arlen on November 12, 2005 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images

In 2011, she presented an award at the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, and in 2014, she took on the title role in the 50th anniversary production of "Hello, Dolly!"

The rest of the 2010s were marked by musical comedies like "Still Waiting in the Wings," "Christmas Harmony," and "Hollywood Musical!"

Sally Struthers presents during the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards on January 17, 2011 in Thousand Oaks, California | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers presents during the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards on January 17, 2011 in Thousand Oaks, California | Source: Getty Images

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Her Recent Life

Struthers' latest stage appearance was in a "Come Blow Your Horn" production at the New Theatre & Restaurant in Kansas in 2023. She wore a gray wig and showed her new, slimmer figure.

Sally Struthers and her co-start in a production of "Come Blow Your Horn" in 2023 | Source: Facebook/New Theatre & Restaurant

Sally Struthers and her co-start in a production of "Come Blow Your Horn" in 2023 | Source: Facebook/New Theatre & Restaurant

The Australian Interview: Then and Now

In 2023, Struthers sat down with Australian journalist Craig Bennett to recall some of the funniest moments in her life, but Australians love the actress for one curious reason.

Sally Struthers at the premiere of "Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys" on September 8, 2008, in New York City | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers at the premiere of "Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys" on September 8, 2008, in New York City | Source: Getty Images

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Aside from reminiscing about her five-decade-long career on the screen and stage, Bennett brought up the actress's infamous interview from the 1970s.

In 1975, Australian actor and comedian, Garry McDonald adopted his signature persona, a satirical character named Norman Gunston, to interview Struthers in her apartment during his visit to the United States.

The actress had no idea her "interviewer" was acting. She believed he wanted to know more about the success of "All in the Family."

Screenshot of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers where they showed old interview footage from 1975 | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

Screenshot of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers where they showed old interview footage from 1975 | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

When the segment began, Gunston introduced her as an Emmy winner, which he called the "American equivalent of a Logie Award."

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The actress burst into laughter at the name and said it sounded "like a disease." Although she was already famous for a popular sitcom, her humor and giggles endeared her even more to Australian fans.

Screenshot of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers where they showed old interview footage from 1975 | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

Screenshot of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers where they showed old interview footage from 1975 | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

The clip is still talked about today, and Struthers' humor is only one of the many reasons why her career has lasted so long.

She told Bennett that she was fired from "The Tim Conway Comedy Hour" for being a terrible tap dancer. The producers had asked her to move around awkwardly on purpose because making the look "low budget" would serve as the comedic relief.

Screenshot of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers on July 27, 2003  | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

Screenshot of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers on July 27, 2003 | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

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However, the "suits in New York" decided that she was making the show look "cheap," and she was unceremoniously fired. There's a silver lining because Struthers told Bennett that her unemployment was the only reason she got to audition for "All in the Family."

Through everything they discussed, the actress managed to make the interviewer laugh and had the best attitude even when things didn't look great. Fans were quick to praise her in the comments section, calling her just as beautiful as ever.

Screenshot of a user comment on the video of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers  | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

Screenshot of a user comment on the video of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

One fan wrote, "Great interview. Love her laugh and energy. She's a talent, that's for sure."

Screenshot of a user comment on the video of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

Screenshot of a user comment on the video of Craig Bennett's interview with Sally Struthers | Source: Youtube/Studio 10

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Still Rocking and Rolling

In early 2024, the actress joined Robert Reiner at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards for the In Memoriam segment of the broadcast, where they honored producer Normal Lear.

Sally Struthers speaks onstage during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers speaks onstage during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 | Source: Getty Images

It was a serious moment, but both actors took the time to remind the audience that all of them play the roles of real people and how shows like "All in the Family" made audiences laugh, think, and feel for longer than anyone can imagine.

Meanwhile, Struthers most recently voiced the character of Mrs. Polypdopoulos in "Not Quite Narwhal."

Sally Struthers speaks onstage during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 | Source: Getty Images

Sally Struthers speaks onstage during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 | Source: Getty Images

There is no stopping her or the career she built based on humor to get through the wonderful and rollercoaster journey of life.

At 76, she continues to entertain with her candid personality and raspy voice. Her transformation over time is nothing short of delightful and admirable.

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