This month we lost a talented, funny and gracious lady — Jean Stapleton. Stapleton died at 90, a decent age — but I mourn her nonetheless. Remember her? She played Edith Bunker, Charlie Bunker’s long-suffering wife on television’s popular “All in the Family” show which ran from 1971-1979.
At the time, this show dealing with bigotry and racism was a courageous offering, produced by the brilliant Norman Lear. And, it worked so well because Lear was so clever, and Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton were so right for the parts they played. O’Connor was perfect as the cigar-chomping bigot Archie Bunker, and Stapleton did a fabulous job portraying his wife, Edith.
Will we ever have television shows like we used to again? Seems like those intelligent series are a thing of the past, replaced by dull, but less costly, reality shows. And, no, I haven’t yet found one to enjoy….
Back in 1976, I was given an assignment to write an article for Coronet Magazine, (it no longer exists) which they called “Stars Reveal Their Idols!” It was not my choice, but it was what Coronet wanted and I was tickled to get it. I was just starting out, and I would be paid for it.
My favorite writing instructor used to say: “A good writer can write about anything.” So, why not? Besides, I was able to choose which stars to interview, and one of my favorites, of course, was Jean Stapleton.
The lovely lady graciously obliged. This is what she said:
“Lord Lawrence Olivier is the actor I admire as a consummate artist, and I would very much like an opportunity to work with him. His timing is flawless, his sense of character perfect, and his knowledge of his craft is magnificent.
“In history, I most admire Eleanor Roosevelt, whose devotion to human rights and whose personal stamina made her the great lady of the world. She was truly before her time. She was a staunch wife, a great spokeswoman for the women of her time, and a leader among all of the people of the world.”
Who else did I interview for the article? Joan Rivers, Paul Anka, Marie and Donny Osmond (to please my teenaged daughter who liked them so much), Phyllis Diller, Barbra Streisand, Glenn Campbell, Bill Cosby, Kirk Douglas, Micky Dolenz (from the Monkeys, again to impress my daughter) and my own very special favorite, Cary Grant. I’ll tell you more about him later.
Meanwhile, I am truly saddened by the loss of Jean Stapleton. We have lost a great lady indeed.