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The Scene That Took All in the Family Off the Air for Good

All in the Family one of the most watched shows on TV back during it’s initial run. Not only was it popular with audiences, but it was also culturally significant. While shows like I Love Lucy might have changed the way we watched television; All in the Family was a trailblazer in the way that it pushed the envelope of what acceptable to air on network shows.

A series that dealt with subject material that audiences not used to seeing. It held a metaphorical mirror up to some of the most unattractive parts of society and allowed us to have a laugh about them. For example, Archie Bunker could be one close-minded bigot at times. But that same less-than-flattering mentality turned him in the butt of countless jokes.

The sitcom, which premiered on CBS on January 12, 1971, forever changed the world of television for the better. It was one of the first shows that attempted to face the cultural upheaval of the late-60s and early 70s head on. Before it debuted, there’s an enormously obvious gap between what’s going on in the real world; and what being shown to audiences on their TV screens.

All in the Family wasn’t afraid to tackle hot-button topics such as racism, homosexuality, economic disparity, war, drugs, and even abortion. Previously, so match as even hinting at some of these topics on primetime TV considered to be unthinkable. Think about it, the network brass wouldn’t even let the writers of I Love Lucy use the word pregnant when the Ricardo’s found out that they were expecting back in 1952.

A lot has changed in the world of television in the last half-century or so. And while it might not have been the greatest sitcom to ever hit the airwaves. All in the Family was certainly one that made a significant on the world at large.

Despite it’s immense popularity and critical acclaim; just like everything else in life, All in the Fame eventually came to an end. After nine seasons consisting of 205 half-hour episodes, All in the Family aired it’s series finale in 1979. In this fact-packed video, we’ll be discussing the scene that took the beloved program off the air for good. So, get ready for a hearty dose of tasty 1970s nostalgia because this is one video that fans of All in the Family won’t want to miss.

Before we address the series’ graceful goodbye, let’s first take a look back at some of the key moments of the show that led up to it’s inevitable end.

Jean Stapleton’s Departure

Even though she’s a fan-favorite, there’s a very good reason why Jean Stapleton, the actress who played Archie’s naive yet affable wife, Edith Bunker, was killed of the groundbreaking sitcom’s spin-off series.

By 1979, the year that All in the Family was given the ax of cancellation; Edith given less and less screen time. Stapleton had become concerned about being typecast in submissive roles; so she made the move to start guest-starring on All in the Family instead of being a regular cast member.

In the final season of the sitcom, Edith had only made four appearances. Norman Lear, the show’s creator, eventually decided to kill Edith off. Following her departure, she went on to appear in offerings such as Everybody Loves Raymond, Murphy Brown, and You’ve Got Mail. She would even take a stab as a voice actress working in the field of video games.

Her final credit was portraying the character Irene Silverman in the 2001 ‘based on a true story’ television film Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes, acting alongside another television legend, Mary Tyler Moore.

Stapleton passed away at her apartment in Manhattan, New York; on the 31st of May 2013 at the age of 90.

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Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers Likewise Left The Program Early

After eight seasons of portraying the characters Gloria Stivic and Mike Stivic aka ‘Meathead’, Struthers and Reiner decided to take their exits so that they could move on to pursue other projects.

In an interview with TV Guide several years ago; Sally said that Reiner and her had left the show because they had ‘other fish’ that they ‘wanted to fry’.

Before she left, Struthers recalled that she told Jean Stapleton that she hoped that she wasn’t making the biggest mistake of her life.

Stapleton replied by saying that since Sally got her start in theater. it didn’t matter what happened in the world of TV and film, because the stage would always welcome her back with open arms because it was, as she put it, her home.

Ironically, Struthers revealed in that interview that she was doing theater when she received the news that Stapleton had passed away.

After Reiner and Struthers left the series, the producers called in child actress Danielle Brisebois to join the cast. Brisebois played the character Stephanie Mills on both All in the Family and it’s followed-up spin-off.

She would eventually leave the acting world to focus instead on a musical career. Notably, Brisebois was one of the two permanent founding members of the alternative rock band New Radicals, best known for their debut hit single ‘You Get What You Give’.

All In The Family’s Classy Conclusion

It might be a bit cliché at this point, but all good things inevitably must come to an end. On the Evening of April 8, 1979 fans of the CBS series tuned in to watch what would be the series finale of All In The Family.

When the show debuted in 1971, eight years prior, no one realized how big of an impact the show would end up making. At the time, primetime television dominated by entertaining but by all accounts shallow shows like Hawaii Five-O and The Partridge Family.

CBS not convinced that a comedy that tackled touchy issues like race, sexual assault, and menopause would well received. They even felt the need to slap a disclaimer on the first episode that informed the audience that show was seeking to ‘throw a humorous spotlight’ on then–modern issues, concerns, and frailties.

Unlike other shows like MAS*H and Seinfeld, which had hyped-up endings that made headlines and broke records for viewership; the last episode of All In The Family ended on a fittingly classy, albeit understated, note.

The finale involved a fairly simple yet remarkably poignant storyline in which Edith made one last guest appearance on the series to help Archie prepare for a party at his pub. At the end of the episode, the typically emotionally reserved character that Carroll O’ Connor became world-famous for playing; shared a rare moment of warm and loving tenderness with his wife after he learned of the sacrifices that she had made on his behalf.

It didn’t go out with a bang; there was no media frenzy surrounding the series end. But perhaps that’s what made All in the Family’s final episode so great.

An End Of An Era

The final episode entitled ‘Too Good Edith’. In it, Edith faced with a major health concern. She suffered from a severe case of phlebitis – a medical condition where potentially life-threatening blood clots form in one’s legs.

Edith hid this condition from Archie so as not to frighten him. While keeping this secret to herself, Edith actively helped prepare a St. Patrick’s Day dinner at Archie’s tavern. Shortly before she finished prepping the meal; she finally admitted to Archie that she couldn’t be up on her feet any longer. The pain was simply too much for her to bear.

After calling the doctor, Archie took to scolding Edith for hiding her acute condition from him. He told her that she had to tell him whenever she wasn’t feeling fell. In a vulnerable, yet sincere moment, Archie expressed his fear of losing her. He then told her that without her, he was nothing.

For the duration of the show, Archie never meant to be funny. Sure, he was the butt of the joke more times than not, but he wasn’t a comedian. Instead it was his wife Edith who consistently served as his comedic foil. Because of this dynamic, the couple’s interaction brought a significant chunk of comedy to the iconic sitcom.

Archie Bunker’s Place

A few months after All In The Family wrapped up; a spin-off series entitled Archie Bunker’s Place debuted on September 23, 1979. While it wasn’t quite as popular at it’s predecessor , the series still managed to garner a sizable enough audience to be renewed for four seasons.

Jean Stapleton reprised her role as Edith for this series, but she only appeared five times during the first season. The following year, Archie finally forced to face his biggest fear when Edith died and written of the series.

Her death addressed in the second season premiere. It explained that she had died of a stroke. Archie reasonably devastated by her passing, but eventually, he regained his emotional strength and started dating again.

Archie Bunker’s Place’s series finale aired on the evening of April 4, 1983. In that final episode, Archie makes his final appearance while sitting at the bar with long-time patron Mr. Van Ranseleer and bartender Harry Snowden.

In that scene, Archie recounted a dream that he had recently had.

In it, he apparently called into the Oval office by then-president Ronald Reagan. And shared an exchange about El Salvador being potentialy made into the 49th state. Archie then told Van Ransaleer that the dream ended when he woke up after hearing a toilet flush.

What are your thoughts on the ending of All In The Family? Let us know in the comments.

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