SUPPORTING GREAT TELEVISION

Archie Bunker, Unstifled: All in the Family Debuts

In Flashbacks on January 12, 2011 at 12:00 am

Archie (Carroll O’Connor) in “Meet the Bunkers,” the first episode of “All in the Family.” (Screen cap)

On January 12, 1971, CBS’s All in the Family debuted.

The sitcom was about lovable blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) and his family – patient wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), spirited daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers) and liberal son-in-law Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner).

The series, which was based on a British comedy and developed by Norman Lear, broke ground through its blunt depiction of racism, sexuality and other topics that were previously considered taboo for American television.

All in the Family spawned several spinoffs during its acclaimed nine-season run and produced some of television’s most iconic moments, including a 1977 episode in which Edith was almost raped.

In 1994, CBS and O’Connor wanted to revive Archie in a series of specials that would’ve found him running a car service in Manhattan, but Lear declined to give his blessing.

See for yourself: All in the Family’s first eight seasons are on DVD.

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