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Jean Stapleton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jean Stapleton
Stapleton at the 31st Tony Awards on June 5, 1977
Jeanne Murray

(1923-01-19)January 19, 1923
New York City, U.S.
DiedMay 31, 2013(2013-05-31) (aged 90)
New York City, U.S.
Years active1941–2001
William H. Putch
(m. 1957; died 1983)
Children2, including John Putch

Jean Stapleton (born Jeanne Murray; January 19, 1923 – May 31, 2013) was an American character actress of stage, television and film. Stapleton portrayed Edith Bunker, the perpetually optimistic and devoted wife of Archie Bunker, on the 1970s sitcom All in the Family,[1] a role that earned her three Emmys and two Golden Globes for Best Actress in a comedy series. She also made occasional appearances on the All in the Family follow-up series Archie Bunker's Place, but asked to be written out of the show during the first season due to becoming tired of the role.[1][2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Jean Stapleton Wins Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy | Emmys Archive (1978)
  • Jean Stapleton discusses Edith's death on "Archie Bunker's Place" - EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG
  • Jean Stapleton Wins Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series | Emmys Archive (1972)
  • Jean Stapleton (Iconic Stage, TV, Film Actor) In Loving memory
  • Jean Stapleton discusses Edith Bunker on "All in the Family" - EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG


Early life

Stapleton was born on January 19, 1923,[3] in Manhattan, the daughter of Marie A. Stapleton, an opera singer, and Joseph E. Murray, a billboard advertising salesman.[4] She had an elder brother, Jack.[3] Her uncle was a vaudevillian performer, and her brother was a stage actor who inspired her to pursue acting as well.[5]

Early career

Stapleton began her career in 1941 aged 18 in summer stock theatre and made her New York debut in the Off-Broadway play American Gothic. She was featured on Broadway in several hit musicals, such as Funny Girl, Juno, Damn Yankees and Bells Are Ringing, recreating her parts from the latter two musicals in the film versions of Damn Yankees (1958) (her film debut) and Bells Are Ringing (1960).[6]

Stapleton's early television roles included parts in Starlight Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, Lux Video Theater, Woman with a Past, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, The Patty Duke Show, Dr. Kildare,[4] My Three Sons,[4] Dennis the Menace, Naked City, and as Rosa Criley in a 1963 episode of NBC's medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour, entitled "The Bride Wore Pink". In 1962, Stapleton guest-starred as Mrs. Larsen in "The Hidden Jungle", an episode of the TV series The Defenders (broadcast on December 1 that year), alongside her future All in the Family co-star Carroll O'Connor.[4]

Stapleton also appeared in the feature films Something Wild (1961), Up the Down Staircase (1967), Klute (1971) and the Norman Lear comedy Cold Turkey (also 1971).

Stapleton bested both Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas for the "Best Actress in a Comedy" Primetime Emmy award on May 9, 1971. She was offered a role in the feature film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) as Mrs. Teevee, but declined because it coincided with the production of the All in the Family pilot (the role went to Nora Denney).[7]

All in the Family (1971–1979)

Stapleton's best known role, as Edith in All in the Family, began in 1971.[6] The show was originally broadcast on the CBS network for nine seasons from January 12, 1971, to April 8, 1979, for a total of 205 episodes. The role earned her three Emmys[8] and two Golden Globes.[9]

Stapleton (left) beside Carroll O'Connor on the set of All in the Family

Feeling her character had run its course, Stapleton continued the role of Edith for only five more episodes in the follow-up series Archie Bunker's Place to help the transition, and then Edith was written out via stroke, offscreen, in the first episode of season two.[6]

Later career

Stapleton appeared in the Emmy Award-winning TV movie Tail Gunner Joe (1977), dramatizing the life of U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, and later guest-starred in the sixth episode of the third season of The Muppet Show (broadcast on September 30, 1978).

In 1979, she featured in the original Canadian production of the musical Something's Afoot, which was later broadcast on Showtime. She played the title role in the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie, Aunt Mary (also 1979), which detailed the true story of Baltimore children's advocate Mary Dobkin.[10] In 1982, Stapleton portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in the TV movie Eleanor, First Lady of the World,[11] focusing on the subject's later life. The role earned her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress.

She continued to guest-star in a number of television series during the 1980s including two episodes of Faerie Tale Theatre — in 1983 and 1985 editions entitled "Jack and the Beanstalk" as the Giant's Wife and "Cinderella" as the Fairy Godmother — Scarecrow and Mrs. King and The Love Boat. Stapleton also co-starred in the film The Buddy System (1984), alongside Susan Sarandon and Richard Dreyfuss, and played Ariadne Oliver in the 1986 television adaptation of Dead Man's Folly, opposite Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot. She declined the role of Jessica Fletcher in the TV series Murder, She Wrote, which went to Angela Lansbury.[12]

From 1990 to 1991, Stapleton co-starred with Whoopi Goldberg in 15 episodes of Bagdad Cafe,[6] the television series based on the movie of the same name.

In 1994, Stapleton played the role of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle in a children's series of the same name based on the books by Betty MacDonald.[13]

In 1996, Stapleton appeared in the educational series Beakman's World as Beakman's mother, Beakmom,[14] and also appeared on Everybody Loves Raymond playing Ray's imperious aunt.[15] The same year, she appeared in the Murphy Brown episode "All in the Family" playing Miles's grandmother, Nana Silverberg,[16] and also played opposite John Travolta in Nora Ephron's hit film Michael as the eccentric rooming house owner, Pansy Milbank.[6]

Making a debut in the world of video games, Stapleton was the voice of Grandma Ollie on KinderActive, Turner Pictures, and New Line Cinema's venture Grandma Ollie's Morphabet Soup. The game won a Teacher's Choice Award from Learning Magazine.

On January 26, 1998, Stapleton guest-starred on the Jean Smart sitcom Style & Substance in the episode "A Recipe for Disaster", playing a former television chef who has an alcohol problem.[17] She voiced John Rolfe's maid, Mrs. Jenkins, in Disney's 1998 direct-to-video animated film Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World,[18] and appeared in the film You've Got Mail as a close co-worker in whom Meg Ryan's character confides. From 1998, Stapleton took her "Eleanor" characterization to live theaters, now adapted as a one-woman show.[19]

In May 2000, Stapleton appeared in "Mother's Day", an episode of the TV series Touched by an Angel, portraying an angel named Emma who came to help Celine who was taking care of her late best friend's mother.

Stapleton's final acting role was as Irene Silverman in the 2001 fact-based TV movie, Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes, starring Mary Tyler Moore as convicted criminal Sante Kimes.[20]

Stapleton was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2002.[21] She was also inducted into the Television Hall of Fame that same year.[22]

Personal life

Stapleton was married to William Putch from 1957 until his death in 1983. The couple had two children: actor/writer/director John Putch and television producer Pamela Putch.[23] For 30 years, William Putch directed a summer stock theater, Totem Pole Playhouse, at Caledonia State Park in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. Stapleton performed regularly at the theatre with the resident company. Stapleton's brother, Jack Stapleton, was a stage actor. Her cousin was actress Betty Jane Watson.[24] Stapleton was active in the Christian Science church.[25] She was unrelated to actress Maureen Stapleton, contrary to a common misconception.[4]

Stapleton supported Walter Mondale's campaign in the 1984 presidential election,[26] was a vocal supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, and took an active role in the 1977 National Women's Conference.[27]

Stapleton rarely appeared on talk shows, but reunited on-camera with Carroll O'Connor on Donny and Marie Osmond's show on April 24, 2000, a little over a year before O'Connor's death. When the Osmonds asked her to perform in Edith Bunker's voice, she jokingly told them that she only does so "for pay".[28] Stapleton admitted that she seldom watched All in the Family, but by 2000 she reconsidered,[29] she told the Archive of American Television.[12]

Death and reaction

Stapleton died at her apartment in Manhattan on May 31, 2013, at age 90.[4]

Norman Lear said, "No one gave more profound 'how to be a human being' lessons than Jean Stapleton."[30] Roseanne Barr said that Stapleton's range was "unbelievable, deep, and majestic."[30] Co-star Rob Reiner said, "Working with her was one of the greatest experiences of my life."[30] Sally Struthers said, "Jean lived so in the present. She was a Christian Scientist who didn't say or think a negative thing ... She was just a walking, living angel".[31]

The marquee lights on Broadway were dimmed for two minutes on June 5, 2013, at 8 p.m. EDT, to honor the memory of Stapleton.[32] She is buried at Lincoln Cemetery in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.[33]



Year Title Role Notes
1958 Damn Yankees Sister Miller Film debut; recreating Broadway role
1960 Bells Are Ringing Sue
1961 Something Wild Shirley Johnson
1967 Up the Down Staircase Sadie Finch
1971 Cold Turkey Mrs. Wappler
1971 Klute Goldfarb's Secretary
1984 The Buddy System Mrs. Price
1993 The Trial Landlady Uncredited
1996 Michael Pansy Milbank
1998 Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World Mrs. Jenkins (voice) Direct-to-video
1998 You've Got Mail Birdie Conrad
2001 Pursuit of Happiness Lorraine Final film role


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Starlight Theatre Woman Episode: "The Come-Back"
1952 Robert Montgomery Presents Episode: "Storm"
1953 Lux Video Theatre Teacher Episode: "A Time for Heroes"
1954-1956 Omnibus 2 episodes
1954 Woman with a Past Gwen TV series
1955 Repertory Theatre Bus Girl Episode: "A Business Proposition"
1960 The Robert Herridge Theater Episode: "The End of the Beginning"
1961-1963 Naked City Various 3 episodes
1961 Dr. Kildare Nurse Whitney Episode: "The Patient"
1962 Dennis the Menace Mrs. Flora Davis Episode: "Mr. Wilson's Housekeeper"
1962 The Nurses Mrs. Montgomery Episode: "The Barbara Bowers Story"
1962 Jackie Gleason: American Scene Magazine Nagging Wife Episode: #1.5
1962 The Defenders Mrs. Larsen Episode: "The Hidden Jungle"
1962 Car 54, Where Are You? Mrs. Duggan (uncredited) Episode: "Je T'Adore Muldoon"
1963 The Eleventh Hour Rosa Criley Episode: "The Bride Wore Pink"
1963 Route 66 Mrs. Snyder Episode: "93 Percent in Smiling"
1964 My Three Sons Molly Dunbar Episode: "The People's House"
1965 The Patty Duke Show Mrs. Pollack Episode: "The Raffle"
1971-1979 All in the Family Edith Bunker 205 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1971-1972, 1978)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1973-1974)
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1973-1975, 1977, 1979)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1972, 1975, 1978–1980)
1973 Acts of Love and Other Comedies Gina's Mother TV movie
1977 Tail Gunner Joe Mrs. DeCamp TV movie
1978 The Muppet Show Herself 1 episode
1979 You Can't Take it With You Penny Sycamore TV movie
1979 Aunt Mary Mary Dobkin TV movie
1979 Archie Bunker's Place Edith Bunker 5 episodes
1981 Angel Dusted Betty Eaton TV movie
1981 Captain Kangaroo Freddie's Mom Episode: "The Captain Kangaroo's 25th Anniversary Special"
1981 Isabel's Choice Isabel Cooper TV movie
1982 Eleanor, First Lady of the World Eleanor Roosevelt TV movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1982 Something's Afoot Miss Tweed TV movie
1983-1985 Faerie Tale Theatre Various 2 episodes
1984 A Matter of Sex Irene TV movie
1984 Scarecrow and Mrs. King Lady Emily Farnsworth 2 episodes
1985 Great Performances Helen Episode: "Grown-Ups"
1986 Dead Man's Folly Ariadne Oliver TV movie
1986 The Love Boat Helen Branigan 2 episodes
1987 Tender Places Sam TV movie
1989 Trying Times Edna Episode: "The Boss"
1990 The American Playwrights Theater: The One Acts Helen Episode: "Let Me Hear You Whisper"
1990 Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme Mother Goose TV movie
1990-1991 Bagdad Cafe Jasmine Zweibel 15 episodes
1991 Fire in the Dark Henny TV movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1992 Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories Narrator (voice) Episode: "Elizabeth and Larry/Bill and Pete"
1992 The Habitation of Dragons Lenora Tolliver TV movie
1992 The Ray Bradbury Theater Grandma Episode: "Fee Fie Foe Fum"
1993 General Motors Playwrights Theater Emilie Episode: "The Parallax Garden"
1993 Ghost Mom Mildred TV movie
1994 Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle 13 episodes
1994 Grace Under Fire Aunt Vivian Episode: "The Road to Paris, Texas"
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
1995 Caroline in the City Aunt Mary Kosky Episode: "Caroline and the Opera"
1996 Murphy Brown Nana Silverberg Episode: "All in the Family"
1996 Lily Dale Mrs. Coons TV movie
1996 Everybody Loves Raymond Aunt Alda Episode: "I Wish I Were Gus"
1996 Beakman's World Beakman's Mom Episode: "Elephants, Beakmania and X-Rays"
1996 1914-1918 Edith Wilson (voice) TV miniseries documentary: "War Without End"
1998 Style & Substance Gloria Episode: "A Recipe for Disaster"
1998 Chance of a Lifetime Mrs. Dunbar TV movie
2000 Touched by an Angel Emma Episode: "Mother's Day"
2000 Baby Byrd TV movie
2001 Like Mother Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes Irene Silverman TV movie
Final acting role


  1. ^ a b "Biography for Jean Stapleton". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  2. ^ "All About All in the Family". Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (June 1, 2013). "Jean Stapleton, Who Played Archie Bunker's Better Angel, Dies at 90". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Weber, Bruce (June 1, 2013). "Jean Stapleton, Who Played Archie Bunker's Better Angel, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  5. ^ "Women of History: Jean Stapleton". MBE Library. November 3, 2019. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Jean Stapleton". The Official Masterworks Broadway Site. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  7. ^ Karol, Michael. Funny Ladies. p. 46.
  8. ^ "'All In The Family' Star Jean Stapleton Dies At 90". CBS News New York. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  9. ^ Eby, Margaret (June 1, 2013). "Jean Stapleton, Edith Bunker of 'All in the Family', dies at 90". Daily News. New York. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  10. ^ Machuca, Irene (December 2, 1979). "A Tribute to 'Aunt Mary,'". Victoria Advocate. p. 13.
  11. ^ Eleanor, First Lady of the World at IMDb
  12. ^ a b "All in the Family actress Jean Stapleton dies". BBC News. June 3, 2013.
  13. ^ Braxton, Greg (June 1, 2013). "Jean Stapleton: Actress who played Edith Bunker was no 'dingbat'". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ Cohen, Aryeh Dean (October 3, 2003). "The Logi-cal choice for concerned parents". The Jerusalem Post. p. 18.
  15. ^ Silverton, Stephen M. (June 1, 2013). "Jean Stapleton Dies at 90". People. Archived from the original on June 8, 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  16. ^ Byrge, Duane; Barnes, Mike (June 1, 2013). "'All in the Family' Star Jean Stapleton Dies at 90". The Hollywood Reporter.
  17. ^ Johnson, Steve (January 26, 1998). ""Style & Substance": Some shows earn a raspberry. This new..." Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  18. ^ King, Susan (August 20, 1998). "Pocahontas, Re-Revisited: A direct-to-video sequel from Disney continues the story of the Native American heroine". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  19. ^ Faires, Robert (November 10, 2000). "Image of a First Lady". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  20. ^ Fries, Laura (May 16, 2001). "Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes". Variety. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  21. ^ "32nd Annual Theatre Hall of Fame Inductees Announced; Mamet, Channing, Grimes Among Names -". Archived from the original on February 26, 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  22. ^ "Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  23. ^ "William H. Putch". The New York Times. November 25, 1983. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  24. ^ "Jean Stapleton – Forever Grateful, and Back on Stage". Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  25. ^ Anderson, Nancy (September 10, 1974). "Jean Stapleton Talks Religion". The Desert Sun. Copley News Service. Retrieved February 26, 2022 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  26. ^ "Mixing politics with show business makes for star wars in Hollywood". UPI.
  27. ^ "New York State Women's Meeting and the First National Women's Conference". Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  28. ^ Perigard, Mark. "Jean Stapleton, actress, Archie Bunker's Edith, 90". Boston Herald. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  29. ^ "Jean Stapleton Interview". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. October 22, 2017. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  30. ^ a b c Botelho, Greg (June 1, 2013). "Actress Jean Stapleton, from 'All in the Family,' dies". CNN. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  31. ^ Archived July 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "Broadway To Dim Its Lights In Honor Of Jean Stapleton". NY1. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  33. ^ Benoit, Tod (March 26, 2019). Where Are They Buried?: How Did They Die? Fitting Ends and Final Resting Places of the Famous, Infamous, and Noteworthy. Running Press. ISBN 9780762466801 – via Google Books.

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