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Stapleton at the 31st Tony Awards on June 5, 1977
January 19, 1923
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
|Died||May 31, 2013 (aged 90)|
New York City, U.S.
William H. Putch
(m. 1957; died 1983)
|Children||2, including John Putch|
Stapleton was best known for playing Edith Bunker, the perpetually optimistic and devoted wife of Archie Bunker, on the 1970s sitcom All in the Family, 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.
Stapleton was born on January 19, 1923, in Manhattan, the daughter of Marie A. Stapleton, an opera singer, and Joseph E. Murray, a billboard advertising salesman. Her uncle was a vaudevillian performer, and her brother who was a stage actor, inspired her to pursue acting as well.
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).
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, My Three Sons, 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.
Stapleton bested both Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas for the "Best Actress in a Comedy" award on May 9, 1971, which happened to be Mother's Day. 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).
All in the Family (1971-79)
Stapleton's best known role as Edith in All in the Family began in 1971. 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 Stapleton three Emmys and two Golden Globes. She continued the role of Edith in the follow-up series Archie Bunker's Place, but decided to leave the show after appearing in only five episodes; Edith was later killed off.
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. In 1982, Stapleton portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in the TV movie Eleanor, First Lady of the World, 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.
In 1996, Stapleton appeared in the educational series Beakman's World as Beakman's mother, Beakmom, and also appeared on Everybody Loves Raymond playing Ray's imperious aunt. The same year, she appeared in the Murphy Brown episode "All in the Family" playing Miles's grandmother, Nana Silverberg, and also played opposite John Travolta in Nora Ephron's hit film Michael as the eccentric rooming house owner, Pansy Milbank.
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. She voiced John Rolfe's maid, Mrs. Jenkins, in Disney's 1998 direct-to-video animated film Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, 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.
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.
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. 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. Stapleton was active in the Christian Science church. Stapleton was not related to the actress Maureen Stapleton as is commonly believed.
She supported Walter Mondale's campaign in the 1984 presidential election, was a vocal supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, and took an active role in the 1977 National Women's Conference.
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". Stapleton admitted that she seldom watched All in the Family, but by 2000 she reconsidered, she told the Archive of American Television.
Death and reaction
Stapleton died at her home in New York City on May 31, 2013, at age 90.
Norman Lear said, "No one gave more profound 'how to be a human being' lessons than Jean Stapleton." Roseanne Barr said that Stapleton's range was "unbelievable, deep, and majestic." Co-star Rob Reiner said, "Working with her was one of the greatest experiences of my life." 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". Media author Donna McCrohan wrote: "If you never saw [Edith] in action," that "you could read the Sermon on the Mount and know the woman."
|1958||Damn Yankees||Sister Miller||Film debut|
|1960||Bells Are Ringing||Sue|
|1961||Something Wild||Shirley Johnson|
|1967||Up the Down Staircase||Sadie Finch|
|1971||Cold Turkey||Mrs. Wappler|
|1984||The Buddy System||Mrs. Price|
|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|
|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||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|
|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||5 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"|
|2001||Like Mother Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes||Irene Silverman||TV movie|
Final acting role
- "Biography for Jean Stapleton". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- "All About All in the Family". mortystv.com. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
- 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.
- "Women of History: Jean Stapleton". MBE Library. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
- "Jean Stapleton". The Official Masterworks Broadway Site. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
- Michael Karol. Funny Ladies. p. 46.
- "'All In The Family' Star Jean Stapleton Dies At 90". CBS News New York. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- 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.
- Irene Machuca (December 2, 1979). "A Tribute to 'Aunt Mary,'". Victoria Advocate. p. 13.
- Eleanor, First Lady of the World on IMDb
- "All in the Family actress Jean Stapleton dies". BBC News. June 3, 2013.
- Braxton, Greg (June 1, 2013). "Jean Stapleton: Actress who played Edith Bunker was no 'dingbat'". Los Angeles Times.
- Cohen, Aryeh Dean (October 3, 2003). "The Logi-cal choice for concerned parents". The Jerusalem Post. p. 18.
- Silverton, Stephen M. (June 1, 2013). "Jean Stapleton Dies at 90". People. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- Byrge, Duane; Barnes, Mike (June 1, 2013). "'All in the Family' Star Jean Stapleton Dies at 90". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Johnson, Steve (January 26, 1998). ""Style & Substance": Some shows earn a raspberry. This new..." Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- 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.
- Faires, Robert (November 10, 2000). "Image of a First Lady". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
- Laura Fries. "Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes". Variety. Variety Media, LLC. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- "32nd Annual Theatre Hall of Fame Inductees Announced; Mamet, Channing, Grimes Among Names - Playbill.com". Archived from the original on February 10, 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
- "Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- "William H. Putch". The New York Times. November 25, 1983. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- "Jean Stapleton – Forever Grateful, and Back on Stage". totaltheater.com. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- Anderson, Nancy, "Jean Stapleton talks of religion", Daily News, Kingsport, Tennessee (Copley News Service) (September 10, 1974)
- "Mixing politics with show business makes for star wars in Hollywood". UPI.
- "New York State Women's Meeting and the First National Women's Conference". Retrieved September 6, 2020.
- Perigard, Mark. "Jean Stapleton, actress, Archie Bunker's Edith, 90". Boston Herald. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- "JEAN STAPLETON Interview". ACADEMY OF TELEVISION ARTS & SCIENCES FOUNDATION. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- Botelho, Greg (June 1, 2013). "Actress Jean Stapleton, from 'All in the Family,' dies". CNN. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- starpulse.com Archived July 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Donna McCrohan, Archie & Edith, Mike & Gloria New York: Workman Publishing, 1987, 66.
- "Broadway To Dim Its Lights In Honor Of Jean Stapleton". NY1. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- 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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