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Jean Stapleton

Jean Stapleton
Stapleton in 1977
Born Jeanne Murray
(1923-01-19)January 19, 1923
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Died May 31, 2013(2013-05-31) (aged 90)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
Natural causes
Resting place
Occupation Actress
Years active 1941–2001
Spouse(s) William H. Putch
(m. 1956–83; his death)
Children John Putch
Pamela Putch

Jean Stapleton (born Jeanne Murray; January 19, 1923 – May 31, 2013)[1][2] was an American character actress of stage, television and film.

Stapleton is best known for having portrayed Edith Bunker, the long-suffering, yet devoted wife of Archie Bunker (played by Carroll O'Connor) and mother of Gloria Stivic (played by Sally Struthers), on the 1970s sitcom All in the Family.[1] Stapleton also made occasional appearances on the All in the Family follow-up series, Archie Bunker's Place, but, tired of the role, asked to be written out of the show during the first season.[1][3]

Early life and career

Stapleton was born in Manhattan, New York City, the daughter of Marie A. (Stapleton), an opera singer, and Joseph E. Murray, a billboard advertising salesman. At age 18 she began her career in 1941 in summer stock theatre, and made her New York debut in the Off-Broadway play American Gothic.[4][5]

Stapleton was featured on Broadway in several hit musicals, such as Damn Yankees,[6] Funny Girl,[6] Bells Are Ringing,[6] and Juno. She guest starred in many television series, including the role of Rosa Criley in the 1963 episode "The Bride Wore Pink" on NBC's medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour. She recreated her part in the film musical, "Bells Are Ringing (1960).

Stapleton's early work on television included roles in Starlight Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, Lux Video Theater, Woman with a Past, The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Dr. Kildare,[6] My Three Sons,[6] Car 54, Where Are You?,[6] Dennis the Menace, and Naked City. On the episode "The Hidden Jungle" of The Defenders broadcast on December 1, 1962, Jean Stapleton guest-starred as Mrs. Larsen with future television husband Carroll O'Connor.[6]

In 1979 Stapleton appeared in the original Canadian production of the musical Something's Afoot, which was later broadcast on Showtime. In 1982 Stapleton portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in a television production of the First Lady's later life. In 1998, and for a few years afterward, Stapleton took her "Eleanor" characterization to live theaters, now adapted as a one-woman show.[7] She co-starred with Whoopi Goldberg in Bagdad Cafe, the television series based on the movie of the same name and made a guest appearance September 30, 1978, on the sixth episode of the third season of The Muppet Show.

File:All in the family october 27 1973.jpg
Stapleton with Carroll O'Connor (left) and guest star James O'Rear, in a 1973 episode of All in the Family

Stapleton's awards for All in the Family include three Emmys[8] and two Golden Globes.[9] In 1971, she bested both Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas for the Best Actress in a Comedy award on May 9th, which happened to be Mother's Day.[10] She was offered a role in the feature film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as Mrs. Teevee, but she declined because it coincided with the production of the All in the Family pilot (the role went to Nora Denney).[2]

Stapleton appeared in made-for-TV movies and feature films such as Klute, the comedy Cold Turkey (a 1971 Norman Lear film) and the Faerie Tale Theatre episode "Cinderella" as the fairy godmother and as the Giant's Wife in "Jack and the Beanstalk". She also had a recurring role on television's Scarecrow and Mrs. King as a British spy. She appeared in the educational series Beakman's World as Beakman's mother, Beakmom.[11] Stapleton co-starred in 1984's feature film The Buddy System with Susan Sarandon and Richard Dreyfus.

She declined the opportunity to lead in the television mystery programme Murder, She Wrote, which from 1984 to 1996 instead starred Angela Lansbury.[12]

In 1996 Stapleton played opposite John Travolta, portraying the eccentric rooming house owner, Pansy Milbank in Nora Ephron's hit Michael. Stapleton also appeared in the 1998 feature You've Got Mail as a close co-worker in whom Meg Ryan's character confides. On May 14, 2000, in the "Mother's Day" episode of the TV series Touched by an Angel she played an angel named Emma who came to help Celine who was taking care of her late best friend's mother.

In the 1990s 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 on Everybody Loves Raymond playing Ray's imperious aunt.[14] That same year, she also appeared in the Murphy Brown episode "All in the Family" playing Miles's grandmother, Nana Silverberg.[15] 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 26 January 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.[16][17]

Stapleton voiced John Rolfe's maid, Mrs. Jenkins, in Disney's 1998 direct-to-video animated film Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.[18]

File:Jean Stapleton Carroll O'Connor All In the Family.JPG
Stapleton (left) beside Carroll O'Connor on the set of "All in the Family"

Stapleton rarely appeared on talk shows, but she reunited on-camera with 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 show's hosts asked her to perform in Edith Bunker's voice, she jokingly told them that she only does so "for pay".[19]

Stapleton seldom watched All In the Family, but by 2000 she reconsidered, she said to the Archive of American Television.[12]

A 2001 made-for-TV movie, Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes, starred Mary Tyler Moore as Sante Kimes, Gabriel Olds as Kenny, and Jean Stapleton as Silverman.

In 2002, Jean Stapleton was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[20] She was also inducted into the Television Hall of Fame that same year.

Personal life

For 30 years, Stapleton's husband William Putch (1924–83) 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. Together they had two children: actor/writer/director John Putch and television producer Pamela Putch.[21]

Stapleton's brother, Jack Stapleton, was a stage actor. Her cousin is actress Betty Jane Watson.[22] Stapleton was active in the Christian Science church.[23][24]

Jean was not, as commonly believed, related patrilineally to the actress Maureen Stapleton.[6] Genealogists have determined that the two were fourth cousins through Jean's maternal grandmother and Maureen's paternal grandmother.[25]

Death and reaction

Stapleton died, surrounded by family and friends, on May 31, 2013, in New York City, of natural causes.[26] She was 90 and is survived by her two children, John, a TV director, and Pamela, a TV producer.[27]

Norman Lear said, "No one gave more profound 'how to be a human being' lessons than Jean Stapleton."[28] Fellow US sitcom actress Roseanne Barr said that Stapleton's range was "unbelievable, deep and majestic."[28] Co-star and BAFTA- and Oscar-nominated director and producer Rob Reiner said, "Working with her was one of the greatest experiences of my life."[28] 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".[29]

The marquee lights on Broadway were dimmed for one minute on June 5, 2013 at 8 p.m. EDT to honor the memory of Stapleton.[30]


  1. ^ a b c "Biography for Jean Stapleton". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Michael Karol. Funny Ladies. p. 46. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Goodwin, Betty (January 5, 1986). "Jean Stapleton: 'Stardom isn't a Goal'". New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h 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. 
  7. ^ Faires, Robert (November 10, 2000). "Image of a First Lady". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  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. ^ "14 Mind-Blowing Facts from Mother's Day History". Retrieved 2015-05-05. 
  11. ^ Cohen, Aryeh Dean (October 3, 2003). "The Logi-cal choice for concerned parents". The Jerusalem Post. p. 18. 
  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. ^ Silverton, Stephen M. (June 1, 2013). "Jean Stapleton Dies at 90". People. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ Byrge, Duane; Barnes, Mike (June 1, 2013). "'All in the Family' Star Jean Stapleton Dies at 90". Hollywood Reporter. 
  16. ^ Johnson, Steve (26 January 1998). ""Style & Substance": Some shows earn a raspberry. This new...". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  17. ^ ""Style & Substance" A Recipe for Disaster (TV episode 1998)" at the Internet Movie Database
  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. ^ Perigard, Mark. "Jean Stapleton, actress, Archie Bunker’s Edith, 90". Boston Herald. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "William H. Putch". The New York Times. November 25, 1983. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Jean Stapleton – Forever Grateful, and Back on Stage". Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  23. ^ Unger, Arthur (December 11, 1981). "Jean Stapleton: a life after Edith Bunker". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  24. ^ Anderson, Nancy, "Jean Stapleton talks of religion", Daily News, Kingsport, Tennessee (Copley News Service) (September 10, 1974)
  25. ^ Stapleton, Maureen. A Hell of a Life. Simon & Schuster, 1995
  26. ^ "Jean Stapleton, best known for playing Edith Bunker in 'All in the Family,' dies at 90". Fox News. Associated Press. June 1, 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  27. ^ Luther, Claudia (June 1, 2013). "'All in the Family' star Jean Stapleton dies at 90". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b c Botelho, Greg (June 1, 2013). "Actress Jean Stapleton, from 'All in the Family,' dies". CNN. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Broadway To Dim Its Lights In Honor Of Jean Stapleton". NY1. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 

External links

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