Sunday, June 02, 2013
RIP Jean Stapleton
So why did we accept Archie Bunker?
Archie called her a dingbat but as I’ve said many times in this blog, it takes great smarts to play dumb. Look at Gracie Allen and Judy Holliday. Both made careers playing dumb and both had IQ’s off the charts. Jean Stapleton was as sharp as they came. Her comic timing and delivery was impeccable. And she was such an accomplished actress that she could still sell the emotion and make it real. She could make you laugh and pull at your heartstrings – all at the same time. That’s a remarkable accomplishment. The greatest writer in the world can’t make that happen unless the actor can. Jean Stapleton was a treasure. We laughed at Archie and tolerated Archie but we adored Edith.
And Edith Bunker was but one of her many roles in an illustrious career that began when she was only 18. So many memorable performances. Her portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt was bravura, and could there be two more divergent characters than Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Bunker?
I never had the pleasure of meeting her. I have no personal recollections. She was always highly regarded, and (from what I understand) a dream to work with. She won three Emmys and numerous other awards. She was recognized in her time. But I don’t think she’ll be fully appreciated for what she did. She alone was the key to the success of ALL IN THE FAMILY.
RIP Jean Stapleton. You will never be stifled in our hearts.