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|All in the Family|
The title screen as seen in the opening credits
|Created by||Norman Lear (based on Till Death Us Do Part, created by Johnny Speight)|
|Theme music composer||Lee Adams
|Opening theme||"Those Were the Days"
Performed by Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton
|Ending theme||"Remembering You"
by Roger Kellaway and Carroll O'Connor (instrumental version)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||208 (List of episodes)|
|Location(s)||CBS Television City
Hollywood, California (1971-1975)
Hollywood, California (1975-1979)
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Tandem Productions|
|Distributor||Viacom Enterprises (1976-1991)
Columbia Pictures Television (1991-1996)
Columbia TriStar Television (1996-2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002-present)
|Original run||January 12, 1971– April 8, 1979|
|Followed by||Archie Bunker's Place|
All in the Family is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network from January 12, 1971, to April 8, 1979. In September 1979, a new show, Archie Bunker's Place, picked up where All in the Family had ended. This sitcom lasted another four years, ending its run in 1983.
Produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, it is based on the British television comedy series Till Death Us Do Part. Despite being considerably softer in its approach than its BBC predecessor, the show broke ground in its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for U.S. network television comedy, such as racism, homosexuality, women's liberation, rape, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence.
The show ranked number-one in the yearly Nielsen ratings from 1971 to 1976. It became the first television series to reach the milestone of having topped the Nielsen ratings for five consecutive years, a mark later matched by The Cosby Show and surpassed by American Idol, which notched its eighth consecutive year at #1 in 2012 and whose streak is still ongoing. The episode "Sammy's Visit" was ranked #13 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time ranked All in the Family as #4. Bravo also named the show's protagonist, Archie Bunker, TV's greatest character of all time.
The comedy revolves around Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), a working-class World War II veteran. He is a very outspoken bigot, seemingly prejudiced against everyone who is not a U.S.-born, politically conservative, heterosexual White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male, and dismissive of anyone not in agreement with his view of the world. His ignorance and stubbornness tend to cause his malapropism-filled arguments to self-destruct. He often responds to uncomfortable truths by blowing a raspberry. He longs for simpler times when people sharing his viewpoint were in charge, as evidenced by the nostalgic theme song "Those Were the Days", the show's original title.
By contrast, his wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) is a sweet and understanding, if somewhat naïve, woman. She usually defers to her husband. On the rare occasions when Edith takes a stand she proves to be one of the wisest characters, as evidenced in the episodes "The Battle of the Month" and "The Games Bunkers Play". Archie often tells her to "stifle" herself and calls her a "dingbat". Despite their different personalities they love each other deeply.
They have one child, Gloria (Sally Struthers), who is married to college student Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner). "Michael" is referred to as "Meathead" by Archie and "Mike" by nearly everyone else. Mike is a bit of a hippie, and his morality is informed by the counterculture of the 1960s. He and Archie represent the real-life clash between two generations. They constantly clash over religious, political, social, and personal issues. For much of the series, the Stivics live in the Bunkers' home to save money, providing even more opportunity for the two men to irritate each other. When Mike finally finishes graduate school and the Stivics move out, it turns out to be to the house next door. The house was offered to them by George Jefferson, the Bunkers' former neighbor, who knows it will irritate Archie. In addition to calling him "Meathead", Archie also frequently cites Mike's Polish ancestry, referring to him as a "dumb Polack".
The show is set in the Astoria section of Queens, one of New York City's five boroughs, with the vast majority of scenes taking place in the Bunkers' home (and later, frequently, the Stivics' home). Occasional scenes take place in other locations, most often (especially during later seasons) Kelcy's Bar, a neighborhood tavern where Archie spends a good deal of time and which he eventually buys.
|This unreferenced section requires citations to ensure verifiability.|
A number of actors played multiple roles during the show's run:
Lear bought the rights to Till Death Us Do Part and incorporated his own family experiences with his father into the show. Lear's father would tell Lear's mother to "stifle herself" and she would tell Lear's father "you are the laziest white man I ever saw" (two "Archieisms" that found their way onto the show). Three different pilots were shot for the series. Justice For All (1968) was shot in New York, and named in reference to Archie's family name (later changed to Bunker), while Those Were The Days (1969) was made in Hollywood. Different actors played the roles of Mike, Gloria, and Lionel in the first two.
After stations' and viewers' complaints caused ABC to cancel Turn-On after only one episode in February 1969, the network became uneasy about airing a show with a "foul-mouthed, bigoted lead" character, and rejected the series at about the time Richard Dreyfuss sought the role of Michael. Rival network CBS was eager to update its image, and was looking to replace much of its then popular "rural" programming (Mayberry R.F.D., The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres) with more "urban", contemporary series, and was interested in Lear's project. They bought the rights from ABC and retitled the show All in the Family.
Lear initially wanted to shoot in black and white. While CBS insisted on color, Lear had the set furnished in rather neutral tones, keeping everything relatively devoid of color.
All in the Family was the first major American series to be videotaped in front of a live studio audience. In the 1960s, most sitcoms had been filmed in the single-camera format without audiences, with a laugh track simulating audience response. Lear employed the Multi-camera format of shooting in front of an audience, but used tape, whereas previous multi-camera shows like Mary Tyler Moore had used film. Thanks to the success of All in the Family, videotaping sitcoms in front of an audience became common format for the genre during the 1970s. The use of videotape also gave All in the Family the look and feel of early live television, including the original live broadcasts of The Honeymooners, to which All in the Family is sometimes compared.
For the show's final season, the practice of being taped before a live audience changed to playing the already taped and edited show to an audience and recording their laughter to add to the original sound track. Thus, the voice-over during the end credits was changed from Rob Reiner's "All in the Family was recorded on tape before a live audience" to Carroll O'Connor's "All in the Family was played to a studio audience for live responses". (Typically, the audience would be gathered for a taping of One Day at a Time, and get to see All In the Family as a bonus.) Throughout its run, Norman Lear took pride in the fact that canned laughter was never used (mentioning this on many occasions); the laughter heard in the episodes was genuine.
The series' opening theme song "Those Were the Days", written by Lee Adams (lyrics) and Charles Strouse (music), was presented in a unique way for a 1970s series: Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton seated at a console or spinet piano (played by Stapleton) and singing the tune on-camera at the start of every episode, concluding with live-audience applause. (The song dates back to the very first Justice for All pilot, although on that occasion O'Connor and Stapleton performed the song off-camera and at a faster tempo than the series version.) Several different performances were recorded over the run of the series, including one version that includes additional lyrics. The song is a simple, pentatonic melody (that can be played exclusively with black keys on a piano) in which Archie and Edith wax nostalgic for the simpler days of yesteryear. A longer version of the song was released as a single on Atlantic Records, reaching No. 30 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart early in 1972; the additional lyrics in this longer version lend the song a greater sense of sadness, and make poignant reference to social changes taking place in the 1960s and early 1970s A few perceptible drifts can be observed when listening to each version chronologically: In the original version Jean Stapleton was wearing glasses and after the first time the lyric "Those Were The Days" was sung over the tonic (root chord of the song's key) the piano strikes a Dominant 7th chord in transition to the next part which is absent from subsequent versions. Jean Stapleton's screeching high note on the line "And you knew who you WEEERRE then" became louder, longer, and more comical, although it was only in the original version that audience laughter was heard in response to her rendition of the note; Carroll O'Connor's pronunciation of "welfare state" gained more of Archie's trademark enunciation and the closing lyrics (especially "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.") were sung with increasingly deliberate articulation, as viewers had initially complained that they could not understand the words. Also in the original version the camera angle was shot slightly from the right side of the talent as opposed to the straight on angle of the next version.
In addition to O'Connor and Stapleton singing, footage is also shown beginning with aerial shots of Manhattan, and continuing to Queens, progressively zooming in more closely, culminating with a still shot of a lower middle-class semi-detached home, presumably representing the Bunkers' house in Astoria. The house shown in the opening credits, however, is actually located at 89–70 Cooper Avenue in the Glendale neighborhood of Queens, New York. There is a notable difference, however, between the Cooper Avenue house and the All in the Family set: there is no porch on the Cooper Avenue house, while the Bunkers' home featured a front porch. The footage for the opening had been shot back in 1968 for the series first pilot, thus the establishing shot of the Manhattan skyline was completely devoid of the World Trade Center towers which had not yet been built. When the series aired two years later, the Trade Center towers, although under construction, had still not yet risen high enough to become a prominent feature on the Manhattan skyline (this would not happen until the end of 1971). Despite this change in the Manhattan skyline the original 1968 footage would continue to be used for the series opening until the series transitioned into Archie Bunkers Place in 1979. At that point a new opening with current shots of the Manhattan skyline were used with the Trade Center towers being seen in the closing credits. This opening format – showing actual footage of the cities and neighborhoods in which the show was set – would become the standard for most of Norman Lear's sitcoms including Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons.
At the end of the opening the camera then returns to a few final seconds of O'Connor and Stapleton, as they finish the song. In one version of the opening, at the conclusion Archie hugs Edith at the end, while another version sees Edith smiling blissfully at Archie, while Archie puts a cigar in his mouth and returns a rather cynical look to Edith. Additionally in the first three versions of the opening Archie is seen wearing his classic trademark white shirt. In the last version of the opening done for the series ninth season Archie is seen wearing a grey sweater jacket over his white shirt.
In interviews, Norman Lear stated that the idea for the piano song introduction was a cost-cutting measure. After completion of the pilot episode, the budget would not allow an elaborate scene to serve as the sequence played during the show's opening credits. Lear decided to have a simple scene of Archie and Edith singing at the piano.
The closing theme (an instrumental) was "Remembering You" played by Roger Kellaway with lyrics co-written by Carroll O'Connor. It was played over footage of the same row of houses in Queens as in the opening (but moving in the opposite direction down the street), and eventually moving back to aerial shots of Manhattan, suggesting the visit to the Bunkers' home has concluded. O'Connor recorded a vocal version of "Remembering You" for a record album but, though he performed it several times on TV appearances, the lyrics (about the end of a romance) were never heard in the series.
Except for some brief instances in the first season, there was no background or transitional music.
|This unreferenced section requires citations to ensure verifiability.|
Lear and his writers set the series in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria. The exact location of the Bunkers' house at 704 Hauser Street is completely fictitious (no Hauser Street exists in Queens), however, and factually incorrect with the way addresses are given in Queens (all address numbers are hyphenated, containing the location of the nearest number street to keep in line with the Queens street numbering system). Nevertheless, many episodes reveal that the Bunkers live near the major thoroughfare Northern Blvd, which was the location of Kelcy’s Bar and later Archie Bunker's Place.
The façade of the house shown at the show opening is an actual home located at 89-70 Cooper Avenue, Glendale, New York (citation needed].[
Many real life Queens institutions are mentioned throughout the series. Carroll O’Connor, a real life Queens native from Forest Hills, said in an interview with the Archive of American Television that he suggested to the writers many of the locations to give the series authenticity. For example it is revealed that Archie attended Flushing High School, a real high school located in Flushing Queens, while Edith mentions several times throughout the series that she shops at Gertz Department store, a then existing department store located in Jamaica and Flushing, Queens. Additionally the 1976 episode, "The Baby Contest", deals with Archie entering baby Joey in a cutest baby contest sponsored by the Long Island Daily Press, a then-operating local newspaper in Queens and Long Island.
Additionally the writers of All In The Family continued throughout the series to have the Bunkers, as well as other characters, use telephone exchange names when giving a telephone number (most other series at the time, such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, were using the standard 555 telephone number) at a time when AT&T was earnestly trying to discontinue them. At different times throughout the series the telephone exchanges Ravenswood and Bayside were used for the Bunkers' telephone number. Both exchanges were and still are applicable names for phone numbers in the neighborhoods of Astoria and Bayside. This may have had to do with the fact that at the time many major cities in the United States, such as New York, were resisting the dropping of telephone exchange names in favor of all-number dialing, and were still printing their telephone books with exchange names. This fact is referred to in the 1979 episode "The Appendectomy", when Edith, while dialing a telephone number, uses the Parkview exchange name only to correct herself by saying that she keeps forgetting that it's all number dialing now. However, she comes to the conclusion that the number is exactly the same either way.
NOTE: The most frequent time-slot for the series is in bold text.
A particularly notable episode, that produced the longest sustained audience laughter in the history of the show, is the famous episode-ending scene in which the guest star Sammy Davis, Jr. played himself. Archie is moonlighting as a cabdriver. Davis leaves a briefcase behind in his taxi and goes to the Bunker home to pick it up. After hearing Archie's racist remarks, Davis asks for a photograph with him. At the moment the picture is taken, Davis suddenly kisses a stunned Archie on the cheek. The ensuing laughter went on for so long that it had to be severely edited for network broadcast, as Carroll O'Connor still had one line ("Well, what the hell — he said it was in his contract!") to deliver after the kiss. (The line is usually cut in syndication.)
During the show's sixth season in December 1975, CBS began showing reruns on weekdays. This lasted until September 1979, at which point the reruns entered off-network syndication. Since the late 1980s, All in the Family has been rerun on various networks including TBS, TV Land and Nick at Nite. Since January 3, 2011, the show has been airing on Antenna TV.
All in the Family is one of three television shows (The Cosby Show and American Idol being the others) that have been No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings for five consecutive TV seasons. The show remained in the top-ten for eight of its nine seasons.
NOTE: The highest average rating for the series is in bold text.
|1970–1971||Not in the Top 30|
|1977–1978||#4||24.4 (Tied with 60 Minutes and Charlie's Angels)|
|1978–1979||#9||24.9 (Tied with Taxi)|
The series finale was seen by 40.2 million viewers.
All in the Family was the launching pad of several television series, beginning with Maude on September 12, 1972. Maude Findlay, played by Bea Arthur, was Edith's cousin; she had first appeared on All in the Family in the episode "Cousin Maude's Visit", which aired on December 11, 1971, in order to help take care of the Bunkers when they all were sick with a nasty flu virus. Maude disliked Archie intensely, mainly because she thought Edith could have married better, but also because Archie was a conservative while Maude was very liberal in her politics, especially when Archie denounced Maude's support of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Maude was featured in another All in the Family episode in which Archie and Edith visited Maude's home in Westchester County to attend the wedding of Maude's daughter Carol—it aired as the finale of the second season on March 12, 1972, titled "Maude". The episode was essentially designed to set up the premise for the spin-off series that would air later in the year. In the episode, Bill Macy played Maude's husband, Walter; it was a role he would reprise for the weekly series that fall. Marcia Rodd, the actress who played Carol in the episode, would be replaced by Adrienne Barbeau in Maude. The show lasted for six seasons and 141 episodes, airing its final episode on April 22, 1978.
The second and longest-lasting spin-off of All in the Family was The Jeffersons. Debuting on CBS on January 18, 1975 The Jeffersons lasted 11 seasons and 253 episodes compared to All in the Family's 9 seasons and 208 episodes. The main characters of The Jeffersons were the Bunkers' former next-door neighbors George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) and his wife, Louise "Weezie" Jefferson (Isabel Sanford). George Jefferson was the owner of a chain of seven successful dry-cleaning stores; as The Jeffersons begins, they have just moved from the Bunkers' neighborhood to a luxury high-rise apartment building in Manhattan's Upper East Side. George was considered to be the "black Archie Bunker," and just as racist as Archie.
Other spin-offs of All in the Family include:
There were also three spin-offs from spin-offs of All in the Family:
At the height of the show's popularity, Henry Fonda hosted a special one-hour retrospective of All in the Family and its impact on American television. Included were clips from the show's most memorable episodes up to that time. It was titled The Best of "All in the Family", and aired on December 21, 1974.
A 90-minute retrospective, All in the Family 20th Anniversary Special, was produced to commemorate the show's 20th anniversary and aired on CBS February 16, 1991. It was hosted by the creator, Norman Lear, and featured a compilation of clips from the show's best moments including interviews with cast members Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers. Reiner and Lear promoted the special the previous week on The Arsenio Hall Show.
The special was so well-received by the viewing audience that CBS decided to air reruns of All in the Family during their summer schedule that year. The network placed All in the Family back in its old time slot of 8 pm on Saturday nights. During its summer run, the 20-year-old program consistently placed in the weekly top 20 Nielsen shows.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (formerly Columbia Tri-Star Home Entertainment) released the first six seasons of All in the Family on DVD in Region 1 between 2002-2007. No further seasons were released, because the sales figures did not match Sony's expectations.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The Complete First Season||13||March 26, 2002|
|The Complete Second Season||24||February 4, 2003|
|The Complete Third Season||24||July 20, 2004|
|The Complete Fourth Season||24||April 12, 2005|
|The Complete Fifth Season||25||January 3, 2006|
|The Complete Sixth Season||24||February 13, 2007|
|The Complete Seventh Season||25||October 5, 2010|
|The Complete Eighth Season||24||January 11, 2011|
|The Complete Ninth Season||24||May 17, 2011|
The program has been referenced or parodied in countless other forms of media. References on other sitcoms include That '70s Show, The Brady Bunch and The Simpsons. The animated series Family Guy pays homage to All in the Family in the opening sequence which features Peter and Lois Griffin playing the piano and singing a lament on the loss of traditional values.
Popular T-shirts, buttons, and bumper stickers showing O'Connor's image and farcically promoting "Archie Bunker for President" appeared around the time of the 1972 presidential election. In 1998, All in the Family was honored on a 33-cent stamp by the USPS.
Archie and Edith Bunker's chairs are on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Originally purchased by the show's set designer for a few dollars at a local Goodwill thrift store, the originals were given to the Smithsonian (for an exhibit on American television history) in 1978. It cost producers thousands of dollars to create replicas to replace the originals.
Also, then-US President Richard Nixon can be heard discussing the show (specifically the 1971 episodes "Writing the President" and "Judging Books by Covers") on one of the infamous Watergate tapes.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: All in the Family|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Category:All in the Family|
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