NEW YORK, June 4, 2013 — She won fame and national recognition for her role as Edith, Queens-based working stiff Archie Bunker’s ditzy wife, in their 1970s hit TV series “All in the Family.” But late actress Jean Stapleton was actually better known throughout her career as a veteran Broadway actress, particularly to avid New York theatergoers. In tribute to her memory, Broadway theaters will dim their marquee lights tonight in her memory.
Surrounded by family members, Stapleton died last Friday in New York at the age of 90, reportedly of natural causes.
According to the Broadway League, Broadway’s glittering light show will be dimmed for one minute at precisely 8 p.m. EDT.
First and foremost, live theater was actually Jean Stapleton’s real passion, in spite of the recognition she won for her well-known TV role. She compiled a lengthy and impressive theatrical resume, starting in 1941 as she began her professional career as a New England stock player before moving on to the bright lights and bigger audiences of Broadway in the 1950s and 60s.
Perhaps most notably, in 1964, she originated the role of Mrs. Strakosh in the hit Broadway musical “Funny Girl” with Barbra Streisand, a show that also catapulted Ms. Streisand into national recognition. Others musicals and plays graced by Ms. Stapleton over the years included “Bells Are Ringing,” ”Rhinoceros” and “Damn Yankees.”
It’s likely a given that Ms. Stapleton’s extensive stage experience contributed greatly to her success as Edith Bunker on “All in the Family.” Aside from its then highly-adventurous subject matter, the TV series was one of the first modern television programs to dispense with the canned laugh track, taping each show in front of a live studio audience—a setting that would have been second nature for Jean Stapleton.
Ms. Stapleton is survived by her daughter, Pamela Putch, a television producer, and her son, John Putch, a film and television director. Funeral arrangements have not been publicly announced.
—AP contributed to this report
Photo above: Cast members of “All in the Family.” L-R: Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, and Sally Struthers pose with their Emmys backstage at the 24th annual Emmy Awards in Hollywood, Ca., Sunday night, May 14, 1972. (AP file photo)
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