|All in the Family|
|Created by||Norman Lear|
|Based on||Till Death Us Do Part by Johnny Speight|
|Developed by||Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin|
|Theme music composer||Lee Adams (lyrics),|
Charles Strouse (music), Roger Kellaway (ending theme)
|Opening theme||"Those Were the Days"|
Performed by Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton
|Ending theme||"Remembering You"|
by Roger Kellaway, (music) and Carroll O'Connor (additional lyrics added in 1971; instrumental version)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||205 (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||CBS Television City|
Hollywood, California (1971–75)
Hollywood, California (1975–79)
|Running time||25–26 minutes|
|Production company||Tandem Productions|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television|
|Original release||January 12, 1971 –|
April 8, 1979
|Followed by||Archie Bunker's Place|
All in the Family is an American television sitcom that aired on CBS for nine seasons, from January 12, 1971, to April 8, 1979. Afterwards, it was continued with the spin-off series Archie Bunker's Place, which picked up where All in the Family had ended and ran for four more seasons through 1983.
Based on the British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, All in the Family was produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin. It starred Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers, and Rob Reiner. The show revolves around the life of a working-class man and his family. The show broke ground in its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for a US network television comedy, such as racism, antisemitism, infidelity, homosexuality, women's liberation, rape, religion, miscarriages, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence. Through depicting these controversial issues, the series became arguably one of television's most influential comedic programs, as it injected the sitcom format with more dramatic moments and realistic, topical conflicts.
All in the Family is often regarded in the United States as one of the greatest television series in history. Following a lackluster first season, the show soon became the most watched show in the United States during summer reruns and afterwards 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. The episode "Sammy's Visit" was ranked number 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 number four. Bravo also named the show's protagonist, Archie Bunker, TV's greatest character of all time. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked All in the Family the fourth-best written TV series ever.
All in the Family is about a working-class white family living in Queens, New York. Its patriarch is Archie Bunker (O'Connor), an outspoken, narrow-minded man, seemingly prejudiced against everyone who is not like him or his idea of how people should be. Archie's wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) is sweet and understanding, though somewhat naïve and uneducated; her husband sometimes disparagingly calls her "dingbat". Their one child, Gloria (Sally Struthers), is generally kind and good-natured like her mother, but displays traces of her father's stubbornness and temper; unlike them, she's a feminist. Gloria is married to graduate student Michael Stivic (Reiner)–referred to as "Meathead" by Archie–whose values are likewise influenced and shaped by the counterculture of the 1960s. The two couples represent the real-life clash of values between the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers. For much of the series, the Stivics live in the Bunkers' home to save money, providing abundant opportunity for them to irritate each other.
The show is set in the Astoria section of Queens, with the vast majority of scenes taking place in the Bunkers' home at 704 Hauser Street. Occasional scenes take place in other locations, especially during later seasons, such as Kelsey's Bar, a neighborhood tavern that Archie spends a good deal of time in and eventually purchases, and the Stivics' home after Mike and Gloria move out.
Supporting characters represent the changing demographics of the neighborhood, especially the Jeffersons, a black family, who live in the house next door in the early seasons.
The show came about when Norman Lear read an article in Variety magazine on Till Death Us Do Part and its success in the United Kingdom. He immediately knew it portrayed a relationship just like the one between his father and himself.
Lear bought the rights to the show 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).
The original pilot was titled Justice for All and was developed for ABC. Tom Bosley, Jack Warden, and Jackie Gleason were all considered for the role of Archie Bunker. In fact, CBS wanted to buy the rights to the original show and retool it specifically for Gleason, who was under contract to them, but producer Lear beat out CBS for the rights and offered the show to ABC. Mickey Rooney was offered the role but turned it down as he felt the character was "un-American".
In the pilot, Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton played Archie and Edith Justice. Kelly Jean Peters played Gloria and Tim McIntire played her husband, Richard. It was taped in October 1968 in New York City. After screening the first pilot, ABC gave the producers more money to shoot a second pilot, titled Those Were the Days, which Lear taped in February 1969 in Hollywood. Candice Azzara played Gloria and Chip Oliver played Richard. D'Urville Martin played Lionel Jefferson in both pilots.
After stations' and viewers' complaints caused ABC to cancel Turn-On (a sketch comedy series developed by Laugh-In's George Schlatter) 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; by this point, Gleason was no longer under contract to CBS (his own show was among those eliminated), allowing Lear to keep Carroll O'Connor on as the lead. CBS bought the rights from ABC and retitled the show All in the Family. The pilot episode CBS developed had the final cast and was the series' first episode.
Lear wanted to shoot in black and white as Till Death Us Do Part had been. While CBS insisted on color, Lear had the set furnished in neutral tones, keeping everything relatively devoid of color. As costume designer Rita Riggs described in her 2001 Archive of American Television interview, Lear's idea was to create the feeling of sepia tones, in an attempt to make viewers feel as if they were looking at an old family album.
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 an audience response. Lear employed the multiple-camera format of shooting in front of an audience, but used tape, whereas previous multiple-camera shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show had used film. Due to the success of All in the Family, videotaping sitcoms in front of an audience became a common format for the genre during the 1970s, onward. 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, and the voice-over during the end credits were changed from Rob Stone's voice[note 1] to Carroll O'Connor's[note 2] (typically, the audience was gathered for a taping of One Day at a Time, and got 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", was written by Lee Adams (lyrics) and Charles Strouse (music). It was presented in a way that was unique for a 1970s series: Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton were seated at a console or spinet piano (played by Stapleton) and sang the tune together on-camera at the start of every episode, concluding with applause from a studio audience. (The song dates back to the first Justice For All pilot filmed in 1968, although on that occasion O'Connor and Stapleton performed the song off-camera and at a faster tempo than the series version.) Six 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 number 43 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 30 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in early 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, the lyric "Those Were The Days" was sung over the tonic (root chord of the song's key), and the piano strikes a dominant 7th passing 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 only in the original version did the line draw a laugh from the audience. Carroll O'Connor's pronunciation of "welfare state" added more of Archie's trademark whining enunciation, and the closing lyrics (especially "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great") were sung with increasingly deliberate articulation, as viewers had 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. Jean Stapleton performed the theme song without glasses beginning in season 6.
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, culminating with a still shot of a lower middle-class semidetached home, presumably representing the Bunkers' house in Astoria, suggesting that the visit to the Bunkers' home has begun. The house shown in the opening credits is actually located at 89–70 Cooper Avenue in the Glendale section of Queens, New York. A notable difference exists, between the Cooper Avenue house and the All in the Family set: the Cooper Avenue house has no porch, while the Bunkers' home featured a front porch. Since the footage used for the opening had been shot back in 1968 for the series' first pilot, 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 did not happen until the end of 1971). Despite this change in the Manhattan skyline, the original, somewhat grainy 1968 footage continued to be used for the series opening until the series transitioned into Archie Bunker's Place in 1979. At that time, 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 – became the standard for most of Norman Lear's sitcoms, including others in the All in the Family franchise – Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons.
At the end of the opening, the camera then returns to a last few seconds of O'Connor and Stapleton, as they finish the song. At the end of the original version, Edith smiles at Archie and Archie smiles off at a slight distance. In the longest running version (from season 2 to season 5), Edith smiles blissfully at Archie, and Archie puts a cigar in his mouth and returns a rather cynical, sheepish look to Edith. From season six through eight, Edith smiles and rests her chin on Archie's shoulder. In the final season, Edith hugs Archie at the conclusion. Additionally, in the first three versions of the opening, Archie is seen wearing his classic trademark white shirt. In the final version of the opening for the series' ninth season, Archie is seen wearing a grey sweater-jacket over his white shirt. In all versions of the opening, the song's conclusion is accompanied by applause from the studio audience.
In interviews, Norman Lear explained 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 its composer Roger Kellaway, with lyrics later added 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 actual series. In July 1986, vocalist Helen Merrill's contrastingly jazz-flavored rendition, accompanied by a Kellaway-led trio and introduced by O'Connor, was featured on the Merv Griffin Show.
Except for some brief instances in the first season, scenes contained no background or transitional music.
Lear and his writers set the series in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria. The location of the Bunkers' house at 704 Hauser Street is fictitious (no Hauser Street exists in Queens). The address is not presented the way addresses are given in Queens: most address numbers are hyphenated, identifying the number of the nearest cross street. Nevertheless, many episodes reveal that the Bunkers live near the major thoroughfare Northern Boulevard, which was the location of Kelsey's Bar and later Archie Bunker's Place.
The exterior of the house shown at the show opening is a home located at 89–70 Cooper Avenue, Glendale, Queens, New York, across from St. John Cemetery ().
Many real Queens institutions are mentioned throughout the series. Carroll O'Connor, a 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, Archie is said to have attended Flushing High School, a real school in Flushing, Queens (although in the "Man Of The Year" episode of Archie Bunker's Place, Archie attended Bryant High School in nearby Long Island City). As another example, 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.
The writers of All in the Family continued throughout the series to have the Bunkers and 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 fictitious 555 telephone exchange) at a time when the Bell System was trying to discontinue them. At different times throughout the series, the exchanges Ravenswood and Bayside – both valid in the area – were used for the Bunkers' telephone number. Actual residents of the Bunkers' age continued using exchange names into the early 1980s, which is referred to in the 1979 episode "The Appendectomy", in which Edith gets confused between the two versions of a number she is dialing.
Main article: List of All in the Family episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||January 12, 1971||April 6, 1971||34||18.9|
|2||24||September 18, 1971||March 11, 1972||1||34.0|
|3||24||September 16, 1972||March 24, 1973||1||33.3|
|4||24||September 15, 1973||March 16, 1974||1||31.2|
|5||23||September 14, 1974||March 8, 1975||1||30.2|
|6||24||September 8, 1975||March 8, 1976||1||30.1|
|7||25||September 22, 1976||March 12, 1977||12||22.9|
|8||24||October 2, 1977||March 19, 1978||4||24.4[a]|
|9||24||September 24, 1978||April 8, 1979||9||24.9[b]|
"Sammy's Visit", first broadcast in February 1972, is a particularly notable episode, whose famous episode-ending scene produced the longest sustained audience laughter in the history of the show. Guest star Sammy Davis Jr. plays himself. Archie is moonlighting as a cab driver and Davis visits the Bunker home to retrieve a briefcase he left in Archie's cab earlier that day. After hearing Archie's bigoted 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, starting on December 1, 1975, CBS began airing reruns on weekdays at 3 p.m. (EST), replacing long-running soap opera The Edge of Night, which moved to ABC. The show would later move to 3:30 p.m. and in September 1978, 10 a.m. This lasted until September 1979, when Viacom distributed the reruns to the off-network market where many stations picked up the show. In 1991, Columbia Pictures Television began syndicating the show, and Columbia's successor companies have continued to do so.
Since the late 1980s, All in the Family has been rerun on various cable and satellite networks including TBS (although it held the rights locally in Atlanta, as well), TV Land, Nick at Nite, and Sundance TV. From January 3, 2011, to December 31, 2017, the show aired on Antenna TV. As of January 1, 2018, the show began to air on GetTV.
The cast forfeited their residual rights for a cash payout early in the production run.
All in the Family is one of three television shows (The Cosby Show and the reality music competition American Idol being the others) that have been number one in the Nielsen ratings for five consecutive TV seasons. The show remained in the top 10 for seven of its nine seasons.
|1 (1970–71)||Tuesday at 9:30–10:00 pm on CBS||No. 34||18.9||11,358,900|
|2 (1971–72)||Saturday at 8:00–8:30 pm on CBS||No. 1||34.0||21,114,000|
|6 (1975–76)||Monday at 9:00–9:30 pm on CBS||30.1||20,949,600|
|7 (1976–77)||Wednesday at 9:00–9:30 pm on CBS (September 22 – October 27, 1976)
Saturday at 9:00–9:30 pm on CBS (November 6, 1976 – March 12, 1977)
|8 (1977–78)||Sunday at 9:00–9:30 pm on CBS||No. 4||24.4 (tied with 60 Minutes and Charlie's Angels)||17,787,600|
|9 (1978–79)||Sunday at 9:00–9:30 pm on CBS (September 24 – October 1, 1978)
Sunday at 8:00–8:30 pm on CBS (October 8, 1978 – April 8, 1979)
|No. 9||24.9 (tied with Taxi)||18,550,500 |
The series finale was seen by 40.2 million viewers.
As of 2009[update], All in the Family has the most spin-offs for a prime-time television series, directly spawning five other shows, three of which were very successful, as well as two of those spin-offs each having a spin-off of their own.
Main article: Live in Front of a Studio Audience
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. It included 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.
On February 16, 1991, CBS aired a 90-minute retrospective, All in the Family 20th Anniversary Special, hosted by Norman Lear to commemorate the show's 20th anniversary. It featured a compilation of clips from the show's best moments, and interviews with the four main cast members. The special was so well received by the viewing audience CBS aired reruns of All in the Family during its summer schedule in 1991, garnering higher ratings than the new series scheduled next to it, Norman Lear's sitcom Sunday Dinner. The latter was Lear's return to TV series producing after a seven-year absence, and was cancelled after the six-week tryout run due to being poorly received by audiences.
On May 22, 2019, ABC broadcast Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons, produced by Lear and Jimmy Kimmel and starring Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, Kerry Washington and Ellie Kemper.
A second Live in Front of A Studio Audience special was announced in early November 2019 to air on Wednesday December 18, this time pairing the show with Good Times.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (formerly Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment) released the first six seasons of All in the Family on DVD in Region 1 between 2002 and 2007. No further seasons were released, because the sales figures did not match Sony's expectations.
On June 23, 2010, Shout! Factory announced that it had acquired the rights to the series, and has since released the remaining three seasons.
On October 30, 2012, Shout! Factory released All in the Family – The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The 28-disc boxed set features all 208 episodes of the series, as well as bonus features.
On February 6, 2018, Sony released All in the Family- Seasons 1–5 on DVD in Region 1. The 15-disc set features all episodes from the first five seasons.
|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 Complete Series||208||October 30, 2012|
As one of US television's most acclaimed and groundbreaking programs, All in the Family has been referenced or parodied in countless other forms of media. References on other sitcoms include That '70s Show, The Simpsons, and Family Guy
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. The originals had been purchased by the show's set designer for a few dollars at a local Goodwill thrift store, and 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.
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.
Rapper Redman has made references to Archie Bunker in a few of his songs, specifically his smoking of large cigars.
All in the Family is the first of four sitcoms in which all the lead actors (O'Connor, Stapleton, Struthers, and Reiner) won Primetime Emmy Awards. The other three are The Golden Girls, Will and Grace and Schitt's Creek.
In 2013, the Television Critics Association honored All in the Family with its Heritage Award for its cultural and social impact on society.
turn-on abc 1969.
In a clip from the 1970s, Richard Nixon is heard complaining that the sitcom "All in the Family" glorifies homosexuality.
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