"Those were the days!":
Remembering Carroll O'Conner and All in the Family

Carroll O'Conner passed away on Thursday, at the age of 76. The man was one of television's greatest actors, on TV's most daring and groundbreaking sitcom, All in the Family.  The show, driven by O'Conner's wonderful portrayal of the lovable racist, Archie Bunker, changed the face of television forever.  Archie Bunker said all of those things that "you can't say on TV."  The show was so bold, when it premiered in 1971, that it literally jolted awake millions of complacent couch potatoes, and got them thinking about, and rethinking their opinions on, serious issues such as racism, sexism, drug legalization, police brutality, homosexuality, war, peace, corporate monopolies, euthanasia, the environment, rape, and, more than anything, Republicans.   After All in the Family called them on their shit, conservatives could never gain back their squeaky clean image.   The secret was out, America knew what these closet-bigots were saying behind closed doors, and things would never be the same; the days of Father Knows Best were gone forever.  Three years after All in the Family's television debut, Republican President Richard M. Nixon resigned, White House tapes were released, filled with Nixon's racial slurs, and suddenly Archie Bunker became a real person -- only, he wasn't a taxi cab driver -- he was the President of the United States of America.  The entire Republican party bowed its head in shame.  As America's right sunk to new lows, All in the Family jumped to new heights, spending five years as the number 1 show in America.  In 2001, as America once again forgets the evil that is Republican, All in the Family becomes as relevant, if not more relevant, than it was 30 years ago.  Maybe some daring soul will try to wake us all up again, with an All in the Family for the new millennium.  Sadly, we won't have a Carroll O'Conner to bring it to life.  After playing Archie Bunker for 12 years, winning 4 Emmy awards in the process, O'Conner has proven, time and again, that he is the rarest of actors . . . one that can make us laugh until we cry, laugh until we comprehend, and laugh until we change the world.   
-Alex Sandell


Carroll O' Conner with his real life wife at
the Return to Me premiere (2000) . . .


. . . And with his TV wife on All in the Family (1971).

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