Why Did Edith Bunker Leave 'All in the Family'? Jean Stapleton Disputed Rumors

"'Quit' makes it sounds as if I was leaving in anger or with something unfinished," Jean said.

Melissa Willets - Author

Mar. 18 2024, Published 2:28 p.m. ET

A scene from 'All in the Family'
Source: Getty Images

Some of us are lucky enough to have caught reruns of All in the Family, a TV comedy that broke the mold in the 1970s.

One of the main characters, and most talked about too due to the groundbreaking storylines she helmed, was of course Edith Bunker, who was married to Archie.

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Jean Stapleton played the long-suffering spouse of her cringey yet iconic husband, played by Carroll O'Connor.

All in the Family was a hugely popular program. So why did it end in 1979, with Jean among the cast members who left? Details ahead!

Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor at 'All In The Family' taping on Feb. 8, 1972 at CBS Television City in L.A.
Source: Getty Images
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So, why did Edith leave 'All in the Family'?

It was in Season 9 of All in the Family that Jean shared that she would not be returning to the show following the departure of Sally Struthers, who played her daughter, Gloria.

At the time, there were rumors that the elder actress flat-out quit the show.

But she later clarified that this rumor made her feel badly, and simply wasn't the reality of what happened.

"'Quit' makes it sounds as if I was leaving in anger or with something unfinished," Jean said.

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Jean also wanted her fans to understand, "I love Edith. She changed my life."

However, Jean did want to move on from All in the Family. That part was very true.

"So far, by doing other things in the summer, I've kept my identity as an actress separate. But, I was afraid if I went on as Edith, I'd never lose her," Jean admitted.

Indeed, after 206 episodes, Jean was done with Edith.

Although she appeared on five episodes of Archie Bunker's Place, after that, Jean finally left Edith behind and went on to work on other projects.

As she said at the time about having to step away from Edith, whose character on the series had a stroke, "There's a whole personality basis for casting [in Hollywood], and I'm not a personality gal."

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After playing Edith Bunker for the last time, the accomplished star's body of work would include a multitude of TV movies, as well as appearances in more contemporary shows like Grace Under Fire, Murphy Brown, Everybody Love Raymond, and Touched by an Angel, just to name a few.

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Jean also memorably appeared in the hit movie You've Got Mail. She died in 2013, reportedly of natural causes, with her last professional project being in 2001.

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At the time of her passing, her kids Pamela and John Putch said, “Being the children of a beloved Mother on Television means sharing the spirit of who Jean Stapleton was with her friends and fans. It is with great love and heavy hearts that we say farewell to our collective Mother, with a capital M. Her devotion to her craft and her family taught us all great life lessons.”

Fans mourned the actress, including famous ones like Bette Midler, who tweeted at the time, "Jean Stapleton, beloved as Edith in ALL IN THE FAMILY dies at 90. She was unforgettable in that role...rest in peace..."

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