When the characters of George and Louise Jefferson were first introduced during the first season, only Louise was seen at first and George was only talked about. Sherman Hemsley, who was Norman Lear's first choice to play George, was performing in the Broadway musical "Purlie" and didn't want to break his commitment to that show. However, Norman Lear kept the role waiting for him until he was finished appearing in the musical.
When the show was ending its run, Norman Lear spoke with Jean Stapleton (who was growing weary of playing Edith Bunker) about how they would respectfully have Edith die. She said, "Just have her die off, she's only fiction." Lear paused, then said, "Not to me, she isn't."
For the second season, Norman Lear advised Carroll O'Connor that his name would appear first in the credit scroll before the title of the show. O'Connor insisted that Jean Stapleton's name also be put before the credits and pressed Lear on it, who finally agreed, thereby giving both stars top billing.
An ongoing gag is Edith's incompetent singing. In actuality, Jean Stapleton is a professionally trained and accomplished singer who has performed in musical theatre and productions throughout her career.
Carroll O'Connor was living in Italy when he was offered the role of Archie Bunker. He accepted the role only on the condition that the producers would pay for his flight back to Italy if the pilot was not picked up.
Writers considered a story line in which Archie had an affair with next door neighbor and contrast/foil Irene Lorenzo, but the plans were dropped as it was determined to be too far out of character for both Archie and Irene.
Mike Evans had never acted before when he auditioned for the role of Lionel Jefferson. According to director John Rich, Evans' acting in the audition was poor but he still felt that Evans would be great in the role.
The Bunkers' neighbors Frank and Irene Lorenzo disappeared from the series with no explanation. Vincent Gardenia, who played Frank, quit the series due to personal disputes with Norman Lear. Betty Garrett continued as Irene until she left the series to join the cast of Laverne & Shirley (1976).
Originally the theme tune was going to be performed by an orchestra. However, due to budgetary concerns it was decided that series stars Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton perform the song seated at the piano. The two stars updated their rendition each year. The theme was performed by the Ray Conniff Singers when it became Archie Bunker's Place (1979).
When the initial furor after the premiere died down, ratings were so low that the show was about to be cancelled. Then, to the genuine surprise of many connected with the show, it started building a substantial audience during the 1971 summer re-run season. In August of that year, less than a month before the 1971-72 season was scheduled to begin, CBS announced that the series would be renewed.
According to the book "Archie and Edith, Mike and Gloria: The Tumultuous History of All In The Family", the All in the Family (1971) episode titled "Edith's 50th Birthday", where Edith was held prisoner in her home and tormented by a would-be rapist, was originally intended to be an episode of One Day at a Time (1975), with Ann Romano as the victim.
Had Archie's character been killed off as a result of Carroll O'Connor's contract dispute, the show would have been centered around Archie's best friend, Stretch Cunningham, played by James Cromwell. Stretch would have moved in with the Bunkers to look after his best friend's family following his death. However, once O'Connor's contract dispute was resolved, the Stretch Cunningham character was killed off.
When CBS started rerunning the show during the day in 1975, it was edited by three minutes to allow more commercial time. Norman Lear was unhappy with the editing and offered to pay for the commercial time that would have been lost by showing it uncut, but CBS declined his offer.
During a contract hold out, Carroll O'Connor missed the taping of four episodes. Three episodes were filmed about Archie failing to return from a convention. The producers gave O'Connor an ultimatum, that the story arc could conclude with Edith finding out that Archie had been murdered. A fourth episode filmed during O'Connor's hold out has no mention of Archie at all, which can be viewed as a pilot of an Archie-less version of the show. This episode was not broadcast in sequence, but was held back and shown months later.
The story arc regarding Gloria's pregnancy and birth of Baby Joey was originally intended for the fifth season. Those plans were put on hold due to Carroll O'Connor's holdout to start that season, which resulted in newer scripts written to open that season reflecting Archie's unexpected absence.
Sometime prior to becoming involved in the show, Carroll O'Connor read an article about Till Death Us Do Part (1965), the British sitcom on which "All in the Family" would be based. After reading the article, O'Connor commented to his wife how no one would ever be able get away with doing such a series in the US.
In one episode, Archie Bunker, without knowing it, issued what turned out to be a correct prophecy: During an argument with the "Meathead" in Kelsey's Bar, the latter walks out at the end, with Archie yelling out the door after him: "You're gonna get Ree-gan in 1980, wise guy!"
When the show's first pilot was done in New York in 1968 it became the first time a sitcom in the United States used videotape as a recording device. Before that all sitcoms had been recorded on film or kinescoped. However, several variety shows and news shows had already used video taped.
For each episode, two performances were taped and the broadcast version combined the best takes from the two, which is how almost all comedy series are shot today. This was also the first comedy series shot on videotape rather than film.
In one episode Jean Stapleton played not only Edith Bunker but the dour, grumpy girlfriend of a local butcher who was in love with Edith, and found a girlfriend who looked exactly like Edith but was completely the opposite of her personality-wise.
In 1972 Jean Stapleton appeared on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1967) and took part in a parody of "All in the Family". Although she played the Edith Bunker role in the parody, she refused to speak in the distinctive voice she used on All in the Family. Stapleton instead used her normal speaking voice, which sounded nothing like Edith Bunker.
In "Gloria's False Alarm" (Episode 7.14), Edith reveals that Gloria is an only child because after she was born, there were "some problems" (not caused by Gloria), and Edith's doctor recommended that she should not have any more children.
The original pilot was titled "Justice for All" and was developed for ABC. 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". It was 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 ABC turned down the second pilot, CBS developed the third pilot titled "All in the Family". This pilot had the final cast and was the series' first episode.
The series saw something of a revival in the early 199's. Following the success of a 29th Anniversary Retrospective special in February 1991, CBS rebroadcast series episodes in prime time that summer. The airings drew better than expected ratings, and positive reactions. As a result, the network continued to air the series at times throughout the 1991-92 TV season. At times the rebroadcasts drew higher ratings than original programming airing in prime time, including much of CBS' own programming.
The penultimate line of the theme song is "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great." Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton slurred the line some, and the LaSalle--a lower-priced version of the Cadillac that was made by General Motors in the 1930s--was not much remembered, so few people could make sense of this line. In later seasons the opening theme was re-shot and Stapleton pronounced the line phonetically "Gee..our..old..La Salle..ran..great" so that people could understand it easier.
In real life, Carroll O'Connor was very much the opposite of Archie Bunker" politically/socially liberal, intelligent and highly educated, well spoken and giving with his time and money. O'Connor said he accepted the role of Archie largely to challenge himself to tap into and explore the mind set of such a person.
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 British show and retool it specifically for Gleason, who was under contract to them, but producer Norman Lear beat out CBS for the rights and offered the show to ABC.
According to Danielle Brisebois, during the series run from 1970-78 it was taped in front of a live studio audience. However, when the show entered its ninth season, 1978-19, the producers abandoned the studio audience and began taping the show without them. However, after each episode was taped it would be shown to a studio audience and their laughter would be recorded. After the taping of Norman Lear's One Day at a Time (1975), Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton would appear and play "Those Were The Days" live, followed by showing an episode of "All In The Family" played for live audience response. This would explain the change in the voiceover heard during the end credits of the 1978-19 season, with O'Connor now saying "'All In The Family' was played to a studio audience for live response".
Producer Norman Lear's original choice for Archie was Mickey Rooney, who declined. Lear began describing the character to Rooney as "a bigot who uses words like 'spade'" when Rooney interrupted him, saying "Norm, they're going to kill you, shoot you dead in the streets."
In the early 1990s Carroll O'Connor pushed his suggestion for a revived version of the series in which Archie worked full time as a cab driver. Most of the series would take place in Archie's cab, in which he would discuss the day's issues with his passengers. Norman Lear was not receptive to the idea, preferring to concentrate on developing 704 Hauser (1994) instead.
In the porch scenes, if you look closely at the exterior of the home in Queens that was used, the porches didn't match. In the series, the porch held several people. The actual exterior that was filmed could not.
In the original pilot, the title of the show was "Those Were The Days". At the same time a song with the same name by Mary Hopkin was a big hit. When a new pilot was developed, CBS decided to change the title yet kept the theme song titled "Those Were The Days".
The name of George Jefferson's brother, who was living with George and Louise, was Henry. In fact Henry once posed as George because George, who was as big a bigot as Archie, didn't want to set foot in the Bunker's house.
Vincent Gardenia appeared in a couple of episodes before he assumed the role of Frank Lorenzo. His first appearance was as the neighbor who sold his house to the Jeffersons. The second one was when he played the husband of a swinging couple (Rue McClanahan played his wife), accidentally contacted by a naive Edith for friendship.
Gavin MacLeod read for the part of Archie, but did so reluctantly. He was personally opposed to bigotry of all kinds, and felt the subject matter was inappropriate in a comedic format. He also said at the time of his audition that he knew that Norman Lear had always been set on casting Carroll O'Connor for the role.
Two pilots were shot, the first under the title "Justice for All", and the second under the title "Those Were the Days". Different actors played the roles of Mike, Gloria, and Lionel in the first two. The family name was Justice, not Bunker. Meathead was called Dickie, not Michael, and he was originally Irish-American, not Polish-American.
Carroll O'Connor fought bitterly with Norman Lear during the production a couple times with boycotts and contract holdouts, and frequently clashing with Lear about the direction the show was taking. A writer himself he would rewrite Archie 's dialogue, sometimes with Lear's approval, sometimes not. Later he would sue Lear for royalties from The Jeffersons, which he thought he was due.
All in the Family has spun off more shows than almost any other television program. All in the Family spun off Maude which spun off Good Times. It spun off The Jeffersons which spun off Checking In. It spun off Archie Bunkers Place, 704 Hauser as well as Gloria. That's 7 programs spun off from one TV show. The only other TV show that comes close in terms of record spinoffs would be Happy Days.
Betty Garrett played Archie's liberal tomboyish nemesis, Irene Lorenzo. Garrett had been blacklisted by Senator Mccarthy and the House of Unamerican Activities years before that due to alleged affiliations with the communist party and had struggled finding work, so "All in the Family" was a big break for her. She only spent a year on "All in the Family" though before leaving for an even bigger role: Mrs. Babbish on the number 1 rated sitcom Laverne and Shirley. She did come back even after this and appear on "All in the Famiky" a couple more times.
In an EmmyTvlegends interview Carroll O'Connor said that the character of Maude "didn't resemble anyone" he knew, and that Maude was a markedly inferior sitcom to his own. This might be a case of life imitating art since Archie didn't get along with Maude either.
Jean Stapleton played Sister Miller in the film version of "Damn Yankees"(1958). It was while playing this role that she developed the nasal voice that she used for Edith 13 years later for " All in the Family".
We never meet Mike's parents on this show. Even at Mike and Gloria's wedding, we only meet his Uncle Cas (Michael Conrad). Even when Mike gets mugged and has to be hospitalized in one episode, his parents never call or check in (and neither does his Uncle Cas). Whereas we meet many of Gloria's relatives, we only meet Mike's Uncle for a few minutes in the wedding episode, then he vanishes and for the rest of the show and Mike seems to be an orphan.
Allan Melvin played Barney Hefner, Archie Bunker's bigoted lodge brother buddy on All in the Family, and Sam Franklin, Alice Nelson's butcher boyfriend on The Brady Bunch, during the same time (1972-1974).
Isabel Sanford is the only spinoff character from All in the Family to return to All in the Family after her show was spun off: She comes back and makes an appearance on "The Family Next Door" in 1979, (her final appearance).
In an "EmmyTvLegends" interview Isabel Sanford said she was coerced into doing the "The Jeffersons" by the "All in the Family" producers. When the "All in the Family" producers approached her about the spinoff, she declined, saying she felt more comfortable just staying on "All in the Family". They then told her if she didn't join the spinoff she would be written out of "All in the Family" and recast in the spinoff. "That made my decision easy", she said.
"All in the Family" was not without its critics, which included Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint, noted psychologist who was a consultant on "The Cosby Show". In their view, the show made racism a laughing matter, and thus encouraged an acceptance, by blacks and whites alike, of bigotry.