Top 5 moments from ‘All in the Family’ as the show turns 50
“All in the Family” won a slew of awards during its nine-season run — including Primetime Emmys for stars Carroll O’Connor (four times) and Jean Stapleton (three times), as well as supporting cast Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers (two Emmys apiece).
The CBS sitcom, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, also generated its share of memorable moments, including these five episodes:
‘Sammy’s Visit,’ Season 2 (Feb. 19, 1972)
Archie (Carroll O’Connor) is moonlighting as a cab driver and has a famous fare — legendary entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., who accidentally leaves his briefcase behind. Sammy schleps out to the Bunker residence in Queens (704 Hauser St.) to retrieve the briefcase; everyone is thrilled to meet him but Archie’s clueless comments expose his ingrained bigotry. As Sammy leaves, he asks for a picture with Archie and, as the flashbulb pops, gives him a kiss on the cheek and heads out the door — generating the most sustained studio-audience laughter in TV history.
‘Archie in the Cellar,’ Season 4 (Nov. 17, 1973)
With the family away for the weekend, Archie accidentally locks himself in the basement and gets drunk, recording his last will and testament on a tape recorder and waiting for “the Lord” to take him away. In a Season 1 episode, “The First and Last Supper,” Archie had argued with next-door neighbor Louise Jefferson’s (Isabel Sanford) brother-in-law, Henry (Mel Stewart) — who claimed that Jesus was black. Now, as a sloshed Archie waits to be delivered, he hears a voice yelling, “I’m coming for you, Mr. Bunker” . . . as a black man walks down the basement steps. Archie, stunned, drops to his knees. “Forgive me, Lord,” he says, “the Jeffersons was right!”
‘Gloria Has a Belly Full,’ Season 1 (Feb. 16, 1971)
Archie’s precious “little girl,” his grown daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), suffers a miscarriage. Archie goes upstairs to comfort her; they’re both extremely upset. Gloria tells him that she knows he loves her. Archie can’t articulate the sentiment, but his distress and his love for Gloria is palpable. Great acting from Struthers and O’Connor.
‘Edith’s 50th Birthday,’ Season 8 (Oct. 16, 1977)
In this two-part episode, Edith (Jean Stapleton) is celebrating her big milestone birthday when a man disguised as a police detective breaks into the Bunker house and attempts to rape her. (The rest of the family is next door at Gloria and Mike’s house, planning her surprise party.) Edith fights off the rapist and then tells Archie about her harrowing ordeal — the rawest moment in the show’s history.
‘Two’s a Crowd,’ Season 8 (Feb. 12, 1978)
Mike (Rob Reiner) is helping Archie close up the bar and accidentally locks them in a storeroom. No one is around to help them, so they settle down for the night with a bottle of booze, where Mike questions Archie about his bigotry (and Archie uses the N-word). He reveals to Mike that he had a tough childhood shaped by an abusive father, but he loved him nonetheless. Archie is, in his own roundabout way, telling Mike that he loves him — for the first time.
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