On January 12, 1971, the first episode of "All in the Family" premiered on CBS. Here are 5 fascinating tidbits you might not have known about this groundbreaking show...
It Was Based On A British Comedy
Norman Lear is one of TV’s most prolific creators, but All In The Family wasn’t entirely his idea. Lear purchased the rights to the British comedy Till Death Do Us Part, a series that appeared on BBC from 1965 to 1975. In the British series, a bigoted, conservative Alf Garnett lives with his wife and daughter, as well as his liberal son-in-law. Sound familiar? Both shows were huge hits in their home countries, with Till Death Do Us Part running ten years and All in The Family running nine.
Archie Bunker Went By A Different Name The original script pilot episode named the show Justice for All and starred Carroll O'Connor as Archie Justice and Jean Stapleton as his wife, Edith. They then cast Kelly Jean Peters and Tim McIntire for Gloria and Richard (Michael's original name), but ABC passed on the show saying that the older cast lacked chemistry with the younger actors. ABC passed again after seeing the second pilot, renamed Those Were the Days, with different actors playing Archie and Edith. Fortunately, CBS picked up the show, and the cast we know came to be: Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner as Gloria and Michael, and Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton as Archie and Edith Bunker.
Archie Bunker Was Inspired By Lear's Father Norman Lear's parents served as templates for Archie and Edith. His father, Herman Lear, often told his son that he was the lazy, and called him "Meathead." He also referred to his wife as "Dingbat" and told her to "stifle herself" on several occasions, catch phrases we all remember well from the show. Mr. Lear also had a chair in the living room that no one else was allowed to sit in. Sound familiar again?
Mickey Rooney Turned Down The Role Of Archie
Veteran actor Mickey Rooney read the script after being offered the role as Archie and turned it down. He said he thought the show would fail because of all the racist comments, and even Carroll O’Connor was skeptical of the show, saying that CBS would cancel it after six weeks. Harrison Ford, the future Star Wars star, was once offered the role of Michael “Meathead” Stivic, but turned down the chance to play Archie's ultra-liberal son-in-law.
Many Calls Came in Regarding the Theme Song
Although the network was ready to receive lot of calls once the sitcom aired, they expected them to be complaints about the program content. Instead, most people wanted to know what the words were to one of the lyrics in the theme song. The line so many people could not understand was “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great,” so O'Connor and Stapleton re-recorded the track before the third season and enunciated the mystery line. The LaSalle was a high-end General Motors car that was made between 1927 and 1940.