Jean Stapleton, Archie Bunker’s Better Half, Dies

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 1 2013 6:30 PM

Jean Stapleton, Archie Bunker’s Better Half, Dies at 90

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Jean Stapleton attend the premiere of the TNT original film Don Quixote in West Hollywood, CA, March 30, 2000

Photo by Brenda Chase

Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker in the 1970s groundbreaking All in the Family died Friday at her New York home, her children announced Saturday, reports the Associated Press. Stapleton had built a full resume in the theater world early in her career, but gained widespread recognition due to her portrayal of Edith Bunker, whom her husband often referred to as “Dingbat.”  Stapleton got eight Emmy nominations, and won three times, for her portrayal of the naïve Edith.

Although she went on to play other roles, including Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1982 film Eleanor, First Lady of the World and starred in two Nora Ephron films – You’ve Got Mail and Michael – she was tied to the character of Edith Bunker until her death. Although viewers loved Edith, Stapleton wasn’t that big of a fan, often saying she hoped her character wasn’t a representation of reality.

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"What Edith represents is the housewife who is still in bondage to the male figure, very submissive and restricted to the home. She is very naive, and she kind of thinks through a mist, and she lacks the education to expand her world. I would hope that most housewives are not like that,” Stapleton told the New York Times in a 1972 interview.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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