Theme song Those Were the Days
Developed by Norman Lear
|Based on Till Death Us Do Part created by Johnny Speight|
Starring Carroll O'ConnorJean StapletonSally StruthersRob ReinerDanielle Brisebois
Theme music composer Lee Adams, (lyrics)Charles Strouse, (music), Roger Kellaway, (ending theme)
Opening theme "Those Were the Days"Performed by Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton
Ending theme "Remembering You"by Roger Kellaway, (music) and Carroll O'Connor (additional lyrics added in 1971; instrumental version)
Spin-offs The Jeffersons, Maude, Archie Bunker's Place, Gloria, 704 Hauser
Writers Norman Lear, Bernie West, Michael Ross, Milt Josefsberg
Cast Jean Stapleton, Carroll O'Connor, Sally Struthers, Rob Reiner, Danielle Brisebois
All in the Family is an American sitcom TV-series that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network for nine seasons, from January 1971 to April 1979. The following September, it was replaced by Archie Bunker's Place, which picked up where All in the Family had ended and ran for four more seasons.
- Main characters
- Supporting characters
- Recurring characters
- History and production
- Theme song
- Setting and location
- Spin offs
- DVD releases
- Cultural impact
- Awards and nominations
- Primetime Emmy awards and nominations
- Golden Globe Awards and Nominations
- TCA Heritage Award
Produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin and starring Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers, and Rob Reiner, All in the Family revolves around the life of a working-class bigot and his family. The show broke ground in its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for a U.S. network television comedy, such as racism, homosexuality, women's liberation, rape, religion, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence. Through depicting these controversial issues, the series became arguably one of television's most influential comedic programs, as it injected the sitcom format with more dramatic moments and realistic, topical conflicts.
The show is often regarded in the United States as one of the greatest television series of all time. The show ranked number one in the yearly Nielsen ratings from 1971 to 1976. It became the first television series to reach the milestone of having topped the Nielsen ratings for five consecutive years. The episode "Sammy's Visit" was ranked number 13 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time ranked All in the Family as number four. Bravo also named the show's protagonist, Archie Bunker, TV's greatest character of all time. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked All in the Family the fourth-best written TV series ever, and TV Guide ranked it as the fourth-greatest show of all time.
All in the Family is about a typical working-class family living in Queens, New York. Its patriarch is Archie Bunker (O'Connor), an outspoken, narrow-minded white man, seemingly prejudiced against everyone who is not like him or his idea of how people should be. Archie's wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) is sweet and understanding, though somewhat naïve and uneducated; her husband sometimes disparagingly calls her "dingbat". Their one child, Gloria (Sally Struthers), is generally kind and good-natured like her mother, but displays traces of her father's stubbornness; unlike them, however, she is a feminist. Gloria is married to college student Michael Stivic (Reiner) – referred to as "Meathead" by Archie – whose values are likewise influenced and shaped by the counterculture of the 1960s. The two couples represent the real-life clash of values between the so-called Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers. For much of the series, the Stivics live in the Bunkers' home to save money, providing abundant opportunity for them to irritate each other.
The show is set in the Astoria section of Queens, with the vast majority of scenes taking place in the Bunkers' home at 704 Hauser Street. Occasional scenes take place in other locations, especially during later seasons, such as Kelsey's Bar, a neighborhood tavern where Archie spends a good deal of time and which he eventually buys, and the Stivics' home after Mike and Gloria move to the house next door. The house seen in the opening is at 89-70 Cooper Avenue near the junction of the Glendale, Middle Village, and Rego Park sections of Queens. Supporting characters represent the demographics of the neighborhood, especially the African American Jeffersons, who live in the house next door in the early seasons.
History and production
The show came about when Norman Lear read an article in Variety magazine on Till Death Us Do Part and its success in the United Kingdom. He immediately knew it portrayed a relationship just like the one between his father and him.
Lear bought the rights to the show and incorporated his own family experiences with his father into the show. Lear's father would tell Lear's mother to "stifle herself" and she would tell Lear's father "you are the laziest white man I ever saw" (two "Archieisms" that found their way onto the show).
The original pilot was titled Justice for All and was developed for ABC. 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 show and retool it specifically for Gleason, who was under contract to them, but producer Lear beat out CBS for the rights and offered the show to ABC.
In the pilot, 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, which 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 stations' and viewers' complaints caused ABC to cancel Turn-On after only one episode in February 1969, the network became uneasy about airing a show with a "foul-mouthed, bigoted lead" character, and rejected the series at about the time Richard Dreyfuss sought the role of Michael. Rival network CBS was eager to update its image and was looking to replace much of its then popular "rural" programming (Mayberry R.F.D., The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres) with more "urban", contemporary series and was interested in Lear's project. CBS bought the rights from ABC and retitled the show All in the Family. The pilot episode CBS developed had the final cast and was the series' first episode.
Lear wanted to shoot in black and white as Till Death Us Do Part had been. While CBS insisted on color, Lear had the set furnished in neutral tones, keeping everything relatively devoid of color. As costume designer Rita Riggs described in her 2001 Archive of American Television interview, Lear's idea was to create the feeling of sepia tones, in an attempt to make viewers feel as if they were looking at an old family album.
All in the Family was the first major American series to be videotaped in front of a live studio audience. In the 1960s, most sitcoms had been filmed in the single-camera format without audiences, with a laugh track simulating an audience response. Lear employed the multiple-camera format of shooting in front of an audience, but used tape, whereas previous multiple-camera shows like Mary Tyler Moore had used film. Due to the success of All in the Family, videotaping sitcoms in front of an audience became a common format for the genre during the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. The use of videotape also gave All in the Family the look and feel of early live television, including the original live broadcasts of The Honeymooners, to which All in the Family is sometimes compared.
For the show's final season, the practice of being taped before a live audience changed to playing the already taped and edited show to an audience and recording their laughter to add to the original sound track. Thus, the voice-over during the end credits was changed from Rob Reiner's "All in the Family was recorded on tape before a live audience" to Carroll O'Connor's "All in the Family was played to a studio audience for live responses". (Typically, the audience was gathered for a taping of One Day at a Time, and got to see All In the Family as a bonus.) Throughout its run, Norman Lear took pride in the fact that canned laughter was never used (mentioning this on many occasions); the laughter heard in the episodes was genuine.
The series' opening theme song "Those Were The Days", written by Lee Adams (lyrics) and Charles Strouse (music), was presented in a unique way for a 1970s series: Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton seated at a console or spinet piano (played by Stapleton) and singing the tune together on-camera at the start of every episode, concluding with live-audience applause. (The song dates back to the first Justice For All pilot, although on that occasion O'Connor and Stapleton performed the song off-camera and at a faster tempo than the series version.) Six different performances were recorded over the run of the series, including one version that includes additional lyrics. The song is a simple, pentatonic melody (that can be played exclusively with black keys on a piano) in which Archie and Edith wax nostalgic for the simpler days of yesteryear. A longer version of the song was released as a single on Atlantic Records, reaching number 30 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart early in 1972; the additional lyrics in this longer version lend the song a greater sense of sadness, and make poignant reference to social changes taking place in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Those Were The Days
Boy, the way Glenn Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade
Guys like us, we had it made
Those were the days!
And you knew who you were then
Girls were girls, and men were men
Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again
Didn't need no welfare state
Everybody pulled his weight
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great
Those were the days!
A few perceptible drifts can be observed when listening to each version chronologically: In the original version, the lyric "Those Were The Days" was sung over the tonic (root chord of the song's key) the piano strikes a dominant 7th passing chord in transition to the next part which is absent from subsequent versions. Jean Stapleton's screeching high note on the line "And you knew who you WEEERRE then" became louder, longer, and more comical, although only in the original version did the line draw a laugh from the audience; Carroll O'Connor's pronunciation of "welfare state" gained more of Archie's trademark whining enunciation, and the closing lyrics (especially "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.") were sung with increasingly deliberate articulation, as viewers had complained that they could not understand the words. Also in the original version, the camera angle was shot slightly from the right side of the talent as opposed to the straight on angle of the next version. Jean Stapleton performed the theme song without glasses beginning in season 6.
In addition to O'Connor and Stapleton singing, footage is also shown beginning with aerial shots of Manhattan, and continuing to Queens, progressively zooming in, culminating with a still shot of a lower middle-class semidetached home, presumably representing the Bunkers' house in Astoria. The house shown in the opening credits, however, is actually located at 89–70 Cooper Avenue in the Glendale section of Queens, New York. A notable difference exists, however, between the Cooper Avenue house and the All in the Family set: the Cooper Avenue house has no porch, while the Bunkers' home featured a front porch. The footage for the opening had been shot back in 1968 for the series' first pilot, thus the establishing shot of the Manhattan skyline was completely devoid of the World Trade Center towers, which had not yet been built. When the series aired two years later, the Trade Center towers, although under construction, had still not yet risen high enough to become a prominent feature on the Manhattan skyline (this did not happen until the end of 1971). Despite this change in the Manhattan skyline, the original 1968 footage continued to be used for the series opening until the series transitioned into Archie Bunker's Place in 1979. At that time, a new opening with current shots of the Manhattan skyline was used with the Trade Center towers being seen in the closing credits. This opening format – showing actual footage of the cities and neighborhoods in which the show was set – became the standard for most of Norman Lear's sitcoms, including Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons.
At the end of the opening, the camera then returns to a few final seconds of O'Connor and Stapleton, as they finish the song. At the end of the original version, Edith smiles at Archie and Archie smiles off at a slight distance. In the longest running version (from season 2 to season 5), Edith smiles blissfully at Archie, and Archie puts a cigar in his mouth and returns a rather cynical, sheepish look to Edith. From season 6 through the season 8, Edith smiles and rests her chin on Archie's shoulder. In the final season, Edith hugs Archie at the conclusion. Additionally, in the first three versions of the opening, Archie is seen wearing his classic trademark white shirt. In the last version of the opening for the series' ninth season, Archie is seen wearing a grey sweater-jacket over his white shirt. In all versions of the opening, the song's conclusion is accompanied by applause from the studio audience.
The opening for the animated series Family Guy begins with Peter and Lois Griffin singing at the piano, a tribute to the All in the Family opening. As with "Those Were the Days", the lyrics to the Family Guy theme song also seem to imply that things have changed for the worse since the old days ("But where are those good old fashioned values/On which we used to rely?"). The All in the Family opening is also parodied in The Simpsons ninth-season episode "Lisa's Sax", as Homer and Marge Simpson sit at a piano and perform "Those Were the Days" with altered lyrics pertaining to the episode's plot.
In interviews, Norman Lear stated that the idea for the piano song introduction was a cost-cutting measure. After completion of the pilot episode, the budget would not allow an elaborate scene to serve as the sequence played during the show's opening credits. Lear decided to have a simple scene of Archie and Edith singing at the piano.
The closing theme (an instrumental) was "Remembering You" played by Roger Kellaway with lyrics co-written by Carroll O'Connor. It was played over footage of the same row of houses in Queens as in the opening (but moving in the opposite direction down the street), and eventually moving back to aerial shots of Manhattan, suggesting the visit to the Bunkers' home has concluded. O'Connor recorded a vocal version of "Remembering You" for a record album, but though he performed it several times on TV appearances, the lyrics (about the end of a romance) were never heard in the actual series.
Except for some brief instances in the first season, no background or transitional music was used.
Setting and location
Lear and his writers set the series in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria. The location of the Bunkers' house at 704 Hauser Street is fictitious (no Hauser Street exists in Queens). The address is not presented the way addresses are given in Queens: all address numbers are hyphenated, containing the location of the nearest numbered street. Nevertheless, many episodes reveal that the Bunkers live near the major thoroughfare Northern Boulevard, which was the location of Kelsey's Bar and later Archie Bunker's Place.
The façade of the house shown at the show opening is a home located at 89-70 Cooper Avenue, Glendale, Queens, New York, across from St. John Cemetery (40.712492°N 73.860784°W / 40.712492; -73.860784).
Many real Queens institutions are mentioned throughout the series. Carroll O’Connor, a Queens native from Forest Hills, said in an interview with the Archive of American Television that he suggested to the writers many of the locations to give the series authenticity. For example, Archie is revealed to have attended Flushing High School, a real high school located in Flushing, Queens (although in the "Man Of The Year" episode of Archie Bunker's Place, Archie attended Bryant High School in Long Island City, graduating in 1940). As another example, the 1976 episode "The Baby Contest" deals with Archie entering baby Joey in a cutest baby contest sponsored by the Long Island Daily Press, a then-operating local newspaper in Queens and Long Island.
The writers of All in the Family continued throughout the series to have the Bunkers and other characters use telephone exchange names when giving a telephone number (most other series at the time, such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, were using the standard fake 555 telephone number) at a time when AT&T was trying to discontinue them. At different times throughout the series, the telephone exchanges Ravenswood and Bayside were used for the Bunkers' telephone number. Both exchanges were and still are applicable names for phone numbers in the neighborhoods of Astoria and Bayside. This may have had to do with the fact that at the time many major cities in the United States, such as New York, were resisting the dropping of telephone exchange names in favor of all-number calling, and were still printing their telephone books with exchange names. Actual residents of the Bunkers' age continued using exchange names into the early 1980s. This fact is referred to in the 1979 episode "The Appendectomy", when Edith, while dialing a telephone number, uses the Parkview exchange name only to correct herself by saying that she keeps forgetting that it is all-number dialing now. However, she comes to the conclusion that the number is exactly the same either way.
"Sammy's Visit," first broadcast in February 1972, is a particularly notable episode, whose famous episode-ending scene produced the longest sustained audience laughter in the history of the show. Guest star Sammy Davis, Jr. plays himself in the episode. Davis leaves a briefcase behind in Archie's taxi (Archie is moonlighting as a cab driver) and goes to the Bunker home to pick it up. After hearing Archie's racist remarks, Davis asks for a photograph with him. At the moment the picture is taken, Davis suddenly kisses a stunned Archie on the cheek. The ensuing laughter went on for so long that it had to be severely edited for network broadcast, as Carroll O'Connor still had one line ("Well, what the hell — he said it was in his contract!") to deliver after the kiss. (The line is usually cut in syndication.)
During the show's sixth season, starting on December 1, 1975, CBS began showing reruns on weekdays, replacing long-running soap opera The Edge of Night, which had been purchased by ABC. This lasted until September 1979, when the reruns entered off-network syndication by Viacom. The show was picked up in most television markets as such. In 1991, the show began to be syndicated by Columbia/Embassy and has been by their heirs since then.
Since the late 1980s, All in the Family has been rerun on various cable and satellite networks including TBS (although they had the rights locally in Atlanta, as well), TV Land, and Nick at Nite. Since January 3, 2011, the show has been airing on Antenna TV.
The cast settled their residual rights for a cash payout early in the production run.
All in the Family is one of three television shows (The Cosby Show and American Idol being the others) that have been number one in the Nielsen ratings for five consecutive TV seasons. The show remained in the top 10 for seven of its nine seasons.
The series finale was seen by 40.2 million viewers.
According to The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present, All in the Family has the most spin-offs for a prime-time television series, spawning five other shows, three of which were very successful and two of which are spin-offs from spin-offs.
At the height of the show's popularity, Henry Fonda hosted a special one-hour retrospective of All in the Family and its impact on American television. Included were clips from the show's most memorable episodes up to that time. It was titled The Best of "All in the Family", and aired on December 21, 1974.
A 90-minute retrospective, All in the Family 20th Anniversary Special, was produced to commemorate the show's 20th anniversary and aired on CBS on February 16, 1991. It was hosted by Norman Lear, and featured a compilation of clips from the show's best moments, and interviews with the four main cast members. The special was so well received by the viewing audience CBS aired reruns of All in the Family during their summer schedule in 1991, garnering higher ratings than the new series scheduled next to it, Norman Lear's sitcom Sunday Dinner. The latter was Lear's return to TV series producing after a seven-year absence, and was cancelled after the six-week tryout run.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (formerly Columbia Tri-Star Home Entertainment) released the first six seasons of All in the Family on DVD in Region 1 between 2002 and 2007. No further seasons were released, because the sales figures did not match Sony's expectations.
On June 23, 2010, Shout! Factory announced that it had acquired the rights to the series, and has since released the remaining three seasons.
On October 30, 2012, Shout! Factory released All in the Family - The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The 28-disc boxed set features all 208 episodes of the series, as well as bonus features.
As one of US television's most acclaimed and groundbreaking programs, All in the Family has been referenced or parodied in countless other forms of media. References on other sitcoms include That '70s Show and The Simpsons. The animated series Family Guy pays homage to All in the Family in the opening sequence which features Peter and Lois Griffin playing the piano and singing a lament on the loss of traditional values and also paid tribute to the ending credits of the show at the end of the episode "Stewie Loves Lois".
Popular T-shirts, buttons, and bumper stickers showing O'Connor's image and farcically promoting "Archie Bunker for President" appeared around the time of the 1972 presidential election. In 1998, All in the Family was honored on a 33-cent stamp by the USPS.
Archie and Edith Bunker's chairs are on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The originals had been purchased by the show's set designer for a few dollars at a local Goodwill thrift store, and were given to the Smithsonian (for an exhibit on American television history) in 1978. It cost producers thousands of dollars to create replicas to replace the originals.
Then-US President Richard Nixon can be heard discussing the show (specifically the 1971 episodes "Writing the President" and "Judging Books by Covers") on one of the infamous Watergate tapes.
Rapper Redman has made references to Archie Bunker in a few of his songs, specifically his smoking of large cigars.
Awards and nominations
All in the Family is the first of four sitcoms in which all the lead actors (O'Connor, Stapleton, Struthers, and Reiner) won Primetime Emmy Awards. The other three are The Golden Girls, The Simpsons, and Will & Grace.
Primetime Emmy awards and nominations
Golden Globe Awards and Nominations
TCA Heritage Award
In 2013, the Television Critics Association honored All in the Family with its Heritage Award for its cultural and social impact on society.