Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker
|Loading dock foreman, janitor, and taxi driver)|
Bar Owner (1977-)
|Spouse(s):||Edith Bunker (1948-1980, her death)|
|Related to:||David Bunker (father, deceased)|
Sarah Bunker, née Longstreet (mother, deceased)
Gloria Bunker Stivic (daughter)
Michael Stivic (son-in-law)
Joey Stivic (grandson)
Alfred "Fred" Bunker (brother)
Philip Bunker (brother)
Alma Bunker (sister)
Linda Bunker (niece)
Barbara Lee "Billie" Bunker (niece)
Katherine Bunker (sister-in-law)
|Appeared on:||All in the Family/Archie Bunker's Place|
|Episodes appeared in:||201 in All in the Family series |
96 on Archie Bunker's Place
|Character played by:||Carroll O'Connor|
Archibald "Archie" Bunker is a Queens, New York dockworker/cabdriver in the 1970s top-rated CBS television sitcom series All in the Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker's Place, played to acclaim by Carroll O'Connor. Bunker is a veteran of World War II, a reactionary, conservative, blue-collar dock worker, and family man. The Bunker character was first seen by the American public when AITF premiered on January 12, 1971. In 1979, the show was retooled and renamed Archie Bunker’s Place, finally going off the air in 1983. Bunker lived at the fictional address of 704 Hauser Street in Astoria, Queens in New York City, New York.
When first introduced on All in the Family in 1971, Archie was the head of a family consisting of his wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), his adult daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), and his liberal son-in-law, college student Michael "Mike" Stivic (Rob Reiner), (with whom Archie disagreed on virtually everything; he frequently characterized Mike as a "dumb Polack", and usually addressed him as "Meathead" because, in Archie's words, he was "dead from the neck up"). During the show's first five seasons, Mike and Gloria were living with Archie and Edith, so that Mike could put himself through college. (They later moved to their own home, though it turned out to be next door, allowing Archie and Mike to interact nearly as much as they had when they were living in the same house.)
All in the Family got many of its laughs by playing on Archie's bigotry, although the dynamic tension between Archie and liberal Mike provided an ongoing political and social sounding board for a variety of topics.
The inspiration for Archie Bunker was Alf Garnett, the character from the BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, on which All in the Family was based. Archie, in turn, was an inspiration for Eric Cartman of FOX-TV's South Park animated series.
In 1999, TV Guide ranked him number 5 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list.
In 2005, Archie Bunker was listed as number 1 on Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters, defeating runners-up such as The Honeymooners Ralph Kramden, I Love Lucy's Lucy Ricardo, Happy Days's Arthur Fonzarelli, and Homer Simpson of The Simpsons animated TV series.
Archie appears in all but seven episodes of the series (three were missed because of a contractual dispute between Carroll O'Connor and Norman Lear in Season 5).
Archie's armchair is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History.
Famous for his gruff, ignorant, bigoted persona—African Americans, Hispanics, "Communists," hippies, gays, Jews, Catholics, "women's libbers", and Polish-Americans were frequent targets of his barbs—Archie was in fact a complex character. Archie's own ethnicity is never explicitly stated, other than the fact that he is a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP). (Note: Archie's character voice was created by a mix of accents Carroll O'Connor heard while studying acting in New York City.)
Although an Anglo-Saxon ancestry might suggest he is of English origin, Archie mocks the British and refers to England as a "fag country," because of their English accents. He also refers to German people as "Krauts". He also refers to Irish people (Carroll O'Connor himself is of Irish extraction) as "Micks", the Japanese as "Japs", the Italians as "Dagos", the Chinese as "Chinks", Polish persons as "Polacks" and Hispanics or Latinos as "Spics." He often uses the word "colored" in reference to African-Americans.
Rather than being motivated by malice, though, Archie was portrayed as hardworking, a loving father and husband, and a basically decent man whose views were merely a product of the era and working-class environment in which he had been raised. Nevertheless, Archie was bad-tempered and frequently told his long-suffering, scatter-brained wife Edith to "Stifle" and "Dummy up". Series creator Norman Lear admitted that this is how his father treated Lear's mother. As the series progressed, Archie mellowed somewhat, albeit often out of necessity. In one episode, he expressed revulsion for a Klu Klux Klan-like organization which he accidentally joined. On another occasion, when asked to speak at the funeral of his friend, Stretch Cunningham, Archie—surprised to learn that his friend was Jewish—overcame his initial discomfort and delivered a moving eulogy, closing with a heartfelt "Shalom." Most crucially, in 1978, the character became the guardian of Edith's step-cousin Floyd's nine-year old daughter, Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois), and came to accept her Jewish faith, even buying her a Star of David necklace.
Archie was also known for his frequent malapropisms and spoonerisms. For example, in referring to Edith's gynecologist as a "groinacologist", or Catholic priests who go around sprinkling "incest" (incense) on their congregation. By the show's second season, these were dubbed "Bunkerisms", "Archie Bunkerisms" or simply "Archie-isms".
Archibald 'Archie' Bunker was born 20 May 1924 to parents David and Sarah Bunker. Information on his siblings is inconsistent (three are mentioned, but he is also stated to be an only child). Archie celebrated his 50th birthday in 1974, and was still alive on 4 April 1983.
Family Dysfunction in Archie's Childhood
While locked in the storeroom of Archie's Place with Mike in the episode titled "Two's a Crowd", a drunken Archie confides to Mike (Rob Reiner) that as a child, his family was desperately poor and that he was teased in school. In the same episode, Mike learns that Archie was mentally abused by his father, who was the source of his bigoted views. Yet Archie then goes on to vehemently defend his father, who he claims loved him and taught him "right from wrong." The only clue to his father's occupation is a railroad watch that Archie receives from his formerly long-estranged brother, Alfred, or "Fred", played by actor Richard McKenzie, who later appeared in two episodes, Archie's Brother and The Return of Archie's Brother.
Fred and Archie, as it is learned when Fred visits Archie in the "Archie's Brother" episode, had not seen each other in the 29 years since Archie and Edith's wedding, although they apparently had communicated over the years via phone, their long estrangement fueled because of a petty argument, apparently out of a sibling rivalry of sorts going back to their childhood; Fred visits Archie for support because he is about to go into the hospital for a major operation, and the two apparently seem to patch things up between them. However, in Fred's return trip to visit Archie and Edith, he arrives with a beautiful 18-year-old wife named Katherine. This leads to a heated discussion, which erupts into argument between Archie and Fred over April–September romances, and places another strain on the relationship between Archie and Fred, who storms angrily out of the Bunker home with his teen bride.
A World War II veteran who had been based in Foggia, Italy for twenty-two months, Archie, during a visit with a doctor, it is stated that he had an undistinguished military record for his non-combat ground role in the US Army Air Corps, which at the time was a branch subordinate to the Army Air Forces. Archie often insisted that he was a member of the Air Corps. He received the Good Conduct Medal and in the episode "Archie's Civil Rights" it is disclosed he also received the Purple Heart for being hit in his buttocks by shrapnel.
Archie married Edith Bunker in 1949 until her death in 1980, some 22 years before the storyline set for the first season. Later recollections of their mid-1940's courtship do not result in a consistent timeline. On the flashback episode showing Mike and Gloria's wedding, Archie indicates to Mike that his courtship of Edith lasted two years, and hints that their relationship was not consummated until a month after their wedding night. Edith elsewhere recollects that Archie fell asleep on their wedding night, and blurts out that their sex life has not been very active in recent years. On another occasion, Edith reveals Archie's history of gambling, which caused problems in the early years of their marriage.
According to Edith, Archie's resentment of Mike stemmed primarily from the fact that Mike was attending college, while Archie had been forced to drop out of high school towards the end of Great Depression to help support his family. (Archie doesn't take advantage of the GI Bill to further his education, although he does attend night school to earn a high school diploma in 1973.) Archie is also revealed to have been an outstanding baseball player in his youth; his dream was to pitch for the New York Yankees. He had to give up this dream when he left high school to enter the workforce. His uncle got him a job on a loading dock after World War II, and by the 1970s he was a foreman.
A Protestant, Archie seldom attended church, despite professing strong Christian views. The original 1968 pilot mentions that in the 22 years Archie and Edith were married. Archie had only attended church seven times (including their wedding day), and that Archie had walked out of the sermon the most recent time, disgusted with the preacher's message (which he perceived as leftist. Archie's religiosity often translated into knee-jerk opposition to atheism or agnosticism (which Mike and Gloria variously espoused), Catholicism, and, until late in the series, Judaism.
Archie was a Republican  and an outspoken supporter of Richard Nixon, as well as an early (1976) supporter of Ronald Reagan, correctly predicting his election in 1980. During the Vietnam War, he dismissed peace protesters as unpatriotic, and had little good to say about the Civil Rights Movement. Despite having an adversarial relationship with his black neighbors, the Jeffersons, he formed an unlikely friendship with their son Lionel, who performed various odd jobs for the Bunkers, and tolerated Archie's patronizing racial views.
The later spinoff series 704 Hauser features a new, black family moving into Bunker's old home. The series is set in 1994, but does not indicate whether Bunker, who would be 70 by this time, is still alive. (His grandson, Joey Stivic, appears briefly in the first episode of the series, but makes no statement one way or the other on this point.)
Such was the name recognition and societal influence of the Bunker character that by 1972 commentators were discussing the "Archie Bunker vote" (i.e., the voting bloc comprising urban, white, working-class men) in that year's presidential election; in the same year, there was a parody election campaign, complete with T-shirts, campaign buttons, and bumper stickers, advocating "Archie Bunker for President." The character's imprint on American culture is such that Archie Bunker's name was still being used in the media in 2008, to describe a certain group of voters who voted in that year's U.S. presidential election.
Norman Lear originally intended that Bunker be strongly disliked by audiences. Lear was shocked when Bunker quietly became a beloved figure to much of middle America. Lear thought that Bunker's opinions on race, sex, marriage, and religion were so wrong as to represent a parody of right wing bigotry. Sammy Davis, Jr., who was both black and Jewish, genuinely liked the character. He felt that Bunker's "bigotry" was based on his rough, working-class life experiences, and that Bunker was honest and forthright in his opinions, showing an openness to changing his views if an individual treated him right. Davis in fact appeared on All In The Family to tell the Bunker character this.
- George Jefferson is similar to Archie Bunker himself. Both of their wives had to put up with them as the straight man.
- Declared dead a month earlier of the premiere episode of the second season of Archie Bunker's Place, in 1980
- Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Larry Divney 'Speaking Freely' transcript (Recorded March 1, 2002, in Aspen, Colo.). Firstamendmentonline.org (2002-03-01). Retrieved on 2012-07-07.
- TV Guide to TV,. Barnes and Noble (2004). ISBN 0-7607-5634-1.
- The 100 Greatest TV Characters. Bravo. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved on January 14, 2012.
- TV's 50 Funniest Phrases, NBC, May 26, 2009.
- "Archie and the KKK," Parts I and II
- Episode 197
- Rosa, A. F., & Eschholz, P. A. (1972). Bunkerisms: Archie's Suppository Remarks in All in the Family. The Journal of Popular Culture, VI(2), 1540-5931. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-3840.1972.0602_271.x
- In episode 106, titled Archie and the Quiz, there is a direct reference to the fact that Archie was born in 1924.
- stated in season one, episode one, "Meet the Bunkers"
- Last original airing of Archie Bunker's Place
- "Archie and the FBI"
- [dead link]
- Yahoo!News[dead link]
- The Archie Bunker strategy? | Philadelphia Daily News | 13 March 2008[dead link]