Archie Bunker's Place opening screen
CBS Television City
First Original episode aired
September 24, 1979
Last Original episode aired
April 4, 1983
Archie Bunker's Place is an American sitcom originally broadcast on the CBS network, conceived in 1979 as a spin-off and continuation of All in the Family. While not as popular as its predecessor, the show maintained a large enough audience to last for four seasons, until its cancellation in 1983. In its first season, the show performed so well that it knocked Mork & Mindy out of its new Sunday night time slot. A year before, Mork & Mindy had been the No. 3 show on television during its first season.
Archie Bunker's Place continued on from All in the Family. Although the Bunker home, the primary setting for the original series, was featured, the new series was primarily set in the titular Archie Bunker's Place, the neighborhood tavern in Astoria, Queens which Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) purchased in the eighth-season premiere of All in the Family. During the premiere of Archie Bunker's Place, Bunker takes on a Jewish partner, Murray Klein (Martin Balsam), when co-owner Harry Snowden decides to sell his share of the business. Early in the first season, to increase business, Archie and Murray build a restaurant onto the bar; the additions include a separate seating area for the restaurant and a well-equipped kitchen with a service window. The regular patrons include Barney Hefner (played by Allan Melvin), Hank Pivnik (Danny Dayton), and Edgar Van Ranseleer.
Archie Bunker's Place was the sounding board for Archie's views, support from his friends, and Murray's counterpoints. Later in the series, after Murray re-marries and leaves for San Francisco, Archie finds a new business partner, Gary Rabinowitz (Barry Gordon), whose views were liberal, in contrast to Archie's political conservatism.
- Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker, a blue-collar worker whose ignorant stubbornness tends to cause his arguments to self-destruct. By the time of Archie Bunker's Place, however, the character has mellowed somewhat and is no longer as explicitly bigoted as he had been during All in the Family, even agreeing to go into business with Murray, who is Jewish, and becoming close friends with him.
- Jean Stapleton continued to play Archie's wife Edith Bunker when Archie Bunker's Place premiered. The show featured Edith five times during the first 14 episodes of the first season, but Stapleton decided to leave the series late in 1979; her character was referred to but unseen during most of the 1979–1980 season. The writers and producers addressed Stapleton's departure in the Season 2 premiere, explaining that Edith had died of a stroke. Archie reflected on his wife's death and eventually began dating again.
- Martin Balsam as Murray Klein (1979–1981). Murray was Archie's Jewish partner, who held liberal views similar to those of Archie's son-in-law Michael Stivic. Unlike Mike, Murray was much more tolerant and patient with Archie's views.
- Danielle Brisebois as Stephanie Mills, the 10-year-old Jewish daughter of Edith's step-cousin, Floyd Mills. Archie and Edith take Stephanie in after her father, a chronic, unemployed drunk, abandoned her during the final season of All in the Family. Stephanie loved to sing and dance, and her talents were showcased in several episodes.
- Celeste Holm as Estelle Harris (1981–1983), Stephanie's wealthy grandmother, who would often be at odds with Archie over his rearing of Stephanie.
- Allan Melvin as Barney Hefner, one of Archie's best friends and a regular at the bar. Their friendship was first established in 1972 during an episode of All in the Family. He was then married to a woman named Mabel; after she died (somewhere around the 1975–1976 season), Barney married a friend of Edith's named Blanche (played by Estelle Parsons), some time around 1977. Blanche left Barney numerous times before the couple divorced in 1979, and Barney was ordered to pay alimony.
- Danny Dayton as Hank Pivnik, another regular and good buddy of Archie's. He first appeared in 1976 on All in the Family. Hank disappeared with no explanation given after the 1979–1980 season.
- Bill Quinn as Edgar Van Ranseleer (a.k.a. "Mr. Van R"), a blind patron and regular at the bar. He was almost never referred to by his first name. His first appearance was in 1978 on All in the Family.
- Jason Wingreen as Harry Snowden, Archie's former business partner, who continued to work at the tavern as a bartender. Another holdover character from All in the Family, which Wingreen joined in 1976.
- Abraham Alvarez and Joe Rosario as Jose Perez and Raoul Rosario, two Latin-American immigrants employed as assistant cooks at Archie's bar. Archie later learns they are illegal immigrants after they refuse to give a statement to police after having witnessed a mugging.
- Anne Meara as Veronica Rooney (1979–1982), the cook at Archie Bunker's Place. She often made wisecracks and gave Archie a hard time. She insisted that Archie also hire her openly gay nephew Fred as a waiter to help him pay for law school. She was an alcoholic and privately pined to reconcile with her ex-husband, Carmine (who appeared in a few episodes and was played by Meara's real-life husband Jerry Stiller), but knew it wasn't going to happen. Meara appeared sporadically throughout the show's third season and left the show before the fourth and final season.
- Dean Scofield (1979) as Fred Rooney, a gay waiter, and Veronica's nephew.
- Barbara Meek as Ellen Canby (1980–1982). Ellen was a black housekeeper who was hired by Archie after Edith's death. She also took care of Stephanie, and helped keep Archie's tongue in check. Though Archie still harbored some prejudice toward black people by the time she arrived on the scene, he deeply respected Ellen and was grateful for the job she did in helping to raise Stephanie.
- Denise Miller, who joined the cast in 1981 as Archie's 18-year-old niece, Barbara Lee "Billie" Bunker. Billie—who worked as a waitress at Archie Bunker's Place—was the daughter of Archie's estranged brother Fred (and sister of Linda, who appeared once on an episode of All in the Family). Her principal love interest was Gary Rabinowitz (see below).
- Barry Gordon, another 1981 addition to the cast as Jewish lawyer and business manager Gary Rabinowitz. Gary quickly began dating Billie, who was 15 years younger than he was. Just like Mike Stivic and Murray Klein before him, Gary's liberal beliefs often contrasted with those of conservative Archie.
- Sally Struthers returned as Archie's daughter Gloria Stivic for several episodes. In addition to the 1979 episode "Thanksgiving Reunion," Struthers returned in the 1982 two-part episode "Gloria Comes Home," where she returns home from California with her son, Joey after divorcing the Meathead (who had run off to a commune in Humboldt County, California, with an attractive co-ed). The character eventually moved on to her own spin-off series, Gloria. (Note: The original unaired pilot episode to the TV series, which begins with a short appearance by Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker, was later repackaged as an Archie Bunker's Place episode.)
Unlike All in the Family's first eight seasons, Archie Bunker's Place was not videotaped before a live audience, with the exception of a few select episodes (including "Thanksgiving Reunion" and "Archie Alone"). Instead, the show was shot on a closed set with multiple cameras, with the best takes being edited together. The finished product was then shown to live audiences attending tapings of One Day at a Time, thus providing real laughter for the show.
Production of the first three seasons of Archie Bunker's Place took place at Studios 31 and 33 at CBS Television City in Hollywood, the original production home of All in the Family for that show's first six seasons. The final season was taped at Universal City Studios in nearby Universal City, just north of Hollywood. By 1982, most, if not all, of the Norman Lear-produced situation comedies still on the air by this point relocated from Television City or the now-defunct Metromedia Square to Universal City.
The theme song for Archie Bunker's Place was a re-scored instrumental version by Ray Coniff of "Those Were the Days", the long-familiar opening theme to All in the Family. The closing theme, "Remembering You", was a re-scored version of All in the Family's closing theme. Both versions featured a Dixieland-styled arrangement. The opening credits featured a view of the Queensboro Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Queens, followed by shots taken along Steinway Street in Astoria.
Carroll O'Connor was angered about the show's cancellation, maintaining that the show ended with an inappropriate finale. He vowed never to work in any type of show with CBS again, although he starred in In the Heat of the Night, which aired on CBS in that show's last three seasons.
The series was briefly rerun on TV Land in 2002 and 2003, including the unaired Gloria pilot. The last episode did air in a marathon along with the final episodes of All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Gloria.
Whereas All in the Family had been inspired by a British series, Till Death Us Do Part, Archie Bunker's Place would eventually inspire creator Johnny Speight to produce a sequel to the British series. In Sickness and in Health aired in the UK from 1985 to 1992. Several of the episodes were adapted from the American series.
Archie Bunker's Place aired Sundays at 8:00-8:30 PM on CBS for nearly its whole run from 23 September 1979 to 20 March 1983. The last two episodes aired Mondays from 28 March to 4 April 1983.
- Main article: List of Archie Bunker's Place episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||24||September 23, 1979||March 23, 1980|
|2||20||November 2, 1980||May 10, 1981|
|3||29*||October 4, 1981||May 16, 1982|
|4||24||September 26, 1982||April 4, 1983|
NOTE: The highest average rating for the series is in bold text.
|4) 1982–1983||#22||18.3 (Tied with That's Incredible!)|
The series' most notable episode among critics was "Archie Alone," which originally aired November 2, 1980 as a one-hour special to open the second season of the series. In that episode, viewers learn that Edith had died of a stroke a month earlier (Jean Stapleton had resigned from her role), and Archie is unable to grieve. His refusal to let go of his emotions takes its toll on Stephanie, until one day Archie finds a single slipper of Edith's (overlooked when friends came to collect her clothes for charity) in the bedroom. Holding the shoe, Archie laments aloud that Edith slipped away before he could tell her he loved her, and finally breaks down and cries. Later, after a talk with Stephanie, he agrees to take her to visit Edith's grave, fulfilling the request Stephanie had made to Archie at the beginning of the episode. The British TV series In Sickness and in Health, the continuation of Till Death Us Do Part on which All in the Family was based, had a similar episode in which Edith's British counterpart Else Garnett had died from natural causes. This was not a case of one series copying another; both series were forced to write these deaths in for similar reasons.
The first-season episode "Thanksgiving Reunion" marked the final time the original ensemble from All in the Family—O'Connor, Stapleton, Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner—appeared together. In that episode, Mike announces that he has lost his job as a college professor after his participation in a nude protest of a proposed nuclear power plant becomes public. This puts a further strain on his already troubled marriage to Gloria (who at the episode's end lets it slip to Archie that Mike participated only because Gloria didn't want to march alone), and foreshadows the Stivics' divorce.
Another notable episode was "The Return of Sammy," when Sammy Davis Jr. comes to the bar and restaurant after Archie calls up his talk show. He, like Murray, is surprised that Archie has a Jewish niece. Later, when Sammy chokes on some food, Archie uses the Heimlich maneuver to save Sammy's life. At the end of the episode, Archie kisses Sammy, just the opposite of what happened in the parent show's episode "Sammy's Visit."
Later, comedian Don Rickles guest-starred as a crusty boarder named Al Snyder, who rented a room from Archie's friend and neighbor Barney, whose wife Blanche had left him sometime earlier. Highlights of this episode are exchanges combining Rickles' insult humor and his character's curmudgeonly disposition with Archie's sincere but misguided efforts to resolve disputes between Snyder and Barney. Eventually, the Rickles character is exhausted by the constant chatter and decides to rest. The Rickles character drifts off to sleep and dies. The episode ends with Barney pondering whether he'll wind up like Mr. Snyder: "Sore at the world, 'cause I'm all alone."
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released The Complete First Season of Archie Bunker's Place on DVD in North America 31 January 2006. Because sales figures did not match Sony's expectations, it is unknown if the remaining three seasons will ever be released. Some third season episodes were available on Hulu, but the content license has since expired.