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Jean Stapleton of ‘All in the Family’ dies at 90
Stapleton went on stage in Syracuse, N.Y., that night and continued on with the tour. “That’s what he would have wanted,” she told People magazine in 1984. “I realized it was a refuge to have that play, rather than to sit and wallow. And it was his show.”
Stapleton was born in New York City to Joseph Murray and his wife, Marie Stapleton Murray, a singer. She attended Hunter College, leaving for a secretarial stint before embarking on acting studies with the American Theatre Wing and others.
Stapleton had a long working relationship with playwright Horton Foote, starting with one of his first full-length plays in 1944, “People in the Show,” and continuing with six other works through the 2000s.
“I was very impressed with her. She has a wonderful sense of character. Her sense of coming to life on stage — I never get tired of watching,” Foote told the AP in 2002. He died in 2009.
Her early TV career included guest appearances on series including “Lux Video Theatre,” ”Dr. Kildare” and “The Defenders.”
Her post-“All in the Family” career included a one-woman stage show, “Eleanor,” in which she portrayed the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Stapleton spent summers working at the Totem Pole Playhouse near Harrisburg, Pa., operated by her husband, William Putch. She made guest appearances on “Murphy Brown” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” and even provided the title character’s voice for a children’s video game, “Grandma Ollie’s Morphabet Soup.”
For years, she rarely watched “All In the Family,” but had softened by 2000, when she told the Archive of American Television that enough time had passed.
“I can watch totally objectively,” she said. “I love it. And I laugh. I think, ‘Oh,’ and I think, ‘Gee, that’s good.’”
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