Sally Struthers is speaking out on the live All in the Family reboot spearheaded by Jimmy Kimmel and legendary TV producer Norman Lear, and it’s safe to say she is not a fan of the idea. The actress, who is best known for playing Archie and Edith Bunker’s daughter, Gloria Stivic, on All in the Family from 1971 to 1978 and on the short-lived spinoff, Gloria, from 1982-83, told Delaware News Journal she’s confused by the whole concept of the ABC special, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons. The 90-minute special stars Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei in the roles made famous by Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton.
Struthers admitted she was shocked to hear about the live performance of an All in the Family script on ABC four decades after the original series ended its run on CBS.
“Why? What is the point? It’s a classic. All in the Family came at a moment in time that somehow turned out to be the perfect moment to put something that ‘quote-unquote’ radical on TV, and it was the perfect cast. We had the perfect writers.”
Struthers said the classic show can’t be remade 40 years later, especially without her late co-stars Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, who played Archie and Edith Bunker on the original series.
“Nobody is going to be Carroll O’Connor. Nobody but nobody is going to be another Jean Stapleton. And I honestly don’t see the point.”
A fired up Sally Struthers also had a message for her former boss.
“Norman Lear is in his 90s,” Struthers said. “I think he should just have fun and travel, and stop trying to make another mark on TV. He’s made enough marks.”
Although Sally Struthers feels that the shoes of the original All in the Family cast can’t be filled, it should be noted that Norman Lear isn’t trying to do that. Lear told Entertainment Weekly he instructed the stars of the live special to make the classic characters their own instead of trying to replicate the roles or become Jean Stapleton or Carroll O’Connor.
While Sally Struthers has made her position on the All in the Family remake clear, her TV husband Rob Reiner revealed he actually gave suggestions to Lear ahead of the TV special. Reiner, who played Struthers’ husband Mike “Meathead” Stivic on the original All in the Family, told Page Six he talked to Norman Lear about “who might play parts and maybe which episodes they could pick.”
Reiner also revealed that he suggested a remake of the controversial 1972 gun control episode, “Archie and the Editorial.” In the episode, Archie Bunker is invited to give a “man-on-the-street” editorial on television, where he speaks against gun control and is later robbed at gunpoint by two people who saw the news segment.
Reiner said he thought the gun control episode would still be relevant for today because “the issues are exactly the same and the arguments are the same.”
You can see Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers in a scene from the classic All in the Family episode below.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons airs Wednesday, May 22 at 8 p.m. on ABC.