Archie Bunker

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Archie Bunker
All in the family 1975.JPG
Bunker holding his grandson, Joey Stivic, 1975
First appearance"Meet the Bunkers"
(All in the Family)
Last appearance"I'm Torn Here"
(Archie Bunker's Place)
Created byNorman Lear
Based on a character created by Johnny Speight
Portrayed byCarroll O'Connor
Information
OccupationBlue-collar worker (loading dock foreman, janitor, and taxi driver)
Bar Owner (1977-)
FamilyDavid Bunker (father)
Sarah Bunker, née Longstreet (mother)
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)
Oscar (cousin)
Maude Findlay {Cousin-in-law}
Spouse(s)Edith Bunker (1948-1980, her death[1])
ChildrenGloria Stivic (daughter)
 
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Archie Bunker
All in the family 1975.JPG
Bunker holding his grandson, Joey Stivic, 1975
First appearance"Meet the Bunkers"
(All in the Family)
Last appearance"I'm Torn Here"
(Archie Bunker's Place)
Created byNorman Lear
Based on a character created by Johnny Speight
Portrayed byCarroll O'Connor
Information
OccupationBlue-collar worker (loading dock foreman, janitor, and taxi driver)
Bar Owner (1977-)
FamilyDavid Bunker (father)
Sarah Bunker, née Longstreet (mother)
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)
Oscar (cousin)
Maude Findlay {Cousin-in-law}
Spouse(s)Edith Bunker (1948-1980, her death[1])
ChildrenGloria Stivic (daughter)

Archibald "Archie" Bunker is a fictional New Yorker in the 1970s top-rated American television sitcom 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, reactionary, conservative, blue-collar worker, and family man. The Bunker character was first seen by the American public when All in the Family 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 the borough of Queens in New York City.

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[2] of South Park.

In 1999 TV Guide ranked him number 5 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list.[3]

In 2005, Archie Bunker was listed as number 1 on Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters,[4] defeating runners-up such as Ralph Kramden, Lucy Ricardo, Arthur Fonzarelli, and Homer Simpson.

Archie Bunker's own ethnicity is never explicitly stated, other than the fact that he is a WASP. (Archie's character voice was created by a mix of accents Carroll O'Connor heard while studying acting in New York City.[citation needed]) 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 Germans as "Krauts", the Irish 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.

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.

Contents

Character traits

Famous for his gruff, ignorant, bigoted persona—blacks, 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. Rather than being motivated by malice, he 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.[5]

As the series progressed, Archie mellowed somewhat, albeit often out of necessity. In one episode, he expressed revulsion for a Ku Klux Klan-like organization which he accidentally joined.[6] 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.[7]

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"[8][9].

Character biography

Archie was born on May 20, 1924[10] to parents David and Sarah. [11] 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 April 4, 1983.[12]

While locked in the storeroom of Archie's Place with Mike in the episode "Two's a Crowd", a drunk Archie confides 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 brother. [13]

Archie was a World War II veteran who had been based in Foggia, Italy for twenty-two months. During a visit with a doctor it is stated that he had an undistinguished military record for his non-combat ground role in the 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[14] 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.

He married Edith Bunker 22 years before 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 addiction, 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 during the 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 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 [15] 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.)

Viewer reactions

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.[16][17]

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.

See also

References

  1. ^ Declared dead a month earlier of the premiere episode of the second season of Archie Bunker's Place, in 1980.
  2. ^ "Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Larry Divney 'Speaking Freely' transcript (Recorded March 1, 2002, in Aspen, Colo.)". Firstamendmentonline.org. 2002-03-01. http://www.firstamendmentonline.org/about.aspx?id=12881. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  3. ^ TV Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 651. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1. 
  4. ^ "The 100 Greatest TV Characters". Bravo. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. http://web.archive.org/web/20071015070449/http://www.bravotv.com/The_100_Greatest_TV_Characters/index.shtml. Retrieved January 14, 2012. 
  5. ^ TV's 50 Funniest Phrases, NBC, May 26, 2009.
  6. ^ "Archie and the KKK," Parts I and II
  7. ^ Episode 197
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/archie+bunkerism
  10. ^ In episode 106, Archie and the Quiz, there is a direct reference to the fact that Archie was born in 1924.
  11. ^ stated in season one, episode one, "Meet the Bunkers"
  12. ^ Last original airing of Archie Bunker's Place
  13. ^ The Return of Archie's brother
  14. ^ "Archie and the FBI"
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ Yahoo!News[dead link]
  17. ^ The Archie Bunker strategy? | Philadelphia Daily News | 13 March 2008[dead link]

External links