Jean Stapleton - Rotten Tomatoes

Jean Stapleton



Each and every week from 1971 to 1980, the popular TV sitcom All in the Family was heralded by the glass-shattering offkey singing of Edith Bunker, aka "Dingbat." This tended to obscure the fact that Jean Stapleton, the woman who so brilliantly portrayed Edith not only possessed a lilting, well-modulated singing voice, but also was as far removed as possible from a "dingbat" in real life. While attending Hunter College, Stapleton began her performing career as a member of the Robert Shaw Chorale. She made her professional stage debut in 1941, then went on to fruitful work-study associations with the American Apprentice Theater, the American Actors Company, the American Theater Wing, and director-acting coach Harold Clurman. Her first Broadway appearance was in the 1953 production In the Summer House; the following year, she made her TV bow as a semi-regular on the daytime drama Woman With a Past. She endeared herself to Broadwayites with her wistfully funny characterizations in the SRO musicals Damn Yankees, Bells Are Ringing, and Funny Girl, roles that she would carry over into the film versions of these hits. In 1958, she made her first appearance at the Totem Pole Playhouse in Fayetteville, PA, a summer-stock operation managed by her husband, Bill Putch.

Most of Stapleton's onscreen work in the 1960s and 1970s could be found in New York-based movies (Something Wild, Up the Down Staircase, Klute) and TV series (Car 54, Where Are You, The Defenders, The Patty Duke Show). Her earliest association with producer-director Norman Lear occurred in the 1969 theatrical feature Cold Turkey, in which she played a neurotic housewife named Edith. When Lear began assembling the cast for his upcoming TV sitcom All in the Family, he immediately thought of Stapleton for the role of slow-witted, strident, essentially kindhearted Bronx housewife Edith Bunker. Before leaving the series in 1980, Stapleton earned three Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Edith -- not to mention the undying affection of millions.

Once free of All in the Family, she sought out roles that she hoped would demonstrate her versatility: She played the distraught mother of a drug-addicted teenager (enacted by her real-life son, John Putch) in the made-for-TV Angel Dusted (1981), and effectively portrayed Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1982 TV biopic Eleanor: First Lady of the World. Stapleton kept her comic skills sharpened by appearing in the made-for-cable productions of Shelley Duvall: She was terrific as a no-nonsense Fairy Godmother ("Trust me. This is important.") in Duvall's Faerie Tale Theater adaptation of Cinderella, and even better as the title characters in Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. In 1990, she briefly returned to weekly television as co-star (with Whoopi Goldberg) of the offbeat sitcom Bagdad Café. Jean Stapleton was then an infrequent but always welcome TV guest-star presence; in 1995, she startled (and delighted) her Edith Bunker fans with her con brio portrayal of Lea Thompson's sex-starved aunt in an episode of Caroline in the City. In 1998 she had a major part in the romantic comedy You've Got Mail, and that same year she voiced a character in Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. Stapleton retired from acting on screen in 2001. She passed away in 2013 at the age of 90.

Photos

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet A Most Deadly Family
  • Actor
2004
No Score Yet Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes
  • Irene Silverman
2001
No Score Yet The Pursuit of Happiness
  • Lorraine Conrad
2001
No Score Yet Baby
  • Byrd Malone
2000
69% You've Got Mail
  • Birdie
1998
29% Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World
  • Mrs. Jenkins
1998
36% Michael
  • Pansy Milbank
1996
No Score Yet Lily Dale
  • Actor
1996
No Score Yet Bury Me in Niagara
  • Mildred Mallory
1993
33% The Trial
  • Landlady
1993
No Score Yet Shelley Duvall Presents Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - V. 2
  • Actor
1993
No Score Yet The Habitation of Dragons
  • Leonora
1992
No Score Yet Best of Beakman's World
  • Actor
1992
No Score Yet Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories
  • Actor
1992
No Score Yet Fire in the Dark
  • Henny
1991
No Score Yet Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme
  • Mother Goose
1990
No Score Yet Dead Man's Folly
  • Ariadne Oliver
1986
No Score Yet A Matter of Sex
  • Irene
1984
No Score Yet Faerie Tale Theatre - Cinderella
  • Actor
1984
No Score Yet The Buddy System
  • Mrs. Price
1983
No Score Yet Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Actor
1983
No Score Yet Eleanor, First Lady of the World
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
1982
No Score Yet Faerie Tale Theatre - Set
  • Actor
1982
No Score Yet Angel Dusted
  • Betty Eaton
1981
No Score Yet Isabel's Choice
  • Actor
1981
No Score Yet American Documents, Vol. 5: How We Got the Vote
  • Narrator
1976
97% Klute
  • Secretary
1971
40% Cold Turkey
  • Mrs. Wrappler
1971
80% Up the Down Staircase
  • Miss Finch
1967
No Score Yet Something Wild
  • Shirley Johnson
1961
78% Bells Are Ringing
  • Sue
1960
76% Damn Yankees
  • Sister Miller
1958

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT
Grace Under Fire
1993-1998
  • Vivian

Quotes from Jean Stapleton's Characters

No quotes approved yet.