Carroll O'Connor, star of `All in the Family', dies aged 76

 

Irish-American actor Carroll O'Connor, who became one of television's biggest stars as the grumpy, bigoted Archie Bunker on the landmark 1970s TV series All in the Family, died on Thursday. He was 76.

The Bronx-born and Dublin-educated actor died at Brotman Medical Centre in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City of a heart attack brought on by complications from diabetes..

Though he had a long career in show business, he was indelibly linked to Bunker and All in the Family, which was hailed for its ground-breaking social satire. The show was based on the popular British series Till Death Us Do Part.

Bunker's foils on the show were his liberal, intellectual son-in-law, portrayed by Rob Reiner, and the black family next door.

Mr O'Connor once described his portrayal of Bunker this way: "I'm not playing him to make people hate him for his attitude or make them like him. I'm just playing his attitude as truthfully as I know how."

"Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker was genius at work, God's gift to the world," Norman Lear, producer of All in the Family, said after learning of his death.

Mr O'Connor was the second cousin of the Dublin playwright Ulick O'Connor. He studied English literature at University College Dublin while his wife was a student at Trinity College Dublin.

Impresario Noel Pearson, who produced a play in which he starred in the mid-1980s, said he was a phenomenon in the US who changed the face of TV. "Archie Bunker was a blue collar bigot but he [Carroll] was the total opposite of that. He was a very sophisticated guy and very liberal. It's a big loss," he said from New York yesterday.

Mr Pearson said he produced a George Sibbald play, Brothers, which Mr O'Connor directed and acted in the mid-1980s. It played in Philadelphia and Boston, but closed after a night in Broadway when it received mixed reviews.