(LOS ANGELES) — January 12 marks the 50th anniversary of one of TV’s most groundbreaking shows: All in the Family.
Based on the British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, producer Norman Lear’s series focused on the bigoted, intolerant Archie Bunker. A loading dock foreman from Queens, NY, he regularly clashed with his liberal daughter and son-in-law Gloria and Mike, aka “Meathead,” on the social issues of the day, while his “dingbat” wife, Edith, ran interference.
All in the Family ran from 1971-79, winning 22 Emmys. Here are five fascinating facts about the show that’s considered one of the greatest in TV history.
5) All in the Family holds the record for having the most spin-offs for a prime-time TV series, with seven — the hits Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Times and Archie Bunker’s Place, plus Gloria, 704 Hauser and Checking In.
4) All in the Family was the first sitcom in which all of the lead actors — Caroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner — won Primetime Emmy Awards. Only three others have done so: The Golden Girls, Will and Grace and Schitt’s Creek.
3) A longer version of the show’s memorable theme song, “Those Were the Days,” with additional lyrics, was released as a single, and reached number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. And did you know that the show’s instrumental ending theme, “Remembering You,” actually has lyrics, written by Carroll O’Connor himself? By the way, that one lyric that you probably never understood in the opening theme is “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great,” referring to a long-defunct make of automobile.
2) All in the Family was the first major American TV series to be videotaped in front of a live studio audience; no laugh track was ever used. Due to its success, videotaping sitcoms in front of a live audience became the industry standard.
1) The chairs that Archie and Edith sat in during All in the Family’s run only cost a few dollars at a Goodwill store — but they’re now on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
By Andrea Dresdale
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