Carroll O'Connor almost quit All in the Family in 1977
We would've had to say goodbye to Archie if the actor's conditions weren't met.
Have you ever imagined what All in the Family would've been like without Archie? The thought probably never even crossed your mind, but it almost happened in 1977.
Carroll O'Connor wanted a few issues resolved before he stepped back into the role of Archie for the show's then-upcoming seventh season. No, it wasn't anything like gaining a bigger dressing room or not wanting to work with certain cast members.
According to an article in the Rutland Daily Herald in 1977, they were filming preferences that could affect working conditions.
The star didn't want to work before a live audience anymore. And he didn't want to work in front of three cameras or on tape. These were non-negotiables that O'Connor hoped Norman Lear would approve. If he didn't, the bright future of All in the Family would've been dimmed.
The article in the newspaper stated, "O'Connor has the trump card. His current contract expires at the end of this season. It is possible that the series would survive without him, with the focus [on Edith Bunker]." Yet, no one felt that the show would remain strong without the beloved character and actor.
O'Connor was willing to continue as Archie if his conditions were met.
"There is 80 percent less strain working with film," the actor told Rutland Daily Herald. "When you work live, it's like a new play every week. You really sweat up. When you do it on film, without an audience, you can take your time, redo scenes if necessary. The strain of the pace working with film is the editor's problem, not mine."
When O'Connor started, he actually thought audiences would loathe the content, but he agreed to be in it because he felt it had a substantial social significance.
"That's why I went into it in the first place," he added. "I thought it would flop. I figured the press would love it, but the public would hate it. It turned out just the other way around."
Obviously, his demands were met as All in the Family switched from filming live and in front of a studio audience. So O'Connor continued his role.
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Well that's a diplomatic way of putting it. As in, I'll take my share of the profit and reduce the workload. While most actors feel their better work is from pulling the audiences' energy. Which gives them a cue about comedic timing and pleasure from entertaining the audience. Lucille Ball certainly worked her tail off!
My guess is Carroll O'Connor didn't want to hear his jokes fall flat. Just a hunch. While another contributor said when they changed the format is when the ratings started going in the other direction.