Jean Stapleton, Edith Bunker in All in the Family, dies at 90

Jun 3, 2013 at 3:09 a.m. ET

Jean Stapleton didn't gain fame until later in life, when she left us a character that has been copied dozens of times. But no one else could ever be Edith Bunker.

Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker

Iconic television actress Jean Stapleton will forever be remembered as Edith Bunker in All in the Family, but she has been on our TV screens for four decades. Stapleton passed away Friday at the age of 90.

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Stapleton didn't get her big break until she landed the role of Bunker at the age of 48. However, according to Robert Lloyd with the Los Angeles Times, she had been acting in theater, TV and movies for 30 years when she got that role. All in the Family premiered in 1971 and was the No. 1 TV show in America for five years.

Stapleton starred opposite Carroll O'Connor and won three Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes in that part.

According to Lloyd, Stapleton's character may have been the most important to the series. Edith Bunker was the one who kept the family together, while making them accountable for their actions.

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Stapleton left the show in 1980, after it was transformed into Archie Bunker’s Place.

"I wasn't a leading-lady type," she previously told Associated Press, according to Lloyd. "I knew where I belonged."

Stapleton also appeared in movies like You’ve Got Mail and Michael and TV shows like Grace Under Fire, Caroline in the City and Everybody Loves Raymond. Her true love was theater though, and she performed in many plays over the years.

Celebrities shared their grief over the loss of Stapleton.

Bette Midler tweeted, "Jean Stapleton, beloved as Edith in ALL IN THE FAMILY dies at 90. She was unforgettable in that in peace..."

Rob Reiner, who starred with Stapleton in All in the Family, released a statement on her passing.

"Jean was a brilliant comedienne with exquisite timing," Reiner said, according to CNN. "Working with her was one of the greatest experiences of my life."

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"So, at 90, here still is Jean Stapleton, 'always where she is,' helping me to see my own frailties and humanity yet again," Norman Lear, producer and director of All in the Family, told CNN. "No one gave more profound 'How to be a human being' lessons than Jean Stapleton. Goodbye Edith, darling."

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