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article imageJean Stapleton, TV's Edith Bunker, dies at 90

By Layne Weiss     Jun 1, 2013 in Entertainment
New York - Jean Stapleton, best known for starring as Edith Bunker on the 1970s sitcom All in the Family, has died at the age of 90.
Stapleton died Friday of natural causes in her New York City home. She was surrounded by friends and family, The Associated Press reports.
"It is with great love and heavy hearts that we say farewell to our collective Mother, with a capital M," said her son and daughter John Putch and Pamela Putch in a statement. "Her devotion to her craft and her family taught us all great life lessons."
Stapleton grew up on Long Island. Her mother was an opera singer and her father was a businessman. She began her career in theater during the early 1940s while working as a typist for the British War Ministry, CNN reports.
She starred in the Broadway production In The Summer House in 1953 and made her television debut that same year on the daytime drama Woman With a Past. She also starred in Bells Are Ringing and "Damn Yankees."
She was best known for her role as Edith Bunker opposite Carroll O'Connor's Archie in the 70's sitcom "All in The Family."
The show also starred Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner. O'Connor died of a heart attack in 2001.
Stapleton received eight Emmy nominations and won three times during her eight year run as Edith Bunker, The AP reports.
"I just loved doing it from the very beginning," Stapleton told CNN in 2001 following Carroll O'Connor's death.
While All In The Family was a sitcom, it tackled a variety of social issues such as life, death, racism, sexuality, and health, CNN reports. For instance, Edith Bunker, Stapleton's character revealed during one of the episodes that she had breast cancer.
"No one gave more profound 'How to be a human being' lessons than Jean Stapleton." All In the Family producer Norman Lear said Saturday according to The AP. Rob Reiner added, "Jean was a brilliant comedienne with exquisite timing. Working with her was one of the greatest experiences of my life."
Stapleton also earned Emmy nominations for her role as Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1982 film "Eleanor, First Lady of the World", and for a 1995 guest appearance on the sitcom "Grace Under Fire."
Her resume also included big screen roles in Nora Ephron's films "You've Got Mail" and "Michael." Most people probably don't know, but The AP reports that Stapleton turned down a chance to star in the popular mystery television show "Murder, She Wrote." That role went to Angela Lansbury.
"I wasn't the leading lady type," she once told The AP, perhaps in an attempt to explain her decision. "I knew where I belonged. And actually, I found character work much more interesting than leading ladies.
"In her own words, she was 'an actress not a celebrity,' it reads in her obituary, according to CNN. "The play always came first."
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