‘All in the Family’: How Did Carroll O’Connor Die?

Carroll O’Connor, best known for playing the character Archie Bunker on All in the Family, died on June 21, 2001. How did O’Connor die? Here’s what Showbiz Cheat Sheet knows.

Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker on ‘All in the Family’

Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton on the set of 'All in the Family' in 1978 | Ron Eisenberg/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton on the set of ‘All in the Family’ in 1978 | Ron Eisenberg/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

All in the Family was based on the British comedy Till Death Us Do Part. The show ran for eight seasons from 1971 to 1979. Producers Norman Lear and Alan (“Bud”) Yorkin adapted the series for an American audience.

In addition to Archie Bunker, the Emmy-winning show featured the characters Edith (Jean Stapleton), Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner), and Gloria (Sally Struthers).

Archie, who was prejudiced and conservative, usually clashed with his liberal son-in-law, Mike. He often called Mike a “meathead.” Edith was passive and often looked the other way when Archie spoke negatively of other cultures. However, Mike would usually speak up and challenge Archie.

O’Connor said during a 1994 interview that he was nothing like his All in the Family character, reports the Los Angeles Times. However, he also said he would never play a better part than this role. “He was the best character, the most fulfilling character, and I never thought it was going to develop that way,” said O’Connor. “There’s no role that can top that.”

How did Carroll O’Connor die?

Jean Stapleton and Carroll O'Connor in 1972 | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Jean Stapleton and Carroll O’Connor in 1972 | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

O’Connor died at the age of 76 from a heart attack. Reiner told the Los Angeles Times he was shocked after hearing about his former co-star’s death.

“It was really shocking to me,” said Reiner. “It’s terrible and I feel horrible. I loved Carroll and he’s going to be missed. He created the most indelible character ever created in American TV.”

Reiner went on to say that he and O’Connor didn’t see a lot of each other over the years, but they had fond feelings toward each other. He also commented on All in the Family’s success and how O’Connor’s attention to quality led to the show being such a big hit with audiences, reports the publication.  

Roughly 12 years before his heart attack, O’Connor underwent sextuple heart bypass and gallbladder surgery. The actor’s health issue was detected during a routine medical exam and he was admitted for surgery shortly afterward, according to Associated Press. At the time he was filming scenes for his show In the Heat of the Night.

Carroll O’Connor’s movies and TV shows

Carroll O'Connor | Jack Mitchell/Getty Images
Carroll O’Connor | Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

O’Connor made his television acting debut in a 1951 TV movie titled The Whiteheaded Boy. He played the role of Donagh Brosnan. After that, he had an uncredited role as a truck driver in the 1958 film The Defiant Ones. From 1960 to 1961, O’Connor appeared in the television series Armstrong Circle Theatre.

O’Connor is also known for his appearances in Mad About You, Party of Five, In the Heat of the Night, and Archie Bunker’s Place. His last on-screen appearance was in the 2000 film Return to Me. He played the role of Marty O’Reilly.

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