Carroll O'Connor

Carroll O'Connor
Los Angeles Times


Carroll O'Connor
TV: South side of the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Aug. 2, 1924 in Bronx, N.Y.
Died June 21, 2001 of heart attack in Brotman Medical Center, Calif.

Carroll O'Connor was an Emmy-winning actor best known for his iconic role as Archie Bunker in the groundbreaking 1970s television comedy "All in the Family."

Widely considered to be among the greatest and most influential of television comedies, "All in the Family" and the character of Bunker — a lovable, conservative bigot loosely modeled after series creator Norman Lear's own father — established O'Connor as a major television star.

O'Connor played Bunker for 13 seasons, with "All in the Family" becoming "Archie Bunker's Place" a decade into that run, after the departure of the show's other major cast members.

A self-described liberal, O'Connor said in a 1994 interview that the character of Archie "wasn't even close" to who he was as a person. Still, he conceded, "I'll never play a better part than Archie. He was the best character, the most fulfilling character, and I never thought it was going to develop that way. There's no role that can top that."

Despite his enduring recognition as Archie, O'Connor was among those rare television performers to star in another hit series. "In the Heat of the Night"—a drama that premiered in 1988, based on the 1967 Oscar-winning film — cast him as Bill Gillespie, the sheriff in Sparta, Miss.

In 1995, O'Connor experienced a personal tragedy when his son Hugh, who had struggled with cocaine addiction, committed suicide.

O'Connor began a crusade to see the man who sold Hugh the drugs, Harry Perzigian, charged with a crime, and Perzigian was convicted on two drug counts in 1996. A month later, Perzigian filed a defamation lawsuit against O'Connor, though a jury ultimately found in O'Connor's favor.

Before "All in the Family," the New York native had appeared in a string of films throughout the 1960s, among them the World War II epics "In Harm's Way" and "The Devil's Brigade."

His versatility also won him roles opposite Kirk Douglas in "Lonely Are the Brave" (1962) and the famous "Cleopatra," released the following year.

Among his various honors, O'Connor was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1990.

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