The actress died in May, and Rob Reiner — who played Mike Stivic to her Edith Bunker — left the groundbreaking comedy series before its run ended to embark on a directing career that has yielded “Stand by Me,” ‘The Princess Bride,” “When Harry Met Sally … “ and “Misery,” among other movies.
In his tribute to Stapleton, who won three Emmys as Edith, Reiner recalled she also decided to leave shortly after the show morphed into “Archie Bunker’s Place.” Soon after that, producer Norman Lear decided to have Edith die, so as Reiner noted, Emmy night was “the second time we say goodbye to Edith Bunker.”
He added that as a performer, stage veteran Stapleton was “fearless, willing to try anything.” And he credited her with giving Edith many traits the character was so celebrated for: “the voice, brilliant comedic timing, and the ability to stand up to Archie (Edith’s famously bigoted husband, played by Carroll O’Connor) that could also break your heart.”
His own voice occasionally breaking, Reiner said his feeling upon learning of Stapleton’s passing mirrored what Archie said after Edith died: “You had no right to leave me that way, without giving me one more chance to say, ‘I love you.'”
And Reiner closed by also invoking the late O’Connor (who died in 2001) in saying, “Jean … Carroll … I love you.”