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Archie Bunker Gets Romantic

Connor_cu_during_filming_3Most people know Caroll O’Connor from his portrayal of tough guy Archie Bunker on All in the Family but he worked on the big screen too, starring in over 30 films. With Return to Me , he reveals a decidedly softer side than the bigoted dock worker that made him famous. 

Here he plays Marty O’Reilly, a loving grandfather whose co-owner of an Irish-Italian restaurant. (He’s the Irish part.) It’s a role Bonnie Hunt (pictured here with O’Connor) wrote with the actor in mind in part because of her dad’s love for All in the Family.  But Marty is no misanthrope from Queens.  When he comforts his granddaughter he says, "It’s the character that’s the strongest that God gives the most challenges to," whereas Archie would have said to his wife, "If God gets sore enough at you Edith, he could turn your jawbone into an ass."  The difference seems clear.  You won’t find Marty calling his future grandson-in-law (David Duchovny) a Meathead.  Suddenly, the sweetly nostalgic rendition of the TV theme song "Those Were the Days" all makes sense. He was singing about life in the movies.

O’Connor died in 2001, the year after the film was released at the age of 76. You can see his swan song tonight at 8 p.m. EST.

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