One of the best television programs ever made, All In The Family included teachings that I think are still applicable today. Sally Struthers happened to be one of the actors it propelled to success.
Although the attractive woman with the distinctive blonde hair today appears very different, she is still in the industry…
For many of us, Sally Struthers’ portrayal of Gloria Stivic in the 1970s sitcom All In The Family will forever be associated with her. The legendary program, which followed a working-class white family in Queens, New York, garnered an astounding 73 award nominations and 42 victories over the course of its existence.
However, I’m not sure if those who were born after the peak of the program can fully appreciate how revolutionary it was. Before it, there had been amusing sitcoms, but they hardly ever addressed taboos and societal issues. Many of those issues were used in All In The Family and were either made humorous, tragic, or both.
When you watch old episodes of the show on YouTube, it really brings back your youth, makes you laugh, and helps you forget about the current events. Many of the problems back then are still present now, they’re just presented in a funnier way.
Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton), Gloria Bunker-Stivic (Sally Struthers), Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner), and Stephanie Mills (Danielle Brisebois) are the primary characters in All In The Family. They all had a special chemistry with one another.
Sally Struthers was a tremendously underestimated and diverse actress, in my opinion. She would occasionally sing in some All In The Family episodes, and I could see how she changed throughout the course of the show.
“At first I behaved like an idiot on the set. I thought that was the way to get people to like me. I’ve been educated on the set. I’ve learned to be myself. And now, they respect me,” she told Longview Daily News in 1973.
When the series premiered in January 1971, Sally was a 22-year-old unknown with minimal TV experience. Producer Norman Lear, who was a “father of us all” according to Sally, discovered the talented actress when she was dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
Despite her lack of experience, Sally did great – just like the rest of the cast. Six months after the premiere, she was a certified star as All In The Family climbed to become the No.1 show on television.
At the height of her stardom, she could barely walk outside or go for dinner without being mobbed by fans. For an innocent 22-year-old, it was quite the challenging experience.
During the first seasons of the show, Sally was happy starring as Gloria Stivic. But the actress was rarely given a chance to develop the character or use her great acting to its full ability. During an All in the Family hiatus, she told producers that she wanted to switch to a more dramatic role.
“When we go on hiatus, I want to do something different,” she said.
”And there are so many ways to represent a woman. I would like to play a murderess and an unwed mother, and a nun, and an old Jewish mother. At the end of my career I’d like to have people say that I am as funny as Judy Holliday and to be as revered as Ruth Gordon.”
Of course, typecasting can be the death of one’s career – how often do you see someone rise to fame via an iconic show, only for all they do after to fall short?
Sadly, it was a bit like that for Sally.
She won two Emmy awards for her role as Gloria and was given the lead part in a couple of other shows after leaving All In The Family. But the truth was that she didn’t have a lot of offers – and work soon began to dry up for Sally.
In the 1990s she was a semi-regular panelist on the panel game show Match Game – others might recognize Sally as Babette Dell in Gilmore Girls.
As for now, she has been a regular at the Ogunquit Playhouse since the early 2000s. The regional theater is located in Ogunquit, Maine, and produces four or more shows each season.
In 2022, she also starred alongside AJ Holmes as Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.
The All In The Family star has also been putting a lot of effort into advocating on behalf of impoverished children in developing countries.
Sally has been a spokesperson for Christian Children’s Fund for many years, and has also appeared in their well-known TV commercials.
Many might know this, but Sally is a mother of one – though she never actually wanted a child initially.
After meeting famous psychiatrist William C. Rader, she changed her mind. The couple married in 1977, and two years later, they welcomed a daughter, Samantha.
“Before I met Bill, I never wanted a baby. I was always the first one to say that it wasn’t going to make me fulfilled, that I didn’t need a carbon copy of myself. Then you fall in love with someone,” Sally told People in 1981.
“And you want to be the mother of a child that is part of that man, the result of your loving each other.”
Sadly, her marriage didn’t last very long. In 1983, Sally and William C. Rader divorced and went on to live separate lives.
Their daughter chose to become a clinical psychologist instead of following in her mother’s career path, and she currently runs her own practice.
Samantha Struthers Rader is a very active user of social media, where she uploads pictures from her travels and offers advise.
However, it’s obvious that she has inherited some of her mother’s skills… when Samantha performs, her voice is just as beautiful as Sally’s.
Today, Sally Struthers is 75 years old and lives in Los Angeles.
She’s still active in the entertainment industry and has been working in theatres for the last 25 years. But she’s open to doing other things as well.
“I’m here. I’m a Los Angeles resident. I have been available. I don’t know why I am never asked to audition. I am never offered a job here. But, you give me Texas, you give me Maine, you give me Virginia, you give me New York, you give me Connecticut and there’s a job for me, always. They clamor to have me back the next year in something else,” she says.
Sally experienced ups and downs during the years. In 1996, two days before Christmas, her mother passed away in Sally’s arms as a result of Alzheimer’s. Over the years, Sally has also received derogatory remarks about her appearance and weight, the majority coming from unidentified users of social media.
But the actress has navigated all the obstacles with charm, integrity, and sense of humor.
“From the time I was able to walk and say a few words, my whole aim in life was to make people laugh,” she told Spectrum News in 2022.
“And when I hear other people laugh, and I know that some silly face I’ve made or some line reading causes them to double over, I’m transported to heaven. That’s my thing. Laughter.”
I’m not really clear why all the profanity and offensive remarks are required. Sally made us laugh for years, gives back to the community by volunteering her time to help underprivileged kids, and genuinely seems to care about other people.
Thank you for all the memories Sally! You look fantastic and seem like a great human being, and I hope you will continue to perform for a long time ahead!