Jean Stapleton (born Jeanne Murray, January 19, 1923 in New York City, New York) is an American character actress of stage, television and film. Stapleton is best known for her portrayal of Edith Baines Bunker, the long-suffering, yet devoted wife of Archie Bunker (played by Carroll O'Connor) and mother of Gloria Bunker-Stivic (played by Sally Struthers), on the 1970s situation comedy All in the Family. She was also seen in the All in the Family sequel Archie Bunker's Place, but left that show after one season. In 1982, Jean portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in a television production of the First Lady's later life. Critics noticed the slight physical resemblance between the two women, which worked to the program's advantage. In 1998, and for a few years afterward, Stapleton took her "Eleanor" characterization to live theaters, now adapted as a one-woman show.
Stapleton's awards for All in the Family include three Emmys and two Golden Globes. Jean was offered a role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but declined because it coincided with the production of the All in the Family pilot. Even before All in the Family, she had guest starred in many television series, including the role of Rosa Criley in the 1963 episode "The Bride Wore Pink" on NBC's medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour.
Stapleton has also acted in made-for-TV movies and feature films such as Klute, which starred Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, the zany comedy Cold Turkey and the Faerie Tale Theatre episode Cinderella as the fairy godmother. She also had a recurring role on TV's Scarecrow and Mrs. King as a British spy. She also stared in the educational series Beakman's World in the role of Beakmom.
In 1996 she played the role of the eccentric rooming house owner, Pansy Milbank in Nora Ephron's Michael, the story of the return of archangel Michael. Stapleton also appeared in the 1999 movie You've Got Mail as a close co-worker in whom Meg Ryan's character confides. She is said to have declined the lead on Murder, She Wrote with the role eventually going to Angela Lansbury. Reprising her 1996 angelic theme, Stapleton performed in Touched By An Angel as an angel named Emma.
In 1998, Stapleton guest-starred in the Jean Smart sit-com, Style & Substance, playing a former television chef who has since "lost her marbles". She co-starred in Bagdad Cafe with Whoopi Goldberg, the TV series based on the movie of the same name.
On June 21, 2001, though Stapleton was devastated to hear that her series' star, Carroll O'Connor, had died, she was the only All in the Family star not to attend his funeral, because of a commitment on stage.
Stapleton's husband, William H. Putch, with whom she had two children, (actor/writer/director John Putch and actress Pamela Putch), died in 1983. Her husband directed a summer stock theater, Totem Pole Playhouse, at Caledonia State Park in Pennsylvania for 30 years. Stapleton performed occasionally at the theatre with the resident company.