Jean Stapleton died Friday, May 31 at the age of 90. She appeared at the Alley Theatre in 2001 in the world premiere of Horton Foote’sThe Carpetbagger’s Children and at Lincoln Center in New York the following year. Best known for her portrayal of Edith Bunker on the groundbreaking television series All in the Family, she was also an accomplished theatre actress with roles in the original Broadway productions of Damn Yankees, Bells Are Ringing, and Funny Girl.
“We’re tremendously saddened by Jean’s passing” says Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd. “While she was best known for her role in All in the Family, she was committed to the theatre and the Alley Theatre was fortunate to have her on our stage. Jean was the consummate theatre artist – always interested in every aspect of the life of the theatre. She visited rehearsals of shows she wasn't performing in, was intensely involved and appreciative of all the work of each staff member in the many shops at the Alley. I remember her spending an hour in the prop shop looking over the work assembled for The Carpetbagger’s Children. She and Horton had come up in a great period of the American theatre and both of them shared their rich experiences so generously with all the young artists at the Alley. And she was undaunted, the way all genuine artists are, when challenges arose. Tropical Storm Allison caused the shut-down of the production she was performing in, just as the run was beginning, and she was an inspiration as we moved to re-work the staging to accommodate a new space for the work. In the time it takes to tell it, the whole cast – Roberta Maxwell, Hallie Foote and Jean had worked with Michael Wilson and Jeff Cowie, the scenic designer, to reconfigure Horton's play for audiences who very much needed to see that beautiful work, at a time the whole city was reeling. I'll always remember her generosity of spirit alongside her great gifts as an actor. She was beautiful.”
Photo captions (top to bottom):
1. (Left to Right) Jean Stapleton, Hallie Foote, and Roberta Maxwell in the Alley Theatre’s world premiere of Horton Foote’s The Carpetbagger’s Children. Photo by T. Charles Erickson. 2. The cast of the Alley Theatre’s production of Horton Foote’s The Carpetbagger’s Children (Left to Right: Jean Stapleton, Hallie Foote and Roberta Maxwell) with playwright Horton Foote. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.