Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Mike Evans Addendum

One addition to my post on the death of Mike Evans: here's an excerpt from the episode I was talking about, where Lionel Jefferson (Evans) finally tells Archie Bunker, without any irony or sarcasm, what he thinks of him -- that he considers Archie a friend but won't put up with his bigotry any more.

The scene is also a reminder that for the first three seasons, Lionel's father George never appeared on the show; instead his brother Henry (Mel Stewart) filled in for him in arguments with Archie. According to legend -- or the Wikipedia entry, which in today's culture is equivalent to a legend -- this was because Norman Lear didn't want anyone except Sherman Hemsley to play George, and was willing to wait until Hemsley was available to introduce George as a character.


Rob Bates said...

Hmmm ... According to John Rich's book, which I think you read because you referenced it in the other post, the plan was for George to remain a mysterious figure (a la Maris in Frasier.) But when the actor who played Henry Jefferson left the show, they decided to include George. According to Rich, Sherman Helmsley was a last minute replacement from a small theater touring company when Lear's first choice (a distinguished actor) didn't work out.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Yeah, I came across that after I wrote this post and didn't get around to changing it. Damn Wikipedia.

Rob Bates said...

That is on IMDB, too, for some reason. To be honest, the wikipedia explanation makes more sense -- "All in the Family" didn't do a lot of gimmicky stuff like have a characters that you never saw. But John Rich would know; he was there.