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Sally Struthers Joined All In The Family After Being Brutally Dropped From Another Show – SlashFilm

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At the time, though, “McHale’s Navy” star and future “Carol Burnett Show” recurring player Conway was a known entity, and Lear wasn’t. “I went to read for this man nobody knew, Norman Lear,” Struthers explained. “He said it was the role of the daughter, and he gave me a yelling scene.” According to Struthers, she struck a chord with the show’s creator due to another happy accident: an illness that left the actor, known for her distinctive voice, with even more recognizable vocals than usual.

“I had laryngitis that day, so my voice was raspy, but I guess it made him remember me,” she said. “He narrowed it down to four young ladies, and I was one of the final four.” Jim Cullins’ book “Those Were the Days: Why All in the Family Still Matters” notes that it was Struthers’ “Smothers’ Brothers” appearance that got her in Lear’s periphery when “All in the Family” director John Rich told Lear to check her out after catching the show.

“She auditioned with (co-star Rob Reiner) and it was another bolt of lightning,” Lear is quoted as saying in Cullins’ book. He’d later describe her and Reiner’s casting, and their chemistry with the actors playing the Bunker parents, Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, as the “magic” that made the show work. “The gods wanted me to come across Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers,” the late TV legend told Entertainment Weekly in 2021. Struthers cites a similar serendipity in her own memory of joining the show, telling Newsday: “Very few people know that Rob Reiner and I were the third set of kids for that show. Talk about luck.” 

She’s right: it was the third series pilot that finally got “All in the Family” on the air, and it sounds like it might not have happened at all if Struthers hadn’t been canned from her other gig.

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