Everything in the Sally Struthers family was brutally eliminated from another show

At the time, though, “McHale’s Navy” star and future “Carol Burnett Show” recurring actor Conway was a known entity, and Lear was not. “I went to read for this man that no one knew, Norman Lear,” Struthers explained. “He said it was the role of his daughter and gave me a scene where he screams.” According to Struthers, he made the deal with the show’s creator because of another happy accident: an illness that left the actor, known for his distinctive voice, with an even more recognizable voice than usual.

That day I had laryngitisso my voice was raspy, but I guess it made him remember me,” she said. “He narrowed it down to four young women, and I was one of the final four.” Book by Jim Cullins “Those were the days: Why All in the Family Still Matters” notes that it was Struthers’ appearance in “Smothers’ Brothers” that brought her to Lear’s fringes when “All in the Family” director John Rich told Lear to check on her after seeing the show.

“He auditioned with [co-star Rob Reiner] and it was another bolt of lightning,” Lear is quoted as saying in Cullins’ book. She would later describe the casting of her and Reiner, and their chemistry with the actors who played the Bunker’s parents, Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, as the “magician” who made the show work “The gods wanted me to meet Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers,” the late TV legend said Entertainment weekly in 2021. Struthers cites similar serendipity in his memory of joining the show, telling Newsday, “Very few people know that Rob Reiner and I were the third group of guys for that show. Talk about luck.”

He’s right: It was the series three pilot that finally put “All in the Family” on the air, and it seems like that might not have happened if Struthers hadn’t been dropped from her other gig.

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