In Memoriam: Carroll O’Connor and John Lee Hooker
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RAY SUAREZ: Finally tonight, we remember two American artists: First, an actor who left an indelible mark on television.
EDITH: Songs that made the hit parade…
ARCHIE BUNKER: Guys like us we had it made…
EDITH AND ARCHIE SINGING: Those were the days…
RAY SUAREZ: Carroll O’Connor will be remembered most as Archie bunker, the ingeniously comic but bigoted Queens workingman of the 1970s television show “All in the Family.” The show ran for eight years, won a slew of awards, and became one of the most influential programs in TV history.
ARCHIE AND EDITH SINGING: Those were the days… ( Applause )
RAY SUAREZ: Archie had a bad word for everyone, from blacks, Jews and commies, to name a few of his targets, to his wife Edith, who Archie not so fondly called the dingbat.
EDITH: I’m sorry! I thought I was doing a good thing.
ARCHIE: Oh sure, good thing. That’s you all over, always doing good. Edith, you’re so good you never get mad at nobody, you never holler at nobody, you never swear, no nothing. You’re like a saint, Edith. You think it’s fun living with a saint? It ain’t! It ain’t at all! Look at this. You don’t even cheat to win. You cheat to lose! (Laughter ) I mean, Edith, you ain’t human!
EDITH: That’s a terrible thing to say. I’m just as human as you are.
ARCHIE: Prove you’re just as human as me. Do something rotten. (Laughter)
RAY SUAREZ: O’Connor built a television, Broadway, and movie career that spanned more than five decades. In the 1960s, he played a series of supporting roles in Hollywood films, including the 1963 movie “Cleopatra.”
CARROLL O’CONNOR: Your happiness is understandable enough. Now that Caesar has publicly recognized his son, one need no long wonder.
RAY SUAREZ: After “All in the Family,” he had a solid Emmy-winning run as the police chief on the television show “In the Heat of the Night,” and most recently played Minnie Driver’s father in the movie “Return to Me.”
CARROLL O’CONNOR: Save it, save it, save it for the Italians. I know you love me.
RAY SUAREZ: But it was Archie bunker who defined O’Connor. He and “all in the family” made its mark by testing limits, provoking controversy for blunt treatment of such thorny issues as the Vietnam War, religion, race and social justice. A frequent foil was his next door neighbor, George Jefferson.
GEORGE JEFFERSON: I see you are interested in the space program.
ARCHIE BUNKER: Yeah, that’s a genuine facsimile of the Apollo 14 insignia. That’s the thing that separates the U.S. of A., the red chinks and all them other losers. ( Laughter )
GEORGE JEFFERSON: You don’t think we got anything more important to do with $20 billion than to send a guy up on the moon to hit a few golf balls?
ARCHIE BUNKER: What’s more important than that?
GEORGE JEFFERSON: How about spending the money here on earth to fight poverty, create a few jobs?
ARCHIE BUNKER: Oh, you sound just like my son-in-law now.
GEORGE JEFFERSON: Your son-in-law’s black?
ARCHIE BUNKER: No! ( Laughter ) He’s only a Polack. (Laughter )
RAY SUAREZ: The Polack was Archie’s liberal son-in-law Michael Stivak, was played on the show by actor/director Rob Reiner.
ROB REINER, Actor/Director: Carroll O’Connor clearly created, I believe, the most indelible character in the history of American television.
RAY SUAREZ: O’Connor died of a heart attack Thursday. He was 76.
RAY SUAREZ: And now blues man John Lee Hooker. He was born to a sharecropper family in Mississippi and became a leading figure in the Mississippi Delta blues tradition. With his electric guitar and often growling voice, Hooker influenced several generations of rock and pop musicians, including the Rolling Stones, Carlos Santana, and Bonnie Raitt, many of whom ended up recording with him. Hooker received numerous lifetime awards in his later years. He estimated he’d made more than 100 albums. Here he is, solo, from a 1993 interview session. (Blues guitar playing )
JOHN LEE HOOKER: (playing guitar) This is about the flood. A long time ago — Tupelo, Mississippi — happened one Friday evening – (playing) — a dark cloud rose the people of Mississippi was out on their farms during their harvest — it began to rain — the poor people of Mississippi began to worry. It rained and it rained — both night and day – it rained and it rained. The people said, lord who can we turn to now? The women and there were children screaming and crying saying, Lord, have mercy. What can we do now? Who can we turn to? (Humming and playing guitar)
RAY SUAREZ: John Lee Hooker died yesterday in his sleep. He was 80.