All In The Family was one of the greatest shows ever, with lessons that I believe are still relevant today. It catapulted several actors to stardom – and Sally Struthers happened to be one of them.
Today, the beautiful woman with that signature blonde hair looks a lot different – but she’s still in the business…
A precocious talent
For many of us, Sally Struthers will always be remembered for her portrayal of Gloria Stivic in the ’70s sitcom All In The Family. The iconic show was about a working-class white family living in Queens, New York, and received an astonishing 73 award nominations and 42 wins during its run.
But I’m not sure if people born after the show’s heyday can properly grasp how ground-breaking it was. There had been funny sitcoms before that, but they rarely, barely touched on social issues and taboos. All In The Family took many of those issues and made them funny, or heartbreaking, or both.
Watching old episodes of the show on YouTube really makes you feel young again; makes you laugh, takes your mind off things that are happening today. A lot of the issues back then are the same ones we have today, only presented in a comical way.
The main characters in All In The Family are Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), Edith Bunker (Jean Stapleton), Gloria Bunker-Stivic (Sally Struthers), Michael Stivic (Rob Reiner), and Stephanie Mills (Danielle Brisebois) – they all had magic chemistry between them.
In my opinion, Sally Struthers was very underrated and versatile as an actress. She occasionally sang in some episodes of All In The Family – and I could see how she developed during the course of the series.
“At first I behaved like an idiot on the set. I thought that was the way to get people to like me. I’ve been educated on the set. I’ve learned to be myself. And now, they respect me,” she told Longview Daily News in 1973.
When the series premiered in January 1971, Sally was a 22-year-old unknown with minimal TV experience. Producer Norman Lear, who was a “father of us all” according to Sally, discovered the talented actress when she was dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
Despite her lack of experience, Sally did great – just like the rest of the cast. Six months after the premiere, she was a certified star as All In The Family climbed to become the No.1 show on television.
At the height of her stardom, she could barely walk outside or go for dinner without being mobbed by fans. For an innocent 22-year-old, it was quite the challenging experience.
During the first seasons of the show, Sally was happy starring as Gloria Stivic. But the actress was rarely given a chance to develop the character or use her great acting to its full ability. During an All in the Family hiatus, she told producers that she wanted to switch to a more dramatic role.
“When we go on hiatus, I want to do something different,” she said.
”And there are so many ways to represent a woman. I would like to play a murderess and an unwed mother, and a nun, and an old Jewish mother. At the end of my career I’d like to have people say that I am as funny as Judy Holliday and to be as revered as Ruth Gordon.”
Of course, typecasting can be the death of one’s career – how often do you see someone rise to fame via an iconic show, only for all they do after to fall short?
Sadly, it was a bit like that for Sally.
She won two Emmy awards for her role as Gloria and was given the lead part in a couple of other shows after leaving All In The Family. But the truth was that she didn’t have a lot of offers – and work soon began to dry up for Sally.
In the 1990s she was a semi-regular panelist on the panel game show Match Game – others might recognize Sally as Babette Dell in Gilmore Girls.
As for now, she has been a regular at the Ogunquit Playhouse since the early 2000s. The regional theater is located in Ogunquit, Maine, and produces four or more shows each season.
In 2022, she also starred alongside AJ Holmes as Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.
The All In The Family star has also been putting a lot of effort into advocating on behalf of impoverished children in developing countries.
Sally has been a spokesperson for Christian Children’s Fund for many years, and has also appeared in their well-known TV commercials.
Sally Struthers daughter
Many might know this, but Sally is a mother of one – though she never actually wanted a child initially.
After meeting famous psychiatrist William C. Rader, she changed her mind. The couple married in 1977, and two years later, they welcomed a daughter, Samantha.
“Before I met Bill, I never wanted a baby. I was always the first one to say that it wasn’t going to make me fulfilled, that I didn’t need a carbon copy of myself. Then you fall in love with someone,” Sally told People in 1981.
“And you want to be the mother of a child that is part of that man, the result of your loving each other.”
Sadly, her marriage didn’t last very long. In 1983, Sally and William C. Rader divorced and went on to live separate lives.
Their daughter didn’t follow in her mom’s footsteps – instead, she became a clinical psychologist, and today has her own practice.
Samantha Struthers Rader is also very active on social media, where she posts advice and shares photos from her travels.
Yet it’s clear that she’s inherited some of her mother’s talents… sometimes Samantha shows off her incredible singing talent, and her voice sounds just as good as Sally’s.
Sally Struthers today
Today, Sally Struthers is 75 years old and lives in Los Angeles.
She’s still active in the entertainment industry and has been working in theatres for the last 25 years. But she’s open to doing other things as well.
“I’m here. I’m a Los Angeles resident. I have been available. I don’t know why I am never asked to audition. I am never offered a job here. But, you give me Texas, you give me Maine, you give me Virginia, you give me New York, you give me Connecticut and there’s a job for me, always. They clamor to have me back the next year in something else,” she says.
Over the years, Sally had her ups and downs. She lost her mother to Alzheimer’s in 1996 – she passed away in Sally’s arms two days before Christmas. Sally has also received mean comments about her looks and weight over the years, mostly from random people on social media.
But the actress has navigated all the obstacles with charm, integrity, and sense of humor.
“From the time I was able to walk and say a few words, my whole aim in life was to make people laugh,” she told Spectrum News in 2022.
“And when I hear other people laugh, and I know that some silly face I’ve made or some line reading causes them to double over, I’m transported to heaven. That’s my thing. Laughter.”
I’m not really sure why all the cursing and nasty comments are necessary. Sally gave us years of laughter; she contributes to society by donating her time to children in need and really does seem like a genuinely caring human being.
Thank you for all the memories Sally! You look fantastic and seem like a great human being, and I hope you will continue to perform for a long time ahead!