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Archie Bunker Chair - Amidst the millions of objects at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. are two chairs that once belonged to the blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) and his "Dingbat" wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) from the sitcom ALL IN THE FAMILY/CBS/1971-79.

Archie and Edith's chairs - Stored at the Smithsonian Insitution
Archie and Edith's Chairs

The Bunker chairs were, in a way, ersatz thrones where Archie reigned as the King of his Castle, and Edith to his right served as his Queen and housewife.

Archie's rickety, high-back wing chair was the bigger of the two and was a bone of contention between Archie and Mike Stivic, Archie's "Meathead" son-in-law (Rob Reiner) who competed to sit on it. But, in the end, Archie won the battle and nestled his butt into the well-worn cushion of his favorite easy chair.

From his regal roost Archie issued such commands as "Edith, get me a beer" and "Shut up, Meathead!" On occasion, Archie offered up his chair to a special guest like a old WWII buddy or a visiting celebrity like Sammy Davis, Jr.

On the episode "Archie's Chair" (aired January 15, 1977) Mike Stivic accidentally broke Archie's chair. Frantic to fix it, Mike sent the chair to Kressler's furniture repair but it was mistakenly sold to artist/sculptor Elvin Lichtenrausch, who incorporated the American Gothic chair into a modern art display replete with table and swirled rainbow backdrop.

It was on this episode that viewers learned that the stain's on the chair were made by Schlitz Beer. Of course, the chair (with loose stuffing and shot springs) was retrieved for the price or $400. The chair was being sold for $2500-3000.

TRIVIA NOTE: When the show's producer Norman Lear thought ALL IN THE FAMILY was ending after the eighth season, he donated the chair to the Smithsonian (National Museum of American History Behring Center) on September 18, 1978 through the efforts of Indiana Democratic Representative John Brademas, an ALL IN THE FAMILY devotee.

When Lear discovered the show was renewed for a ninth season, he had to spend thousands of dollars to have replicas made for the next season. The original chairs had been purchased from a Goodwill Store for about $8 by the prop department.

On episode No. 111 "Et Tu Dante" of the syndicated action adventure TEAM KNIGHT RIDER/SYN/1997 F.L.A.G. agent Kyle Stewart (Brixton Karnes) destroys Archie Bunker's chair while searching for a bomb planted by a madman who is destroying Washington landmarks.

If you see a chair or piece of furnishing on a TV show that looks enticing and you just have to have one, try contacting "Props for Today," a 100,000 square foot Manhattan furniture warehouse which rents furniture to TV set designers for such shows as COSBY, GUIDING LIGHT, LAW & ORDER and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and sells duplicates (and sometimes the original) of such items to the public.

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