'Family' Star Carroll O'Connor, 76, Dies

updated 06/22/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/22/2001 01:00AM

Carroll O'Connor, 76, who trained for Shakespearean roles yet who will always be remembered as TV's most famously lovable bigot, died in a Culver City, Calif., hospital on Thursday of a heart attack, complicated by diabetes. O'Connor won five Emmys for his work, four of them for playing Archie Bunker on the groundbreaking CBS sitcom "All in the Family." On the show, Archie called his devoted wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), a "dingbat"; his son-in-law, Mike (Rob Reiner), a "dumb Polack"; and his daughter, Gloria (Sally Struthers), "little girl." What the Cleavers and the Nelsons were to the '50s, the Bunkers were to the '70s. O'Connor also won a 1989 Emmy for "In the Heat of the Night," the NBC series on which he played a small-town Southern sheriff. Married to his college sweetheart since 1951, the former Nancy Fields, O'Connor had one son, Hugh, who was adopted in 1962. But Hugh developed a drug problem at the height of his father's fame on TV and ultimately shot himself, in 1995. He was 32. The death inspired O'Connor to launch an anti-drug crusade.

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