Sally Struthers - Sally Struthers Remembers Onscreen Mum Jean Stapleton
Sally Struthers has paid a touching tribute to late actress Jean Stapleton, calling her former onscreen mother "a walking, living angel".
The All in the Family matriarch died on 31 May (13) at the age of 90, and her Tv daughter has spoken out to share her fond memories of the star.
Struthers tells TvGuide.com she last saw Stapleton when she visited her at her New York apartment, which she reveals was painted "buttery yellow" and was just as "cheery and happy as Jean was".
She adds, "This is the first I've been able to talk without crying... Jean lived so in the present. She was a Christian Scientist who didn't say or think a negative thing. I have been her friend for 43 years and in all those years never once heard her angry, say a swear word or anything negative about another human being. I saw her delicately and brilliantly bow out of conversations that were turning in a negative direction. She was just a walking, living angel."
The actress also reveals Stapleton gave her plenty of motherly guidance, recalling, "When my contract was up on All in the Family after my eight years, I decided not to renew... Jean left the following year. As I was leaving I remember saying to her, 'I hope this isn't the biggest mistake of my life,' and she said, 'Oh Sally darling, you started in the theatre. It doesn't much matter what happens in this world of television or film, the theatre will always welcome you back with open arms because it's your home.' And of course I was away doing theatre when I heard about her passing. I had just been up to visit a mountain and I was coming down the mountain when my phone rang with someone telling me that she was gone. I thought, 'Well, I suppose having just sat at the top of a mountain looking at beautiful scenery for an hour, this is a peaceful time for me to hear this.'"