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Mourners Say Farewell to Carroll O’Connor

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mourners on Tuesday gave actor Carroll O’Connor a final round of applause as his funeral ended, saluting a man whose career blazed trails in television and drug-abuse awareness, but who mostly will be remembered for his portrayal of Archie Bunker.

At a solemn Catholic Mass at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westwood, hundreds of Hollywood figures and community leaders gathered under a bright midday sun to honor the memory of O’Connor, who died of heart failure Thursday at 76.

“He was a good man, a good Christian and a good friend,” said Father Harold Powers, a longtime friend. “Looking down on us now, he’s delighted at the gathering, and maybe surprised a little bit.”

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony led the service.

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Among those attending were former cast members of the TV show “All in the Family,” in which O’Connor played the forthright bigot Bunker and endeared himself to millions of viewers during the show’s lengthy run in the 1970s. One of the readings in the Mass was delivered by actor Martin Sheen.

Powers said O’Connor was the exact opposite of Archie Bunker, but was committed to playing the character because “he saw this as a role that could attack bigotry.”

He added that the Emmy Award-winning actor was devoutly religious, more so after his wife Nancy converted to Catholicism and after the death of his son Hugh, who committed suicide in 1995 after a 16-year struggle with drug addiction.

“Carroll didn’t take faith lightly. He depended on faith to get him through his son’s death,” he said.

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O’Connor became an anti-drug advocate while pressing a case that resulted in drug convictions on two counts for a man who sold drugs to his son.

News camera crews arrived at the church as early as 6 a.m. Tuesday to cover the funeral, prompting Los Angeles police to block off sections of Selby Avenue in Westwood to make way for arriving guests.

O’Connor’s body will be cremated, a family spokesman said. His ashes will be interred at Westwood Mortuary.


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