Una Stubbs, the British actress who died in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Thursday at age 84, may be best known to modern audiences for her role as Sherlock Holmes’ landlady, Mrs. Hudson, on the Benedict Cumberbatch-led series “Sherlock.”
But she had her breakout role in the long-running BBC sitcom “Till Death Do Us Part,” which ran for seven seasons between 1965-75 and inspired Norman Lear’s classic American hit “All in the Family.”
In “Till Death Do Us Part,” Stubbs played the Sally Struthers role — the left-leaning daughter of a reactionary white working-class father (played by Warren Mitchell) who regularly clashes with the Liverpool socialist husband of Stubbs’ character (played by Anthony Booth).
In a 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lear recalled how his partner, Bud Yorkin, tipped him off about “Till Death Do Us Part” while shooting a film in London in the late 1960s. “’Holy s—, I’ve lived through that,'” Lear recalled telling Yorkin. “My father used to call me the laziest white kid he ever met, and then dumb because I didn’t understand. I’d scream at him that he didn’t have to put down a race of people to call his son lazy. He’d shout, ‘That’s not what I’m doing!’ So, I heard the description of this series and thought, Why can’t that be an American show? My partner then contacted the British agent who handled Johnny Speight, that show’s creator. She called me up and asked if I’d like the rights and I grabbed them.”
“All in the Family” became an immediate hit when it premiered in 1971 and made a star of Carroll O’Connor as the working-class patriarch Archie Bunker. Jean Stapleton played his mousey wife, Struthers his strident liberal daughter and Rob Reiner as the daughter’s “meathead” of a husband. All four stars won Primetime Emmy Awards for their work on the show, which ran for nine seasons.
Stubbs started her career as a dancer before transitioning to acting, and she got her big break on the series “Till Death Us Do Part” in the ’60s, as well as returning for a follow-up in the ’80s “Till Death and In Sickness and Health.” She was also a regular on the English game show “Don’t Say a Word” and a follow-up show “Give Us a Clue.”
“Mum passed away quietly today with her family around her, in Edinburgh. We ask for privacy and understanding at this most difficult and sad of times,” her family said in a statement to TheWrap.