Six months before Sammy Davis Jr. hugged Richard Nixon at the Republican National Convention, he kissed America’s most lovable bigot. Davis’s guest appearance on All in the Family in February 1972 raised the groundbreaking sitcom’s level of racial repartee to new heights.
In “Sammy’s Visit,” Davis comes to Archie Bunker’s home to retrieve a briefcase he left in Archie’s cab. The script captures the mixed feelings someone like Davis might elicit from someone like Archie: Respect (Archie lets Davis sit in his chair) and awkwardness (the classic gaffe, “Do you take cream and sugar in your eye?”) mingle with prejudice (Archie refuses to drink a toast from a glass that has touched Davis’s lips).
“If you were prejudiced, you’d go around thinking you’re better than anyone else in the world, Archie,” says Davis. “But I can honestly say you’ve proven to me that you ain’t better than anybody!” This dis is followed by that kiss — planted on a startled Archie. Davis, incidentally, was a huge AITF fan; he considered his guest shot here as thrilling as his first big break in showbiz.
“I loved the statement this episode made,” recalls Jean Stapleton, who played Archie’s wife, Edith. “Sammy Davis Jr. was great. I’ve always had doubts about the use of a real-life person in a fictitious story, in terms of playwriting. But the whole thing worked, and that surprised me and opened my mind.”
Original Airdate: February 19, 1972