"Stretch" Cunningham (James Cromwell) visits Archie at home in a season 5 episode of All in the Family.
|Dock worker with Archie at Pendergast Tool & Die Co.|
|Tall, dumb, jovial, always-joking buddy of Archie's who traded ethnic jokes with him in the workplace.|
|Appeared on:||All in the Family|
|Episodes appeared in:||"The Bunkers and Inflation (Part 4 of 4)" |
"Archie is Missing"
"Archie and the Miracle"
|Character played by:||James Cromwell (season 5), Billy Sands (season 3 voice)|
Jerome "Stretch" Cunningham, described by Archie as "The Funniest Man in the World", was Archie's friend and co-worker at Pendergast Tool & Die Company (Archie claimed that at work, he was known as "the Bob Hope of the loading platform"). The part of Stretch was played by James Cromwell in three episodes of season 5 of All in the Family: "The Bunkers and Inflation (Part 4)", "Archie is Missing" and "Archie and the Miracle".
Stretch the Character
Always a practical joker, Stretch was not one who was above using gag gifts such as the exploding cigar or a hand buzzer, which he once used on buddy Archie. The two also christened another employee at work - the buxom blonde Mildred Turner - as "Boom Boom", a metaphorical nickname that suggested how her large breasts would bounce up-and-down in a rhythmic motion when she walked by, much like the *boom* of a steady drumbeat.
In season 7, episode 19 ("Stretch Cunningham, Goodbye"), the character dies (off-screen) of a heart attack. As one of Stretch's closest associates, Archie is requested by the deceased's family to deliver the eulogy at the funeral service. When Archie and Edith show up at the funeral home, he is shocked to discover the truth about Stretch's religious background. Archie, who used to trade ethnic jokes all the time with Stretch at work, had no clue that Stretch was a Jew.
Archie: "Stretch? Jewish? With a name like Cunningham?"
Edith: "Oh well, Archie...what's in a name?"
Archie: "A Jewish name ain't supposed to have no 'ham' in it."
Archie switches from his prepared remarks - based on this revelation - to an impromptu speech of anecdotes. His heartfelt, extemporaneous tribute to his friend is often referred to as a rare occasion where he was capable of showing the humanity he so earnestly tried to hide.