It’s been called “the kiss of infamy.” Sure, there have been many great on-screen kisses over the years — Scarlett and Rhett in Gone with the Wind, Milton and Karen in From Here to Eternity, Winnie and Kevin on The Wonder Years … but the most unexpected and down-right hilarious kiss of all time, at least on the small-screen, has to be that between Sammy Davis Jr. and Archie Bunker on the “Sammy’s Visit” episode of All in the Family.
The February 19, 1972 show featured Archie Bunker moonlighting as a cab driver who had Sammy Davis Jr. as a passenger in his cab one night. Davis left his briefcase in the car and Archie arranges for Davis to come to the Hauser Street house to retrieve the case. The two discuss how Archie’s daughter and son-in-law think he’s prejudiced, and the exchange ends with Davis wanting a picture with Archie. On the count of three, Davis kisses Archie on the cheek, garnering one of the biggest laughs and most memorable moments in TV history:
According to director John Rich, Davis’ appearance on the show stems from Davis expressing an interest in coming on All in the Family during a guest spot on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Writer Bill Dana pitched to All in the Family co-creator Norman Lear a plausible way for Davis to end up in Archie Bunker’s house, but Lear was originally wary, not wanting a big-name entertainer to shift the emphasis of the show. Dana’s premise was believable, though, and his script ultimately highlighted both Archie’s bigotry and the show’s clever sense of sarcasm:
Davis was worried about having to memorize the dialogue for his part and wanted to use cue cards, but Rich wanted Davis to act under the same conditions as the other cast members:
Thanks to all involved with the episode for bringing the “Ace of Spades” and the “whitest man he knows” together for a truly genius Kodak moment. Smile, Archie!
Read more about the famous episode, which placed 13th on TV Guide’s list of “The 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time,” at our “Sammy’s Visit” show page.
- by Adrienne Faillace