Sherman Hemsley, ‘The Jeffersons’ star, dead at age 74
Sherman Hemsley, the actor best known for playing George Jefferson on the TV sitcom The Jeffersons, has died at the age of 74.
Starting his acting career on the stage, he moved to television when Norman Lear called and persuaded him to take a role on All in the Family. This role was of course, George Jefferson, who with wife Louise “Weezie” Jefferson (played by Isabel Sanford), were the neighbors of the Bunkers.
But in 1975, George and Weezie moved on up to their very own show. The Jeffersons had a very successful run, lasting for eleven seasons and 253 episodes. Not only was the show highly entertaining, it also made great strides in social progress. Several plots dealt with serious topics and the casting, particularly that of Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker as married neighbors of the Jeffersons, remains a great display of diversity on television.
For this role, Hemsley won an NAACP Image Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 1982, and was also nominated for an Emmy and Golden Globe. At the TV Land Awards in 2004, he and Sanford won in the category “Favorite Cantankerous Couple.”
When The Jeffersons ended, Hemsley followed it up with a starring role on the show Amen as Deacon Ernest Frye. Amen also had a good run of 110 episodes over five seasons. He also was on the show Dinosaurs throughout its run voicing B.P. Richfield, the boss of main character Earl Sinclair.
He has guest starred on shows of a wide variety, sometimes as George Jefferson. These include The Love Boat, The Incredible Hulk, Fantasy Island, Designing Women, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin, 227, The Twilight Zone, Lois & Clark, Soul Train, Family Matters, The Magic School Bus, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, All That, Family Guy, The Hughleys, Sister Sister, The Secret World of Alex Mack, and House of Payne, where he made his final performance (and as George Jefferson).
Hemsley has also had roles in numerous films, mostly comedies, such as Love at First Bite, Ghost Fever, Mr. Nanny, Senseless, Jane Austen’s Mafia!, Screwed, andAmerican Pie Presents: The Book of Love. He was also a musician, releasing an album of R&B music called Dance.
Although never married and never having any children, Hemsley will be greatly missed by television viewers.