Sherman Hemsley, best known as George Jefferson on the hit sitcom The Jeffersons, died today at his home in El Paso, Texas. He was 74.
Sherman Hemsley was born on February 1, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and performed in several Broadway shows early in his career, including Purlie, a job that Hemsley was initially reluctant to give up when offered a role on Norman Lear’s All In The Family.”
Hemsley is most known for his infamous role as George Jefferson in that hit show, which later spun him off to star in The Jeffersons. Hemsley captured the heart of the nation as the successful and brash, yet reluctantly kind-hearted George Jefferson, alongside doting and patient wife Louise, or “Weezy,” played by Isabel Sanford, and sassy, back-talking housekeeper Florence, played by Marla Gibbs. Thought George Jefferson was just one of many characters Hemsley played throughout his long and successful career, it was his most famouns, though he also enjoyed a second successful run in the 1990s as church Deacon Ernest Frye, in the sitcom, Amen.
Aside from his early career on Broadway, Sherman Hemsley also spent some time as a professional singer, recording a 1989 funk single “Ain’t that a Kick in the Head”.
In the years since his heyday, Hemsley often made appearances in sitcoms and TV dramas, including Lois & Clark, The Hughleys and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. He also made a vocal cameo in an episode of Family Guy.
The legendary actor left behind no spouse or children. The cause of death is unknown at this time, though reports indicate it is likely due natural causes.