Monday, November 21, 2011

George Jefferson from the TV Show The Jeffersons - Sherman Hemsley

Sherman Hemsley was born February 1, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He is most famous for playing the role of George Jefferson first on All In the Family as Archie Bunker's neighbor, and then in his own show based on the same character, The Jeffersons.

Sherman Hemsley starred as George Jefferson in the TV comedy The Jeffersons

After Sherman left the U.S. Air Force, he worked as a postal worker while taking acting lessons. He got his acting start on the stage in 1970 on Broadway starring in Purlie along with Cleavon Little, Melba Moore, and John Heffernan.

In 1973, Hemsley landed the regular role of George Jefferson on the TV show All In the Family.  He was the neighbor of cranky Archie Bunker.  He co-starred with Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker), Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker), Sally Struthers (Gloria Bunker-Stivic), Rob Reiner (Michael Stivic aka "Meathead"), and Isabel Sanford (Louise Jefferson).  He appeared in fifteen episodes of the show until his own spin-off show The Jeffersons was created in 1975.  He made several more appearances on All In the Family through 1978.

Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker), Isabel Sanford (Louise Jefferson), and Sherman Hemsley (George Jefferson) in All In the Family

Helmsley starred in The Jeffersons with Isabel Sanford (Louise Jefferson), Marla Gibbs (Florence Johnston, The maid), Paul Benedict (Harry Bentley, neighbor), Franklin Cover (Tom Willis, neighbor), Roxie Roker (Helen Willis, Tom's wife), Mike Evans and Damon Evans as Lionel Jefferson, Ned Wertimer (Ralph the Doorman), and Zara Cully (Mother Jefferson).  Helmsley played the role of George Jefferson for 10 years until the show ended in 1985.

Some of the cast members of The Jeffersons.  Front: Sherman Hemsley (George Jefferson), Isabel Sanford (Louise "Weezy" Jefferson)  Back: Marla Gibbs (Florence Jefferson, the maid), Franklin Cover (Tom Willis), Roxie Roker (Helen Willis), and Ned Wertimer (Ralph the doorman)

During his run on The Jeffersons, Sherman made appearances in films and shows such as The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby, Lou Ferrigno and Jack Colvin (1979); Love at First Bite starring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Arte Johnson, Richard Benjamin, and Dick Shawn (1979); and the television adaptation of the play Purlie co-starring Robert Guillaume, Melba Moore, Clarice Taylor, Rhetta Hughes, Don Scardino, Brandon Maggart, and Linda Hopkins (1981).

Sherman Hemsley (George Jefferson) and Isabel Sanford (Louise Jefferson) of the television comedy The Jeffersons

Sherman appeared in Fantasy Island starring
Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize (2 episodes, 1981-82); The Love Boat" starring Gavin MacLeod, Lauren Tewes, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Jill Whelan, and Ted Lange (3 episodes, 1977-83); and E/R starring Elliott Gould, Jason Alexander, George Clooney, Lynne Moody, Conchata Ferrell, Corinne Bohrer, Bruce A. Young, Shuko Akune, Pamela Adlon, and Mary McDonnell (1984).

After The Jeffersons, Hemsley immediately landed the role of Deacon Ernest Frye in the television series Amen.  He co-starred with Clifton Davis (Reverend Reuben Gregory), Anna Maria Horsford (Thelma Frye), Roz Ryan (Amelia Hetebrink), and Jester Hairston (Rolly Forbes).  He played the role of Deacon Frye for six years until the show ended in 1991.

Sherman Hemsley and the cast of Amen

During his run on Amen, Hemsley starred in Alice in Wonderland
with Natalie Gregory, Sheila Allen, Sharee Gregory, Scott Baio, Charles Dougherty, Red Buttons, Billy Braver, Shelley Winters, Donald O'Connor, Sammy Davis Jr., Donna Mills, Ernie F. Orsatti, Robert Axelrod, Ernest Borgnine, and Martha Raye (1985); The Twilight Zone co-starring Ron Glass(1985); Stewardess School co-starring Brett Cullen, Mary Cadorette, Judy Landers, Don Most, Wendie Jo Sperber, Corinne Bohrer, Sandahl Bergman, Julia Montgomery, and Dennis Burkley (1986); Combat High co-starring Keith Gordon, Wallace Langham, Danny Nucci, George Clooney, Bernie Kopell, Robert Culp, Jamie Farr, Dana Hill, Tina Caspary, Kevin Haley, and Richard Moll (1986); Ghost Fever co-starring Luis Avalos, Jennifer Rhodes, Joe Frazier, Diana Brookes, Myron Healey, and Pepper Martin (1987); 227 starring Helen Martin, Marla Gibbs, Jackée Harry, Hal Williams, Regina King, and Alaina Reed-Hall (1988); Club Fed co-starring Burt Young, Allen Garfield, Judy Landers, Lance Kinsey, Joseph Campanella, and Karen Black (1990); and Camp Cucamonga co-starring John Ratzenberger, Chad Allen, Richard Herd, Jennifer Aniston, Danica McKellar, Candace Cameron Bure, Lauren Tewes, Josh Saviano, Jaleel White, Tasha Scott, Dorothy Lyman, and G. Gordon Liddy (1990).

Clifton Davis(Reverend Reuben Gregory) and Sherman Hemsley (Deacon Ernest Frye) of the TV show Amen

After Amen, Sherman took on a change in pace, immediately landing another series role in 1991, only this time as B.P. Richfield, a character in the "animated" series Dinosaurs.  The actors consisted mostly of life sized puppets. He co-starred in the show with Stuart Pankin (Earl Sinclair), Jessica Walter (Fran Sinclair), Allan Trautman (Fran Sinclair), Sally Struthers (Charlene Sinclair), and Jason Willinger (Robbie Sinclair).  Hemsley played the role for five years until it ended in 1995.

The main characters of the show Dinosaurs

During his run on Dinosaurs, Hemsley appeared in What a Dummy starring Stephen Dorff, Joshua Rudoy and David Doty (1991); Hangin' with Mr. Cooper starring Mark Curry, Holly Robinson Peete, Raven-Symoné, Sandra Quarterman, Marquise Wilson, and Nell Carter (1992); he played Judge Robertson on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air starring Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, James Avery, Karyn Parsons, and Tatyana Ali (3 episodes, 1992); Designing Women starring Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, Judith Ivey, Jan Hooks, Alice Ghostley, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Della Reese (1993); Mr. Nanny co-starring Hulk Hogan, Afa Anoai, Butch Brickell, Ed Leslie, Ed Leslie, and Kelly Erin (1993); and Townsend Television starring Robert Townsend, John Witherspoon, Roxanne Beckford, Barry Diamond, and Paula Jai Parker (1993).

Sherman also appeared in New Year's Rotten Eve co-starring Rey Anthony, Heather Barrett, Mark Hamill, Nicole Bass, Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb, and Maurice Gibb (1994); Home of Angels starring Abe Vigoda, Joe Frazier, Karin Wolfe, Lance Robinson, and Craig Sechler (1994); Burke's Law starring Gene Barry, and Peter Barton with Kristian Alfonso, Linda Purl, Dave Coulier, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (1994); Thunder in Paradise starring Hulk Hogan, Chris Lemmon, Russ Wheeler, Patrick Macnee, Tommy Mack Turvey, and Ashley Gorrell (1994); Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman starring Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Eddie Jones, Lane Smith, K Callan, and Justin Whalin (1994); Me and the Boys starring Madge Sinclair, Steve Harvey, Benjamin LeVert, Wayne Collins Jr., and Chaz Lamar Shepherd (1994); Family Matters
starring Reginald VelJohnson, Jaleel White, Darius McCrary, Laura Winslow, JoMarie Payton, Rosetta LeNoire, and Cherie Johnson (1994); and The Misery Brothers co-starring Leo Rossi, Lorenzo Doumani, Andrea Leithe, Gary Ross, Robert Costanzo, Pollo Loco, and Kristi Ducati (1995).

After the Dinosaurs series was over, Hemsley appeared in several episodes of Family Matters as the character Captain Savage in 1995 of which he had appeared as in one episode the prior year.  He co-starred with
Reginald VelJohnson, Jaleel White, Darius McCrary, Laura Winslow, JoMarie Payton, Rosetta LeNoire, and Cherie Johnson.  Hemsley also took on the part-time role as Grandpa Campbell on the series Sister, Sister co-starring Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Tim Reid, Jackée Harry, and Marques Houston.

Sherman went on to make appearances in The Secret World of Alex Mack starring Larisa Oleynik, Darris Love, Meredith Bishop, Dorian Lopinto, and Michael Blakley (1995); The Wayans Bros. starring Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Anna Maria Horsford, and John Witherspoon (1995); The Magic School Bus co-starring Lily Tomlin, Daniel DeSanto, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and Erica Luttrell (1995); In the House starring LL Cool J, Maia Campbell, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Kim Wayans (1995); Martin starring Martin Lawrence, Carl Anthony Payne II, Tichina Arnold, Thomas Mikal Ford, and Tisha Campbell-Martin (1996); and Minor Adjustments starring Rondell Sheridan, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Sara Rue, and Linda Kash (1996).

Sherman Hemsley then

Hemsley resurrected the role of George Jefferson in another episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air starring Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, James Avery, Karyn Parsons, and Tatyana Ali with Isabel Sanford, Marla Gibbs, Gary Coleman, and Conrad Bain (2 episodes, 1996).

Sherman then took on the starring role of Willie Goode in the television series Goode Behavior.  He co-starred with  Dorien Wilson (Franklin Goode), Alex Datcher (Barbara Goode), Bianca Lawson (Bianca Goode), Scott Grimes (Garth), and Joseph Maher (Chancellor Willoughby).  Hemsley played the role of Willie Goode for twenty-two episodes until the show ended in 1997.

Sherman Hemsley and the cast of Goode Behavior

During his run on Goode Behavior, Sherman also appeared on the show Clueless starring Rachel Blanchard, Stacey Dash, Donald Faison, David Lascher, and Elisa Donovan (1996); All That starring Amanda Bynes, Nick Cannon, Kenan Thompson, Josh Server, Chelsea Brummet, Lisa Foiles, Jack De Sena, and Kyle Sullivan (1997); and the film Sprung co-starring Tisha Campbell-Martin, Rusty Cundieff, Paula Jai Parker, John Witherspoon, Clarence Williams III, Jennifer Lee, and Joe Torry (1997).

After Goode Behavior, Hemsley starred in Casper: A Spirited Beginning with Steve Guttenberg, Lori Loughlin, Rodney Dangerfield, Richard Moll, Ben Stein, Michael McKean, Shannon Chandler, Logan Robbins, and D'Juan Watts (1997); Clips' Place starring Joel Michaely, Christina Milian, Al White, and Shane West (1998); and Senseless starring Marlon Wayans, David Spade, Debra Jo Rupp, Brad Dourif, Rip Torn, and Tamara Taylor (1998).

In 1999, Sherman played the recurring role of James Williams on the show The Hughleys starring D.L. Hughley, Elise Neal, Ashley Monique Clark, and Eric Allan Kramer.  He appeared as Mr. Williams in four episodes through 2000.

Sherman Hemsley now

During his stint on The Hughleys, Hemsley also appeared in City Guys starring Wesley Jonathan, Marissa Dyan, Scott Whyte, Dion Basco, and Caitlin Mowrey (1999); Up, Up, and Away! co-starring Robert Townsend, Michael J. Pagan, Olivia Burnette, Alex Datcher, and Kevin Connolly (2000); and Screwed co-starring Norm MacDonald, Dave Chappelle, Danny DeVito, Sarah Silverman, Elaine Stritch, and Daniel Benzali (2000).

Sherman Hemsley today

After The Hughleys, Sherman starred in Mr. Ed co-starring David Alan Basche, Garret Dillahunt, Sherilyn Fenn, and Blake Woodruff (2004); Family Guy starring Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mila Kunis, Seth Green, and Mike Henry (2004); For the Love of a Dog co-starring Phil Vassar, Bridgette Potts, and Tina Witherby (2008); Hanging in Hedo co-starring Traci Bingham, Stephanie Brown, Tiffany E. Green, Cassandra Hepburn, Mario Macaluso, Billy Maddox, Nancy Yoon, and Judy Tenuta (2008); American Pie Presents: The Book of Love co-starring Bug Hall, Kevin M. Horton, Eugene Levy, Brandon Hardesty, and Beth Behrs (2009); and Clunkers starring Ritchie Montgomery, Robin Thede and Jamie Wax (2011).

UPDATE: 7/24/12  Sadly it was announced that George Jefferson was found dead in his home today.  He was 74.  Fairwell Sherman, you will be missed!  Thank you for the laughs.

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