Sherman Hemsley of TV’s “The Jeffersons” dies
EL PASO, Texas — Sherman Hemsley, the actor who made the irascible, bigoted George Jefferson of “The Jeffersons” one of television’s most memorable characters and a symbol for urban upward mobility, has died. He was 74.
Police in El Paso, Texas, said late Tuesday that Hemsley was found dead at a local home where neighbors said he’d lived for years. A statement from police said no foul play is suspected and that the exact cause of death is pending.
The Philadelphia-born Hemsley first played the blustering black Harlem businessman on CBS’s “All in the Family” before he was spun off onto “The Jeffersons,” which in 11 seasons from 1975 to 1985 became one of TV’s most successful comedies — particularly noteworthy with its mostly black cast.
With the gospel-style theme song of “Movin’ On Up,” the hit show depicted the wealthy former neighbors of Archie and Edith Bunker in Queens as they made their way on New York’s Upper East Side. Hemsley and the Jeffersons (Isabel Sanford played his wife) often dealt with contemporary issues of racism, but more frequently reveled in the TV comedy archetype of a short-tempered, opinionated patriarch trying, often unsuccessfully to control his family.
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