Sherman Hemsley, who played one of TV’s longest-running and beloved sitcom characters in George Jefferson, died late Tuesday at his El Paso, Texas home.
Hemsley, was a remarkable actor with an incredible resume, appearing on Broadway and several television shows throughout his life.
Hemsley was at his best as George Jefferson, who first stood up to Archie Bunker on “All in the Family” to prove that African-Americans could be everything white people were … and sometimes more.
“Jefferson”, as Bunker often called him, fired quips in as rapid-fire fashion as Archie (Carroll O’Connor) and owned his dry cleaning business well before Archie went on to become an “entermanure” (his word for entrepreneur) in his own right by owning a bar.
(George retorted “You’ve always been something like that” to Archie’s mangled word)
Hemsley’s character may have seemed to be tinged with bitterness and hate toward white people, but he countered by showing love and compassion at times for his neighbors on “The Jeffersons”, including “honky” (his word) in-law Tom Willis and the Englishman in New York, Harry Bentley.
“The Jeffersons” eventually ran out of steam after a decade of laughs and good-natured ribbing between George, his wife ‘Weezy,’ and Florence the maid, but Hemsley took his talents on to ‘Amen’, a spiritual-minded comedy that enjoyed a five-year run.
Hemsley may have been short in stature, but never in laughs and heart. He will be missed.