'The Jeffersons' actor Hemsley dies at 74
Sherman Hemsley, the actor who played George Jefferson on the ‘70s sitcom ‘The Jeffersons’, has died at age 74 in El Paso, Texas.
“Sherman Hemsley has been pronounced dead El Paso Sheriff’s Department has confirmed,” the actor’s agent Todd Frank said in a statement.
The cause and time of death was not immediately clear, and a sheriff’s representative could not be reached for comment.
Hemsley’s best-known role was as George Jefferson, the affluent and sometimes scheming owner of a dry cleaning business who lived in a New York luxury apartment with his wife, Louise, and a son named Lionel. The show was the first to focus on a black family’s move on up the social ladder.
Movin’ On Up, the gospel-flavoured theme song of the show, that celebrated the Jeffersons’ economic rise and their claiming a “deluxe apartment in the sky,” has become a pop culture classic.
The Jeffersons was a spinoff of creator Norman Lear’s more politically-oriented show All in the Family. In that show, the Jeffersons were introduced as the neighbours of Archie and Edith Bunker.
“With the passing of Sherman Hemsley, the world loses one of its most unique comic talents and a lovely man,” Lear said in a statement.
The Jeffersons ran on television from 1975 to 1985. After that, the Philadelphia-born Hemsley went on to guest star in shows including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as well as a role in the animated series Family Guy.
Hemsley was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1984 for outstanding actor in a comedy series for The Jeffersons. He was also a veteran of the US Air Force.