September 2, 2014

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"George Jefferson" passes away at 74 Print E-mail

Sherman Hemsley, who famously played George Jefferson in the hit TV show The Jeffersons, has died. He was 74 years old.

A cause of death has not been confirmed for the actor, who helped make The Jeffersons a hit, playing the brash and cocky lead character.

Jefferson and his wife, whom he affectionately called "Weezy," were the center of a hard-scrabble-turned-success story that won the affection of viewers.

The show was a spinoff of All in the Family, which Hemsley also appeared on. Hemsley went on to star in the TV shows Amen as Deacon Ernest Frye and 227 as Thurmond Fox and made guest and starring appearances on several other popular TV shows and movies.

But it was The Jeffersons that fans most readily identify with, even more than 25 years after the end of the show's run.

Hemsley's character was a household name during the 1970s and 1980s, a character so iconic that people often can remember it before they remember Hemsley's real name.

Hemsley was also a professional singer and released a record titled Ain't That a Kick in the Head in 1989, followed by an R&B album called Dance.

Hemsley was born Feb. 1, 1938, in Philadelphia and turned to acting while a young student in school.

He made his professional acting debut in the Broadway play Purlie. After touring with the play for one year, Norman Lear invited Hemsley in 1971 to audition for a role in a new sit-com, All in the Family.