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Sherman Hemsley of 'The Jeffersons' dies

Sherman Hemsley appears with Isabel Sanford in a scene from the 1970s series 'The Jeffersons.' (Embassy Television / CBS)
July 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Sherman Hemsley, best known for his role as George Jefferson in the sitcom "The Jeffersons," has died at the age of 74.

Hemsley died at his home in El Paso, Texas, his spokesman confirmed on Tuesday. The cause of death is unknown at this time.

Hemsley first tried acting as a child in a school play about fire prevention - he played the fire. He was a high school dropout who joined the Air Force. After his service, he officially began his acting career.

His career took off when he began appearing in one of the biggest hits of the '70s, "All in the Family, " as George Jefferson. His character was a perfect foil for Archie Bunker - blunt and not necessarily politically correct.

The show ended its run in 1978, but the role would lead him to his own spin-off series, "The Jeffersons."

Hemsley and his TV wife Louise "Weezy" Jefferson, played by Isabel Sanford, spent 11 seasons in prime time. His George Jefferson character would eventually appear on four different series.

Hemsley found success on other TV shows. For five seasons, he played Deacon Ernest Frye on "Amen." He also had roles in shows like "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, "Family Matters" and "Sister, Sister." He was the voice of mean boss B.P. Richfield in the 1990s life-size puppet sitcom "The Dinosaurs," and the actor's last on-screen role was in a 2011 episode of the comedy series "House of Payne."

He spent a career as a wise-cracking comedic actor. Laughter, it seems, was his signature.


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