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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sherman Hemsley Dies at 74

Sherman Hemsley, who
played George Jefferson on
The Jeffersons, has died at 74,
according to police. The actor, who first played
the role of Jefferson in All in
the Family, also played Deacon
Ernest Frye on TV's Amen. Hemsley died at his home in El
Paso, Texas, police say. Born in South Philadelphia,
Hemsley dropped out of high
school to join the Air Force. He
returned to Philadelphia and
worked for the U.S. Postal
Service, while taking acting classes at night. After performing with local
groups in Philadelphia,
Hemsley moved to New York
to make his Broadway debut
as Gitlow in Purlie. While touring with the
production, television writer
and producer Norman Lear
contacted Hemsley to play the
role of Jefferson on his new
sitcom, All in the Family. Hemsley hesitated to accept
but Lear held the role open for
him and two years later,
Hemsley joined the cast. Less than two years after
Hemsley made his television
debut, he and All in the Family
costar Isabel Sanford were
given their own spin-off in
The Jeffersons. The series earned Hemsley Emmy and
Golden Globe nominations in
1984 and 1985 respectively. Sanford died in 2004 at age 86. In 1986, Hemsley was cast as
Deacon Ernest Frye in the NBC
series, Amen. The role would
last five seasons, ending in
1991. He was also a professional
singer and released a single on
Sutra Record called "Ain't That
a Kick in the Head" in 1989. In
1992, he released Dance, an
R&B album. Although he retired from
television acting, Hemsley
joined Sanford through the
late '90s and early 2000's to
reprise their roles as George
and Louise "Weezy" Jefferson on guest spots. The duo
appeared on The Fresh Prince
of Bel-Air and in commercials
for Old Navy, Gap and
Denny's. Hemsley had no wife or