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Sherman Hemsley Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (18) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 1 February 1938Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 24 July 2012El Paso, Texas, USA  (superior vena cava syndrome due to lung cancer)
Birth NameSherman Alexander Hemsley
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Sherman Hemsley played characters known to be wise-cracking, "Weezy" loving, "honky" calling, boisterous fools which America and the entire world laughed with kindheartedly. Sherman Alexander Hemsley, Air Force veteran and actor, was born on Feb. 1, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, William Hemsley, worked at a printing press while his mother worked at various factories during the war. As a child, Hemsley was introduced to acting during school where the teachers would ask students to play different characters. The first play he did as a kid in school was about fire prevention and Hemsley played the fire. He eventually ended up dropping out of school and joined the Air Force. During his adolescence he never considered acting as a profession until after he served in the military. Hemsley then moved from south Philadelphia where he had spent most of his life to New York City. He worked as a post office clerk during the day and actor during the night. He considered New York the best place to be as it had several acting workshops and theater companies such as The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC)founded by Robert Hooks which helped actors/actresses obtain roles on theater, television and movies. His former co-star, Roxie Roker, was also part of the NEC alumni. Hemsley made his professional acting debut on the Broadway play, Purlie, and toured with the show for a year. In 1971, while on tour for Purlie, he received a call from producer/creator/writer Norman Lear. Lear wanted Hemsley to audition for a role which was going to be part of his sitcom All in the Family (1971). Due to his commitment to the Purlie project, Hemsley declined the role. Norman Lear said he would have the role open for him and Hemsley joined the cast two years later. Hemsley and co-star, Isabel Sanford were chosen to do a spin off of the show All In The Family called The Jeffersons (1975). Despite the age difference between Hemsley and Sanford (twenty years apart), many described their on-screen marriage as truly hilarious. Hemsley was nominated for a Golden Globe for his outstanding performance as George Jefferson. The Jeffersons turned out to be a success spanning eleven seasons ending in 1985. After The Jeffersons, Hemsley steadily started working on other projects and in 1986 joined the NBC sitcom Amen (1986) where he played religious deacon Ernest Frye. The show ran for five seasons until 1991. Hemsley then made his debut as a voice actor as part of the ABC live action-puppet series, Dinosaurs (1991). Hemsley played Bradley P. Richfield, Earl's cruel boss. The show ran successfully for four seasons. In 1997, the remaining cast of The Jeffersons had a reunion on the Rolonda (1994) talk show, still having the same charm they did decades ago. Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley made television guest appearances together on well-known television programs such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990) and were in commercials for The Gap, Old Navy and Denny's. Hemsley and Marla Gibbs guest starred on the TBS show House of Payne (2006) in 2011. Sherman Hemsley will be remembered as an actor who was on shows that addressed serious issues but also one who brought laughter into homes every week.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Peter Sean

Trivia (18)

Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 211-212. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Played the same character, "George Jefferson", on four different TV series and in a film: the TV series All in the Family (1971), The Jeffersons (1975), E/R (1984) and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), and the film, Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998).
George Jefferson, Hemsley's character on The Jeffersons (1975), was ranked #44 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].
Was over twenty years younger than his The Jeffersons (1975) co-star Isabel Sanford who played his wife on the series.
He was only 11 years older than his fictional TV son, acted by Mike Evans, on The Jeffersons (1975).
He and his The Jeffersons (1975) co-star, Isabel Sanford, appeared in Old Navy and Denny's Restaurant commercials, during the late 1970's.
The name "Weezy" came about due to a girl, Sherman Hemsley had a crush on in real-life, named Louise. Sherman Hemsley would call her "Weezy", and one day asked Isabel Sanford if he could call her character "Weezy" and she said yes.
Sherman Hemsley is also a professional singer having released a single in 1989 called, "Ain't That A Kick In The Head", with Sutra Records.
Hemsley never married or had any children. He lived with his girlfriend, Flora Enchinton, prior to his death.
In 2006, Hemsley was cast in VH1's reality show, The Surreal Life (2003), season 6.
He and Isabel Sanford also made a cameo appearance in the film, Sprung (1997).
Hemsley performed with local groups in Philadelphia before moving to New York to study with Lloyd Richards at the Negro Ensemble Company.
He dropped out of school and joined the United States Air Force, where he served for four years.
He was also a musician, releasing an album called "Dance" in 1992, though his own taste ran more toward 1970s rock bands, like Genesis and Yes.
On leaving the Air Force, he returned to Philadelphia where he worked for the Post Office during the day while attending acting school at night.
He played the same character (George Jefferson) on five different series: All in the Family (1971), The Jeffersons (1975), E/R (1984), The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990) and House of Payne (2006).
Made his television debut playing George Jefferson on All in the Family and made his final television on House of Payne playing George Jefferson as well.
Sherman Hemsley's talent agent and friend of 30 years died on July 14, 2013 in El Paso Tx. During this time, Sherman starred in the stage play, "Norman Is That You?", which won an award in Vegas for Best Produced Show with the "Sherman Hemsley Show". In addition, Sherman starred in the NBC-TV shows of the 80s and 90s, Amen (1986) and Goode Behavior (1996), which Ken Johnston contributed as producer.

Personal Quotes (1)

[When he was about to co-star with Isabel Sanford on All in the Family (1971)'s spinoff, The Jeffersons (1975)]: Isabel Sanford, who played his wife, Louise Jefferson, was reluctant to leave All in the Family (1971). She didn't know how the show would go.

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