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Isabel Sanford Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (14) | Personal Quotes (7) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 29 August 1917New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 9 July 2004Los Angeles, California, USA  (cardiopulmonary arrest and heart disease)
Birth NameEloise Gwendolyn Sanford
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Isabel Sanford was a Broadway actress for over thirty years before moving to Hollywood. She made numerous guest appearances on TV, including a stint as a supporting cast member on The Carol Burnett Show (1967). Until her passing, Isabel continued to act frequently, most recently in a series of commercials for Old Navy stores with The Jeffersons (1975) co-star, Sherman Hemsley. She made several commercials for Nick-at-Nite as well when the cable channel premiered The Jeffersons (1975).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Me

Isabel Sanford was born in the Harlem section of New York, the youngest of seven children and sadly, the only one to survive infancy. Young Isabel always wanted to act. Her mother was against the idea, so she sneaked out of the house to perform in nightclubs. Despite winning third place in an amateur contest at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, she gave up her extracurricular activities and became a cleaning woman.

Sanford then married William "Sonny" Richmond, had three children and worked as a keypunch operator in the New York City welfare department. She was in her late 20s when her desire to act finally became a reality. Sanford joined the American Negro Theater, and in 1946, made her stage debut in the play "On Strivers Row."

Sanford moved to Los Angeles in 1960 to pursue a TV and film career. She landed bit parts on TV shows such as Bewitched (1964) and Mod Squad (1968) and had a semi-regular spot on The Carol Burnett Show (1967). Her performance in the 1965 Broadway production of "Amen Corner" caught the eye of director Stanley Kramer. He cast her in the then-daring Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) as a sharp-tongued maid who has words with Sidney Poitier's character about marrying a white woman.

Three years later, TV producer Norman Lear cast Sanford in the recurring role of Louise "Weezy" Jefferson, Archie Bunker's next door neighbor on the landmark TV comedy series All in the Family (1971). In 1975, the characters of Louise and husband George Jefferson ('Sherman Hemsley') were given their own spin-off TV show, The Jeffersons (1975). The series, about an African American couple who move from the working class Queens district of New York to Manhattan's affluent Upper East Side, was a hit that ran for 11 seasons. In 1981, Sanford made history as the first African American woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

When the show was canceled in 1985, Sanford and Hemsley continued to appear together in TV commercials for Old Navy stores, Denny's restaurants and Nick at Nite, the cable TV network then airing reruns of The Jeffersons (1975). In later years, she also made cameos on shows such as the TV comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990) and the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless (1973). In addition to her many Emmy nominations and one win, Sanford was honored with five Golden Globe nominations and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mykol

Spouse (1)

William Edward (Sonny) Richmond (? - 1960) (his death) (3 children)

Trivia (14)

Her son Sanford K. Sanford and daughter Pamela Ruff appeared in her profile episode of TV's Intimate Portrait (1993) on the Lifetime cable TV network. Has another son named William Eric.
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was joined at the ceremony by about 300 excited fans, family members and friends, including All in the Family (1971) and The Jeffersons (1975) creator Norman Lear and Marla Gibbs, who played the Jeffersons' maid Florence. The star is at 7080 Hollywood Blvd.
Played the same character, Louise 'Weezy' Mills Jefferson, on four different TV series and one film: Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998), The Jeffersons (1975), All in the Family (1971), Roseanne (1988), and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990).
First African-American woman to win the Emmy award for "Best Actress in a Comedy" for her work on The Jeffersons (1975).
Cast in the recurring role of Louise Jefferson on All in the Family (1971) by series creator Norman Lear who remembered her from a stage production of "The Amen Corner.".
Joined the American Negro Theatre in Harlem following her graduation from high school. Also was a member of the theatre company The Star Players down the road.
Had a daughter and two sons by her marriage to William "Sonny" Richmond, a housepainter. She gave up her career to raise her family but moved to Los Angeles with her children after her estranged husband drowned in 1960.
Once performed comedy as a teen at the Apollo Theatre's amateur night.
The youngest of seven children and the only one to survive infancy.
Was over twenty years older than her The Jeffersons (1975) co-star Sherman Hemsley who played her husband on the series.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 490-492. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages . Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
Cousin of Dorothy Butts.
She played the same character (Louise Jefferson) on three different series: All in the Family (1971), The Jeffersons (1975) and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990).
She was last seen, before her passing, at the TV Land Awards with her The Jeffersons (1975) co-star, Sherman Hemsley, accepting the award for the most eccentric TV couple.

Personal Quotes (7)

On her Star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she said "Here with stars in my eyes - something that I dreamed about when I was 9 years old. There are others that deserve it, but let everybody get their own."
If there's anything in life you consider worthwhile achieving -- go for it. I was told many times to forget show business, I had nothing going for me. But I pursued it, anyway. Voila!
In 1996, she said: I watched the first episode of that, and I didn't like it. I didn't like the background. I didn't like the way they dressed. I didn't like the way Archie Bunker talked about black people. But I decided to watch the next episode anyway to see if I could determine why they would allow this trash to be on the air, and I found myself falling down laughing.
I was very comfortable having a steady job on a hit show, and who knew if The Jeffersons would catch on?
Who never wanted any credit or any publicity for her philanthropy and regularly turned down invitations to be publicly recognized for her support, she said: Use the money to do the research, to do the work, to help people, I don't give to be thanked. I give because I want to help.
About the only child who was born on August 29, after Josephine's other children had passed away, she said: I was the only child born to Josephine Perry that survived. Mama had six other children before me and all had passed very quickly and very young, all succumbing to a combination of illness and disease and the lack of strength to fight off both. As for me, I was both strong and healthy, and, if you believed the rumors, I wasn't too bright.
I wasn't young, I wasn't pretty and I was a black woman looking for success in a business where those attributes were certainly not in demand in the 1960's.

Salary (1)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) $600/week

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