Sanford and Son (1972–1977)
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A Matter of Life and Breath 

Concerned about his father's smoker's cough, Lamont brings Fred in for a free tuberculosis screening at the American Lung Association's Breathmobile. The test results take his breath away.



(teleplay by), ("T.B. or Not T.B." by) | 3 more credits »

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Episode cast overview:
... Fred G. Sanford
... Lamont Sanford
Lillian Lehman ... Receptionist
Noreen Gammill ... Nurse


While on his daily rounds, Lamont spots a "Breath Mobile" that is offering free chest X-Rays. Concerned about his father's chain smoking, he tries to get his old man to get a chest X-Ray, which Fred is reluctant to do. He and Fred both get chest X-Rays and when they get the results in the mail, Fred's letter comes up clean, but Lamont's states that his test was "unsatisfactory due to a technical fault". Taking this as a sign that he has tuberculosis, Lamont panics and decides to check into a sanitarium. Fred become nervous that the condition might be contagious and tries to sanitize the house. Later, Lamont comes home disgusted because the "technical fault" was due to his St. Christopher medal blocking the X-Ray. He also learns that while he was gone, Fred not only read his last will and testament, but also burned his mattresses, sheets and pillow cases. Written by Jerry Roberts

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Release Date:

11 February 1972 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Fred mentions a friends of his who got run over by a tobacco truck as someone who "was killed by cigarettes". This was a joke Redd Foxx used in his stand-up act when discussing his smoking habit. See more »


Despite Fred stating he had smoked 2 packs a day since he was 10 and having a clean bill of health (highly unlikely), he was never shown smoking in any episodes before this one or for the rest of the show's run. See more »


Lamont Sanford: Pop, since you was 10, you smoked a cigarette 41 miles long!
Fred G. Sanford: That's real super king-size, ain't it?
See more »


Remake of Steptoe and Son: T.B. or Not T.B.? (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

Daddy's dying, who's got the will
13 December 2016 | by See all my reviews

"A Matter of Life and Breath" finds Lamont anxious to have his longtime smoker father get a free chest X-ray at a passing 'Breathmobile.' The receptionist (Lillian Lehman) is young and pretty, inspiring this memorable exchange: "you're a dirty old man you know that?" "and I'm gonna be one till I'm a dead old man!" Unfortunately, the nurse (Noreen Gammill) is an 'old ugly white woman!' It's quite a surprise when the test results say that Fred is perfectly healthy, while Lamont is the one who needs a second test! Figuring his son is contaminated, Fred deigns to even touch him before it's time for the examination. Lamont seals his last will and testament in an envelope, but his father is too anxious to wait until his son's death before reading it.

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