He Moved On Up As High As He Could; Sherman Hemsley Dies At 74

Sherman Hemsley

Sherman Hemsley, left, on the set of RECOiL with writer/director/actor Brian DiMaio. Despite Hemsley’s seemingly complimentary nickname for DiMaio of “head honky in charge” Hemsley would often be found sitting in DiMaio’s director’s chair. Speaking of “honky,” Hemsley used the word 398 times, all ad-libbed, in his single scene of the movie which was, ultimately, cut by the censors.

El Paso, TX— Actor Sherman Hemsley, best known as the self-made dry-cleaning mogul and millionaire George Jefferson on “The Jeffersons” from 1974 to 1985, died Tuesday. He was 74.

He began his career on stage in New York, and got his first Broadway role in 1971 in “Purlie” before “All in the Family” creater Norman Lear cast him as George Jefferson, the next door neighbor to racist Archie Bunker. That role led to the successful spin-off on CBS.

After “The Jeffersons” ended, he again found television success as Deacon Ernest Frye in “Amen,” which ran on NBC from from 1986 until 1991.

Besides television, Hemsley appeared in such films as “Love at First Bite,” “Stewardess School,” “RECOiL” and “Jane Austen’s Mafia.”

He never married and had no children.

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