Remembering “The Jeffersons”

Let’s start with the original version of one of the best theme songs in sitcom history…

This is a post to honor Sherman Hemsley (February 1, 1938 – July 24, 2012) and George Jefferson because they both made me laugh. Our beloved George and Weezy Jefferson, played Hemsley and the wonderful Isabel Sanford respectively are gone, but those characters live on forever.  Just thinking about them makes me smile and for that I’m grateful.  George’s walk (if you can call it that), his hysterical verbal battles with Marla Gibbs who played the Jefferson’s maid, Florence, and so forth are etched in my mind.  This is a short but heartfelt tribute to the hilarious “The Jeffersons.”

“The Jeffersons” ran from 1975 to 1985 and is a show about a nouveau riche, African-American family who move into a luxury apartment building.  Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson were able to move into the swank, doorman building thanks to his lucrative dry-cleaning business.  The couple’s near-constant bickering but obvious love for each other made them one of my favorite television families.  That and the fact they develop close, if occasionally fractious, relationships with other tenants, several of whom are also very funny.  Other series regulars were Roxie Roker as Helen Willis and her husband Tom played by Franklin Cover, a black woman married to a white man, which again added loads of laughs with regards to George’s views and manner of phrasing certain things.  “The Jeffersons” was created by Norman Lear and the show started as a spin-off of “All in the Family” to continue the story of George, Louise and their son Lionel who moved next door to Archie and Edith Bunker before moving to the deluxe apartment in the sky.  Lear created the character of George Jefferson specifically for Hemsley who ran away with the hilarious portrayal of a loudmouthed, opinionated and bigoted, black version of Archie Bunker and he is just as funny.

Hemsley as George Jefferson at odds with Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker
Hemsley as George Jefferson at odds with Carroll O’Connor’s Archie Bunker

 

Here’s a clip of Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley discussing how they met:

Weezie and George
Weezy and George

 

“The Jeffersons” primary cast:

Sherman Helmsley as George Jefferson, Isabel Sanford as Louise “Wheezy” Jefferson, Mike Evans as Lionel Jefferson (later replaced by Damon Evans – no relation), Roxie Roker as Helen Willis, Franklin Cover as Tom Willis, Paul Benedict as Harry Bentley, Berlinda Tolbert as Jenny Willis, and Marla Gibbs as Florence Johnston.

Jeffersons Cast

 

Louise Jefferson: [to George] Your nose is so high you need a 10 foot pole to pick it!

 

7 thoughts

  1. George was HILARIOUS! Whenever he sparred with Archie (on AITF) or Florence, it was mastery in motion. He could sling (and take) insults like no other. Fun piece, Aurora 😊

  2. Watched it faithfully with my family every week, even if I was a little too young to grok everything going on. Even as a kid, though, I knew this show was special.

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