Beloved television actor Sherman Hemsley, who starred as high-strung George Jefferson on CBS’ The Jeffersons, has died. He was found at his home in El Paso, Texas, yesterday and is said to have died of natural causes. He was 74 years old.
Sherman Alexander Hemsley was born in Philadelphia, studied drama in New York at the Negro Ensemble Company and the Urban Arts Company. He made his Broadway debut in the satirical musical comedy Purlie and later toured with the show.
Norman Lear lured him away from Broadway to play George Jefferson, a recurring character on the popular All in the Family sitcom. Lear once said, “The cocky energy of the guy was totally in sync with the offstage image we had created of George.” George and wife “Weezy” (Isabel Sanford) proved to be so popular that they were later given their own spin-off, The Jeffersons.