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“The Jefferson’s” Star Sherman Hemsley passes on, leaving behind a legacy of laughter.
Best known for his uncompromising character on the successful sitcom ‘The Jeffersons’, Sherman Hemsley passed away in his El Paso home on Tuesday, July 24, 2012. With his debut as George Jefferson on the ‘All in the Family’ series, Hemsley became a favorite; earning his very own spinoff: ‘The Jeffersons’. As the core of the comic drama, Hemsley resonated with many African American families, serving as real, relatable, and elevating.
The iconic ‘Movin’ On Up’ theme song was central not only to their family dynamic, but his achievements as well. Despite his fear of “being laughed at or laughed with”, according to a 2003 interview, Hemsley made quite the mark in entertainment; in part attributed to his beginnings on Broadway as well as catching the attention of television producer, Norman Lear. With accomplishments stemming from various genres, Hemsley is definitely a product of his brassy, Philadelphia roots.
The son of a ‘South Philly’ factory worker-mom, Hemsley joined the Air Force and served for four years following his withdrawal from school. Though affected by ‘the struggle’, Hemsley seemed to have embodied the characteristics of his role in surpassing set expectations. Setting himself apart from other black characters as (he described of a producers’ request), ‘pompous and feisty’, Hemsley won over the hearts of American families with these exact qualities. His accolades include appearances on ‘Amen’ as the character ‘Deacon Frye’, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’, ‘Family Guy’, ‘The Surreal Life’, ‘Dinosaurs’ and Tyler Perry’s ‘House of Payne’. While the family favorite has ‘moved on up’, his humorous pride and diverse talent has left a lasting impression that will stay with us forever.