Tuesday, July 24, 2012

RIP Sherman Hemsley...

Sherman Hemsley is best remembered for playing George Jefferson, the lovably pompous, little loud-mouth who made a fortune from his dry cleaning business and moved from Queens to a posh Manhattan high rise in The Jeffersons, a popular sitcom that ran ten years on the CBS network. Before becoming an actor in the late '60s, Hemsley worked for the U.S. Post Office. He started out on the New York stage where his first break came from playing Gitlow in the Broadway musical Purlie (1970). Television producer Norman Lear was impressed by Hemsley's performance and so created George Jefferson for him. Originally designed as an African-American alter ego/foil to his blustery, bigoted Archie Bunker character on the smash hit All in the Family, Hemsley's George became so popular that he and his family were given their own series in 1975.

Following the series' demise, Hemsley played an egotistical, loud-mouthed deacon/lawyer at the First Community Church of Philadelphia who tried to keep the new minister, Reverend Gregory, from taking over what he viewed as his personal domain, on Amen. The series broke ground by being the first hit sitcom centered on religion and ran from 1986 to 1991. In between his series work, Hemsley occasionally played supporting roles in feature films after making his debut playing Rev. Mike in the comedy Love at First Bite (1979). 

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