Sad news to report Sherman Hemsley, who famously played George Jefferson in the hit TV show The Jeffersons and Amen, has died. He was 74 years old.
El Paso police confirmed to TMZ.com that Hemsley died in his home there. Hemsley had no wife and no children. A cause of death has not been confirmed for the actor, who helped make The Jeffersons a hit, playing the brash and cocky lead character.
The show was a spinoff of All in the Family, which Hemsley also appeared on.
Hemsley went on to star in the TV shows Amen as Deacon Ernest Frye and 227 as Thurmond Fox and made guest and starring appearances on several other popular TV shows and movies.
But it was The Jeffersons that fans most readily identify with, even more than 25 years after the end of the show’s run.
Hemsley’s character was a household name during the 1970s and 1980s, a character so iconic that people often can remember it before they remember Hemsley’s real name.
“I grew up watching the Jeffersons as many of us did, [and] he along [with] that cast will be one to be remembered,” tweeted former NFL star Terrell Owens.
Larenz Tate, who worked with Hemsley on the set of Amen, also offered his condolences via Twitter.
“I had the honor of working [with] the great comedic actor as a kid on his show Amen in 1988,” Tate wrote.
“The Jeffersons” ran from 1975 to 1985, and after that show the Philadelphia-born Hemsley went on to guest star in everything from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to a role in the series “Family Guy.” Hemsley was also a professional singer and released a record titled Ain’t That a Kick in the Head in 1989, followed by an R&B album called Dance.
Hemsley was born Feb. 1, 1938, in Philadelphia and turned to acting while a young student in school. He made his professional acting debut in the Broadway play Purlie. After touring with the play for one year, Norman Lear invited Hemsley in 1971 to audition for a role in a new sit-com, All in the Family.