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Sherman Hemsley (1938)

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  Summary  

Sherman Alexander Hemsley is an American actor, most famous for his role as George Jefferson on the CBS television series All in the Family and The Jeffersons, and as Deacon Ernest Frye on the NBC series Amen. He also played Earl Sinclair's horrifying boss, a Triceratops named B.P. Richfield on the Jim Henson sitcom Dinosaurs.

  Biography  

 career
 Early life
Hemsley was born and raised in South Philadelphia by his mother, who was a factory worker. He dropped out of school and joined the Air Force, where he served for four years. On leaving the Air Force, he returned to Philadelphia where he worked for the Post Office during the day while attending acting school at night. He then moved to New York, continuing to work for the Post Office during the day while working as an actor at night. He starred as the character Gitlow in the early 1970s Broadway play Purlie.

 Work with Norman Lear
Sherman Hemsley performed with local groups in Philadelphia before moving to New York to study with Lloyd Richards at the Negro Ensemble Company. Shortly after, he joined Vinnette Carroll's Urban Arts Company appearing in these productions; "But Never Jam Today", "The Lottery", "Old Judge Mose is Dead", "Moon On A Rainbow Shawl", "Step Lively Boys", "Croesus" and "The Witch". He made his Broadway debut in Purlie and toured with the show for a year. In the summer of 1972 he joined the Vinnette Carroll musical "Sorry, I Cant Cope" ensemble in Toronto, followed a month later in the American Conservatory Theatre production at the Geary Theatre. In this production with arrangement with Edward Padula & Arch Lusterg with music and lyrics by Micki Grant had Hemsley in Act I performing the solo "Lookin' Over From Your Side" and in Act II "Sermon."

While Hemsley was on Broadway with Purlie, Norman Lear called him in 1971 to play the role of George Jefferson on his burgeoning new sitcom, All in the Family. Hemsley was reluctant to leave his theatre role, but Lear told him that he would hold the role open for him. Hemsley joined the cast two years later. The characters of Hemsley and co-star Isabel Sanford were secondary on All in the Family, but were given their own spin-off series, The Jeffersons, less than two years after Hemsley made his debut on the show. Such was Hemsley's and Sanford's compatibility and credibility as a married couple that no one seemed to notice or care that in real life Sanford was twenty years older than Hemsley. The Jeffersons proved to be one of Lear's most successful shows, enjoying a run of 11 seasons through 1985.

 1980s and 1990s
Though Hemsley was largely typecast as George Jefferson, he continued to work steadily after the show's cancellation. He teamed up with the show's original cast members when The Jeffersons moved to Broadway for a brief period.

Hemsley joined the cast of NBC's Amen in 1986 as Ernest Frye, an unscrupulous church deacon much like his George Jefferson character. The show enjoyed a run of five seasons, ending in 1991. Hemsley then was a voice actor in the ABC live-action puppet series Dinosaurs, where he played Bradley P. Richfield, main character Earl's sadistic boss. The show ran for four seasons, ending in 1994.

Hemsley has largely retired from television acting, although he and Isabel Sanford appeared together in the late '90s and in the early 2000s, reprising their roles in guest spots on television programs such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, commercials for The Gap, Old Navy and Denny's, and dry cleaning conventions. He and Sanford also made a cameo appearance in the film Sprung. They continued to work together on occasion until Sanford began having health problems leading to her death in 2004.

 personal life
Sherman Hemsley is a self-proclaimed fan of '70s progressive rock including bands Gentle Giant and Nektar. On his appearance on The Dinah Shore Show, Hemsley performed a dance to the Gentle Giant song "Proclamation" from The Power and the Glory. After his dance, the host was laughing and asked what kind of music that was. Sherman then proceeded to give a 5-minute speech on Gentle Giant. Sherman can also been seen wearing a Nektar T-shirt during his interview with Norman Lear when Lear hosted Saturday Night Live from Season 2 Episode 26. He currently resides in El Paso, Texas, where he can often be seen traversing the neighborhood on various errands.

 television work
  • All in the Family (1973–1975)
  • The Jeffersons (1975–1985)
  • The Incredible Hulk (season 2 episode 18 "No Escape")
  • Pink Lady
  • Purlie
  • E/R (1984–1985) (guest spots as Nurse Julie Williams' uncle George Jefferson)
  • The Twilight Zone as Sam ("I of Newton")
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Candid Camera as Dick Sherman
  • Amen (1986–1991)
  • Combat High
  • Camp Cucamonga
  • Martin
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
  • Dinosaurs (1991–1994)
  • Townsend Television
  • The Magic School Bus (guest starred as Mr. Junkit, in "Revved Up")
  • Goode Behavior (1996–1997)
  • ''All That guest starred in two episodes
  • Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (Portrayed Winslow Schott a.k.a Toyman in the 1994 Episode "Seasons Greatings")
  • Casper: A Spirited Beginning
  • Sister, Sister (guest spots as Tia and Tamera's grandfather)
  • ''Senseless (Smythe-Bates Doorman)
  • Clips' Place
  • The Hughleys
  • Figure It Out
  • Up, Up, and Away
  • Mister Ed
  • The Surreal Life
  • Family Matters (Captain Marion Savage - Carl's superior)
  • All That
  • Family Guy, himself in a voice cameo ("The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz")
  • Tyler Perry's House of Payne

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Sherman Hemsley", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.