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Sherman Hemsley
Born Sherman Alexander Hemsley
February 1, 1938 (1938-02-01) (age 72)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1968 – present
Official website

Sherman Alexander Hemsley (born February 1, 1938) 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 Amen. He also played Earl Sinclair's horrifying boss, a Triceratops named B.P. Richfield on the Jim Henson sitcom, Dinosaurs.




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 stayed for four years. When he left the Air Force, he moved back 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.[1][2]

Work with Norman Lear

While Hemsley was on Broadway with Purlie, 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 role in Purlie, 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 before its cancellation in 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 Deacon Ernest Frye, an unscrupulous church elder much like his 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, 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 90's 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 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.

He currently resides in El Paso, Texas and runs Triangle Productions.[citation needed]


The handprints of Sherman Hemsley in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Television work

Hemsley, with Isabel Sanford, on The Jeffersons.


  1. ^ "Ask Monika". St. Petersburg Times. September 3, 1989. p. 64. 
  2. ^ Claudia Rosenbaum (September 3, 1989). "Hemsley turns to stand-up comedy". The Washington Times. p. M2. 
  3. ^ Purlie (1981) at the Internet Movie Database

External links


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