For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “TELEVISION” and go with “The Jeffersons“. This television show started in 1975 and was over in 1985. It’s one that I remember watching often, and has one of those themes that still today, you know the words to. Back in the day, there was nothing new to me about this type of show. I know so many said, when I was younger, that this show was different, but for me, it was just funny and a great thing to watch. I so wish that we could keep the attitude of children on things such as race, etc. later in life.
The “The Jeffersons” really let me feel what it would be like to be in a big city. I still have never been to the East Coast and just being able to see what was over there and the people that lived there, was fun. I didn’t understand the thing of what seemed to be only apartments, but now that I’m older, I realize that there are some of those apartments in that area, that are larger than a lot of homes!! I still hope to visit there one day and just see what it’s all about. I’ve heard the people have a heart of gold and it’s a place that everyone should visit, at least once in their lifetime. Being able to live through it with “The Jeffersons” was great!
For those of you, who are either too young, or just don’t remember it, here’s a video of “The Jeffersons” intro:
“The Jeffersons” is one that most people from the 1970’s and 1980’s will remember. Great stories, normal life, good friends and the proof that we are all just one group of people, made from our wonderful God, who has that true deluxe apartment in the sky!
So, did you ever watch this show when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV later in life? Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!
More Info on the Television Series:
The Jeffersons is an American sitcom that was broadcast on CBS from January 18, 1975, through July 2, 1985, lasting 11 seasons and a total of 253 episodes. The show was produced by the T.A.T. Communications Company from 1975 to 1982 and by Embassy Television from 1982 to 1985. The Jeffersons is one of the longest-running sitcoms in the history of American television.
The show focuses on George and Louise Jefferson, an affluent African-American couple living in New York City. The show was launched as the second spin-off of All in the Family, on which the Jeffersons had been the neighbors of Archie and Edith Bunker.
The show was the creation of prolific television producer Norman Lear. However, it was less sharply political in tone than some of his shows. The Jeffersons evolved into more of a traditional sitcom, relying more on the characters’ interactions with one another than on explicitly political dialogue or storylines. It did, however, tackle a few controversial topics, including racism, suicide, gun control and adult illiteracy. Also, the words “nigger” and “honky” were used occasionally, especially during the earlier seasons.
The Jeffersons had one spin-off, titled Checking In. The short-lived series was centered on the Jeffersons’ housekeeper, Florence. Checking In only lasted four episodes, after which Florence returned to The Jeffersons. The Jeffersons also shared continuity with the show E/R, which featured Lynne Moody, who made a guest appearance in one episode of The Jeffersons as George’s niece. Sherman Hemsley guest-starred as George in two episodes of the series, which lasted for one season.
The show ended in controversy after CBS abruptly canceled the series without allowing for a proper series finale. The cast was not informed until after the July 2, 1985, episode “Red Robins”, and actor Sherman Hemsley said he found out that the show was canceled by reading it in the newspaper. Sanford, who heard about the cancellation through her cousin who read about it in the tabloids, has publicly stated that she found the cancellation with no proper finale to be disrespectful on the network’s part. The cast reunited in a stage play based on the sitcom. In the 1996 series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the Jeffersons made a guest appearance and bought the house from the Banks family. In an episode of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne in 2011, Sherman Hemsley and Marla Gibbs reprised their roles of George Jefferson and Florence Johnston.
In 1985, Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford made a special guest appearance as the Jeffersons in the Canale 5 comedy show Grand Hotel, starring the Italian actors Paolo Villaggio, Franco & Ciccio comic duo and Carmen Russo. They were guests in the fictional hotel, and appeared just twice during the show, for a total of five minutes. Their voices were dubbed by the Italian actors Enzo Garinei (George) and Isa di Marzio (Louise), who also dubbed their characters for the full series.
Some of the Characters:
Sherman Hemsley (George Jefferson) was born in 1938, and passed away in 2012. He played characters known to be wise-cracking, “Weezy” loving, “honky” calling, boisterous fools which America and the entire world laughed with kindheartedly. Sherman Alexander Hemsley, Air Force veteran and actor, was born on Feb. 1, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, William Hemsley, worked at a printing press while his mother worked at various factories during the war. As a child, Hemsley was introduced to acting during school where the teachers would ask students to play different characters. He eventually ended up dropping out of school and joined the Air Force. During his adolescence he never considered acting as a profession until after he served in the military. Hemsley then moved from south Philadelphia where he had spent most of his life to New York City. He worked as a post office clerk during the day and actor during the night. In 1971, while on tour for Purlie, he received a call from producer/creator/writer Norman Lear. Lear wanted Hemsley to audition for a role which was going to be part of his sitcom All in the Family (1971). Due to his commitment to the Purlie project, Hemsley declined the role. Norman Lear said he would have the role open for him and Hemsley joined the cast two years later. Hemsley and co-star, Isabel Sanford were chosen to do a spin off of the show All In The Family called The Jeffersons (1975). Despite the age difference between Hemsley and Sanford (twenty years apart), many described their on-screen marriage as truly hilarious. Hemsley was nominated for a Golden Globe for his outstanding performance as George Jefferson. Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley made television guest appearances together on well-known television programs such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990) and were in commercials for The Gap, Old Navy and Denny’s. Hemsley and Marla Gibbs guest starred on the TBS show House of Payne (2006) in 2011. Sherman Hemsley will be remembered as an actor who was on shows that addressed serious issues but also one who brought laughter into homes every week.
Isabel Sanford (Louise Jefferson) was born in 1917, in the Harlem section of New York, the youngest of seven children and sadly, the only one to survive infancy. Young Isabel always wanted to act. Her mother was against the idea, so she sneaked out of the house to perform in nightclubs. Despite winning third place in an amateur contest at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, she gave up her extracurricular activities and became a cleaning woman. Sanford moved to Los Angeles in 1960 to pursue a TV and film career. Three years later, TV producer Norman Lear cast Sanford in the recurring role of Louise “Weezy” Jefferson, Archie Bunker’s next door neighbor on the landmark TV comedy series All in the Family (1971). In 1975, the characters of Louise and husband George Jefferson (‘Sherman Hemsley’) were given their own spin-off TV show, The Jeffersons (1975). The series, about an African American couple who move from the working class Queens district of New York to Manhattan’s affluent Upper East Side, was a hit that ran for 11 seasons. In 1981, Sanford made history as the first African American woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. When the show was canceled in 1985, Sanford and Hemsley continued to appear together in TV commercials for Old Navy stores, Denny’s restaurants and Nick at Nite, the cable TV network then airing reruns of The Jeffersons (1975). In later years, she also made cameos on shows such as the TV comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990) and the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless (1973). In addition to her many Emmy nominations and one win, Sanford was honored with five Golden Globe nominations and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She passed away in 2004.
Marla Gibbs (Florence Johnston) Armed with an acid dry wit and a full arsenal of sarcasm and sass, African-American character comedienne Marla Gibbs showed up on 70’s TV with a bang in middle age (44). Landing the feisty maid role on the popular ground-breaking CBS comedy, The Jeffersons (1975), eventually led to her very own sitcom, 227 (1985), a decade later and international celebrity. A divorced mother with three children (Angela Elayne Gibbs, Dorian, Joseph) at the time of her initial success, it was a job transfer from Detroit to Los Angeles, while working as a United Airlines reservation clerk, that set up this more-than-welcome surprise and change of destiny. After only a couple of minor film parts, including the “blaxploitation” film, Black Belt Jones (1974), she nabbed the role of “Florence Johnston”. The maid was initially set up as a mere one-shot guest part but Marla showed the character’s potential. And, so it came to be that “Florence Johnston” became THE scene-stealing foil to Sherman Hemsley’s equally mouthy, money-minded “George Jefferson”. Until the show became a certified hit, Marla cautiously kept her job with the Airlines. With wisecracks and Emmy nominations (totaling 5) a plenty, however, Marla never had to look back. The role of “Florence” was a natural for a spin-off series and it happened with the sitcom, Checking In (1981), in which the character becomes a housekeeper for a very swanky hotel. The show was harmed, however, by a writer’s strike before it could gain a core audience. Fortunately for Marla, she was ushered right back into the Jefferson household following its quick demise (four episodes). Two months after the last “Jeffersons” episode aired in July of 1985, “227” was included in that year’s fall schedule.
Did You Know?
CBS never gave “The Jeffersons” a proper series finale. The cast, bitter that they never got a chance to say goodbye, reunited years later for a stage play based on the sitcom. Sherman Hemsley said he found out the show was canceled by reading it in the paper.
Like her character Helen, Actress Roxie Roker was married to a white husband in real life. During a casting interview, Roker was asked if she’d feel comfortable with her character having a white husband. She responded by showing the producers a photo of her husband.
When the show first started George constantly referred to Tom as a honky. After a few seasons Sherman Hemsley asked the writers to stop having George call him that, as he felt that the characters were friends and he felt George would not use a racist term on a friend. When the writers refused to stop Hemsley simply mumbled the the word every time he said it, forcing re-shoots. Eventually the writers stopped using the word.
Sherman Hemsley was the only actor to appear on all 253 episodes.
Florence was originally intended to be a recurring cast member, but the character became so popular with fans, that the producers made Marla Gibbs a series regular.
The picture on the Jeffersons desk by the telephone changes in every episode. It alternates between shots of Louise, George, Lionel, and Mother Jefferson.
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