‘Jeffersons’ Actor Sherman Hemsley Dead at 74

TV's George Jefferson, Sherman Hemsley, was found dead at his El Paso home today:

HemsleyThe cause of death was unclear but TMZ cited anonymous sources who said it appeared to be natural causes. TMZ said he was discovered by his nurse, who first thought he was sleeping.

Hemsley did not have a wife or children.

Hemsley, who first played George Jefferson on All in the Family, became a star with the successful spinoff The Jeffersons. He was among the small number of black actors who pioneered leading roles in successful sitcoms. He also played Deacon Ernest Frye on Amen.


  1. Paul in Honlulu says

    It’s no secret that Hemsley was gay. Everyone in the entertainment business has known it for years, and he never hid his sexuality.

  2. Zlick says

    Well, here goes my Sherman Hemsley story.

    A law office I used to work for represented him. During that representation, we moved from the ground floor to – yep – the Penthouse. And the first time Sherman came up to our Penthouse office, the minute he walked in the door – 3 people on the staff spontaneously burst into the “Movin’ On Up” song and, within seconds, everyone else in the office joined in. Sherman laughed his head off. One of my favorite office memories. RIP Mr. Hemsley.

  3. JSH says

    Sad to hear that he’s moved on up to that deee-luxe apartment in the sky along with Weezy, Mother Jefferson, one of the Lionels, Tom and Helen Willis, and Mr Bentley…

  4. ratbastard says

    I’ve seen him being interviewed a few times and he impressed me as being a warm, decent guy. R.I.P

    And is the references in the news to his being a life-long bachelor with no children a veiled reference about his sexual orientation?

  5. RJG says

    I’ve heard rumours about him being gay for years.I have a friend that said he met the guy that played the second Lionel (The one without the afro) in a gay bar,and they flirted with each other.I heard that Sherman was a much more quiet and reserved person than the characters he played on ‘The Jeffersons’and ‘Amen”.R.I.P. Mr.Hemsley.The Jeffersons is and will always be one of my favorite shows.’

  6. Gregv says

    I had never (before now) heard any rumors about him being gay (or anything else). But to me TMZ”s wording is not sensible. Why not just tell us whether he was single or had a partner? To say that he “did not have a wife or children ” only answers who his family WASN’T, rather than who they were.
    It is the rough equivalent of saying that he “did not have a short husband” (did he have a tall one?) or “did not have a daughter” or “did not have a cat” or “did not have a nephew.”
    Tell us about his 7-foot tall husband or his son or his dog or his five nieces; don’t just report cryptically about who he DIDN’T have.

  7. David says

    I read years ago about his long-time live-in “male companion”….the actor who played “Willis” (Franklin Cover) was also gay, as is the 2nd “Lionel”…Once the straight public realizes we are everywhere, it will lead to more acceptance.

  8. RIPSherman says

    He was gay, and though he was fairly open about it amongst friends, he never came out publicly. So the obit writers are forced to write things like ‘he had no wife or children’ so that we get some inkling that we have lost a wonderfully talented gay man who was loved by millions. A gay black man who the world should know was gay so that more hearts and minds might be changed. That’s just one more reason why people, especially celebrities, should come out.

  9. anon says

    George Jefferson was the black Archie Bunker and a much better character than many of the other black male leads in the 70’s. The Jeffersons, Good Times and Sanford and Son were breakthrough shows that we have yet to see with gay characters, even after nearly 40 years. We are still in the equivalent of 60’s TV with gay characters.

  10. Will Frazee says

    I got to know Sherman Heamsley after numerous years of production on The Jeffersons. He was a good guy and and kept his private life respectful. He liked to introduce people and see what would happen plus he was very loyal to his friends. This man will be remembered by many for his talent which opened many minds via television and in person; for show casing his honest character. Sherman was a unique man who had lots to share and much to teach society.

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