July 24, 2014

Rest In Peace: Sherman Hemsley (1928-2012)

Sherman Hemsley was an actor that we didn't appreciate as much as we should. I suspect that we will end up appreciating him more in death than we did in life. He died at the age of 74. He had no wife or children.

He made a good living as an actor after spending four years in the Air Force and eight years working at the post office. Hemsley made a name for himself as George Jefferson, carrying the iconic sitcom for a decade and earning a 1984 Emmy nomination for his work as lead actor in a comedy series. He also starred as Deacon Ernest Frye on the NBC series "Amen" for several years.

Sherman Hemsley created his own future with the energy and creativity that he gave to his supporting character on 'All In The Family'. He was a great foil to 'Archie Bunker's white supremacist attitude as the Black neighbor. Hemsley's brilliance led to a spin-off situation comedy called 'The Jefferson'.

His bodacious portrayal of a successful Black entrepreneur trying to 'move on up' hit home for many of us ... he had a successful marriage in that show and he raised a good son in a tradition nuclear family. His comedic genius was evident in each episode ... and he showed a different side of Black America that hadn't been seen before on prime-time television.

I suspect that there never would have been a Huxtable family in the 'Cosby Show' if George Jefferson hadn't been so great in 'The Jeffersons'.

Rest In Peace Mr. Hemsley!

5 comments:

Reggie said...

I honestly thought that he was already dead.

Villager said...

Reggie - Like I said ... he has been under-appreciated in many ways. I think it is sad that he never had any children.

blacknouveauwoman said...

Yes, it was a major shock to me when I heard that he passed. Also, it was a shock that in real life, he was not a family man. The Uptown article states the he had no wife or kids. This is a nice way of stating that he was a DL Brotha or Gay Black man, I think. Interestingly, he kept his relationship out of the public eye. His death helps me realize the reality of the shortness of life on earth. Yes, RIP Brotha.

Villager said...

Black Nouveau Woman - It is nice to know that his sexual orientation really has no place in his obituary. He did good work while on earth and he will be remembered with a smile by many in America. ...and you're right, tomorrow is not promised to any of us!

Ken Sherman said...

Black Nouveau Woman: It is fascinating to me that the overwhelming responses for someone who hasn't been married, doesn't have a wife or any kids is gay or subtly gay. To each their own culture I guess. I can't help the level of naivety that this form of thinking implies or shows. Not every 'single' being, on the almost 10 billion populated Earth, will be married, stay married and/or will have kids and that does not (have to) mean that they are automatically gay or undercover gay. Life does not always have to be about the status quo. I did a blog about him in the summer of 2012 and he was famous for something in every decade since the 70s (for those who are really in 'tune' with culture in my opinion). It helps that he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame last year. And I am not just saying that because of our name similarities. He will surely be missed!

Notable works:

1970s - All in the Family; The Jeffersons
1980s - Amen;
1990s - Dinosaurs (That "Knock the mama!" show; The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Aughties/2000s - a variety of shows/guest appearances
2010s (close enough)- American Pie Presents: The Book of Love