Sherman Alexander Hemsley, the actor who made the character George Jefferson famous in the groundbreaking TV show The Jeffersons, died today (July 24) at the age of 74.
TMZ reports that the actor died of natural causes in his El Paso, Texas home, and that he leaves behind no spouse or children.
Hemsley first gained notoriety as a regular on All in the Family before starring in the show's spin-off series The Jeffersons.
Born in Philadelphia, Hemsley made his acting debut in a local theater, which led to his first breakthrough role on Broadway. While on Broadway, he was discovered by television mogul Norman Lear and offered the part of George Jefferson on All in the Family. Within two years, he was given his own spin-off series The Jeffersons, co-starring Isabel Sanford. The series earned Hemsley Emmy and Golden Globe nominations in 1984 and 1985.
Hemsley also starred as Deacon Ernest Frye on sitcom Amen, as well as guest-starred on many other series, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.and Tyler Perry's House of Payne. He was also a singer, having released a single on Sutra Records called "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" in 1989. He also released Dance, an R&B album in 1992.
After retiring from television acting, Hemsley joined Sanford through the late '90s and early 2000's, reprising their roles as George and Louise "Weezy" Jefferson on guest spots and TV commercials. The duo appeared in commercials for Old Navy, Gap and Denny's. Sanford died in 2004 at age 86.
Rest in Peace to Sherman Hemsley, an African American screen legend (February 1, 1938 - July 24, 2012).