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September 22, 2014

'The Jeffersons' Cast: Where Are They Now?

by Kim Potts, posted Jan 13th 2010 4:00PM
The Jeffersons where are they nowThere's a sad footnote to this trip down primetime memory lane: only a handful of the original stars of 'The Jeffersons' are still alive.

But a look back at the characters we knew and loved on this 'All in the Family' spin-off -- in which Sherman Hemsley's George Jefferson was thought of as the black version of Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker -- is sure to put a smile on fans' faces, as will updates on how the stars spent their post-'Jeffersons' careers, from cartoons and daytime soaps to Grand Slam breakfast commercials and Christopher Guest movies.
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Updates on George, Louise and the Gang

There's a sad footnote to this trip down primetime memory lane: only a handful of the original stars of 'The Jeffersons' are still alive. But a look back at the characters we knew and loved on this 'All in the Family' spin-off -- in which Sherman Hemsley's George Jefferson was thought of as the black version of Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker -- is sure to put a smile on fans' faces, as will updates on how the stars spent their post-'Jeffersons' careers, from cartoons and daytime soaps to Grand Slam breakfast commercials and Christopher Guest movies.

CBS / Landov

Sherman Hemsley (George Jefferson)
Then: After the former Philadelphia postal worker moved to NYC to pursue acting, he was chosen by 'Jeffersons' creator Norman Lear to play money-hungry George, whose successful dry cleaning shop allowed his family to move on up to a dee-luxe city abode. The bigoted snob who still, deep-down, had a generous heart became one of TV's most beloved sitcom characters.

CBS / Landov

Sherman Hemsley (George Jefferson)
Now: Post-'Jeffersons,' Hemsley went on to star in another hit sitcom, 'Amen,' and guest on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,' 'Family Matters' and 'Family Guy.' Hemsley has also been a reality TV fixture on 'Surreal Life' and more, starred with fellow cast members in a stage version of 'Jeffersons' and, most recently, played a pastor in the direct-to-DVD sequel 'American Pie: The Book of Love.'

Jean Baptiste Lacroix, WireImage

Isabel Sanford (Louise Jefferson)
Then: Sanford became the first black woman to win the Emmy for lead comedy actress, for her portrayal of infinitely patient "Weezie." Like Louise, Sanford had worked as a cleaning woman before her showbiz career kicked off and ended up being nominated for seven Emmys. Creator Norman Lear cast her after seeing her in the big-screen classic 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.'

CBS / Landov

Isabel Sanford (Louise Jefferson)
Now: Sanford died in 2004, but not before earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and continuing to reprise her Louise role (often with Hemsley), on sitcoms like 'Roseanne.' As George and Louise, guest starred in the series finale of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,' where they buy the Banks family's California mansion.

Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

Marla Gibbs (Florence Johnston)
Then: Florence was supposed to be a one-episode role (which is why Gibbs kept her United Airlines job until 'The Jeffersons' became a hit), but fans quickly warmed to the feisty maid's love-hate relationship with employer George. Gibbs ended up earning five supporting actress Emmy nominations.

CBS / Landov

Marla Gibbs (Florence Johnston)
Now: After starring in the short-lived 'Jeffersons' spin-off, 'Checking In,' Gibbs bought the rights to a play called '227' -- which her daughter turned into a five-season NBC hit sitcom (and for which Gibbs also co-wrote and sang the theme song). She's also made memorable guest appearances on 'Dawson's Creek,' 'The King of Queens,' 'Passions' and, most recently, 'Lincoln Heights.'

Michael Bezjian, WireImage

Mike Evans (Lionel Jefferson I)
Then: Evans originated the role of the Jeffersons' only child on 'All in the Family,' where Lionel often sparred with Archie Bunker. He was also a writer who helped create another '70s sitcom hit, 'Good Times,' and left 'The Jeffersons' at the end of season 1 to concentrate on that show. He returned for season 6, when Jenny and Lionel were about to have a baby.
Now:After working on two of the biggest sitcom hits of the 1970s, Evans mostly dropped out of the Hollywood scene and focused investing in real estate. He died in 2006 after a battle with throat cancer.

CBS / Landov

Damon Evans (Lionel Jefferson II)
Then: Evans (no relation to Lionel I, Mike Evans) took over the role in seasons 2-4, when the Jeffersons' son moved into his own apartment and, after a lot of interference from their parents, married Jenny Willis.
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Now:A trained opera singer, Evans has spent his post-'Jeffersons' years in the theater, on Broadway and around the country with various musicals. He also played the young Alex Haley in 'Roots: The Next Generations.'

CBS / Landov

Roxie Roker (Helen Willis)
Then: The former NBC secretary and TV reporter landed the role of Helen, Louise's best friend and one half of the interracial couple the Willises, who would be the constant butt of George's jokes. Helen was one of George's most formidable foes, though, who often commented on his height (or lack thereof). The Willises were groundbreaking as the first interracial couple to be regularly featured on a primetime sitcom.

CBS / Landov

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