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Tue, 02.01.1938

Sherman Hemsley, Actor born

Sherman Hemsley

*Sherman Hemsley was born on February this date in 1938. He was a Black actor.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sherman Alexander Hemsley was the son of William Hemsley who worked at a printing press and his mother who was a factory worker, working at various factories during World War II. As a child Hemsley was introduced to acting during school, where the teachers would ask students to play different characters. His first play was in school and it was about fire prevention, and he played the fire. Hemsley eventually dropped out of school and joined the air force and never considered acting as a profession until after the military.

After the military, Hemsley then moved to New York City; he worked as a post office clerk during the day and actor during the night. He then joined The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), which was founded by Robert Hooks. His former co-star, Roxie Roker was also part of the NEC alumni. NEC had workshops that would help actors/actresses get roles on theater, television, and film. Hemsley made his professional acting debut on the Broadway play, Purlie and toured with the show for a year. In 1971,while on tour for the Purlie production, he received a call from producer/creator/writer Norman Lear. Norman Lear wanted Hemsley to do an audition for a role, which was going to be apart of his sit-com, All In The Family. Due to Hemsley's Purlie project commitment he declined the role. Lear left the role open for him; Hemsley joined the cast two years later.

Hemsley and co-star, Isabel Sanford did a spin off of the show All In The Family, called The Jeffersons. Several spin-offs resulted from All In The Family, which was seen to the world as comedic genius, and some shows spoke the hardcore truth about poverty, racism, discrimination and other issues that had been condemning mankind. Despite the age difference between the two entertainers, Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford (twenty years apart), many described their on-screen marriage unconditional and truly hilarious. Hemsley was nominated for a Golden Globe for his outstanding performance as George Jefferson. The Jeffersons turned out to be a success spanning out eleven seasons and ended in 1985.

In 1986 Hemsley joined the NBC sitcom, Amen as religious deacon, Ernest Frye. The show ran for five seasons ending in 1991. He then made his debut as a voice actor being apart of the ABC live action-puppet series, Dinosaurs as Bradley P. Richfield, Earl's cruel boss. The show ran successfully for four seasons. Sanford and Hemsley made television guest appearances on television programs such as The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air and were in commercials for The Gap, Old Navy, and Denny's dry cleaning. Hemsley and Marla Gibbs guest starred in 2011 on the TBS hit-show, House Of Payne.

Sherman Hemsley died on July 24, 2012 in El Paso, TX. He will be remembered as an actor who was on shows that addressed serious issues yet would still be remembered as an actor who brought laughter into families homes.

To become an Actor or Actress


Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Academy Foundation
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Phone: 310-247-3000

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