The Jeffersons was all about an African-American couple that managed to move from Queens to Manhattan thanks to George’s dry-cleaning business and its overall success. The show was one that might have been dubbed controversial even today for its use of certain words and the subject material. The sad thing about this show is that upon its cancellation no one was even informed. Sherman Hemsley had to read about it in the newspaper and Isabel Sanford had to find out about it secondhand. It was a cheap way to go out to be honest, especially for a show that everyone tended to love for the most part. They didn’t even get to have a proper finale it came so abruptly, and there are still a few people that would bother to offer their theory of why the show was really shut down.
But it’s more interesting at this point to see what happened to the cast members.
Paul Benedict – Harry Bentley
Paul was a stage actor as well as a screen actor and was even a director for the theater at one time. One particular role that stands out for some folks however is that which he played on the Addams Family, the version starring Raul Julia and Angelica Huston. He plays the bad-tempered judge that has the misfortune of living too close to the Addams’ estate. Paul passed away in 2008 of unknown causes.
Franklin Cover – Tom Willis
Cover was a mainstay of the Jefferson’s and was a perfect foil to George. After the show he made a number of guest appearances on other TV shows and was even given a supporting role in Wall Street. He passed away in 2006 after a bout of pneumonia took hold.
Roxie Roker – Helen Willis
She had a fairly long career and Roxie was pretty popular for a while, but one of her greatest accomplishments was that she brought Lenny Kravitz into the world. It’s not everyone that can say that they managed to bring up such a talented and unique individual. Sadly Roxie passed away in 1995 from complications due to breast cancer.
Marla Gibbs – Florence Johnston
Marla is still around and is still active in movies as she hasn’t lost the fire that she had so long ago. Her career stems back to as early as the 1970s and she’s been enjoying her time spent on screen ever since with a few ups and downs that are common in life.
Sherman Hemsley – George Jefferson
George Jefferson was obviously his biggest and most well-known role but he was prominent throughout films and on TV as he guest-starred wherever he could get a spot. It was rare to hear anything about his personal life aside from the fact that he never married or had any kids. But Sherman was a pretty interesting person since he’d dropped out of school to join the Air Force and then worked as a postal carrier while trying to break into acting. Once he was there he was nonstop funny and plowed his way forward with the part of George Jefferson, the role that he’ll likely always be remembered for. Sadly, Sherman passed away in 2012 as a result of a mass that had been found on his lung.
Isabel Sanford – Louise Jefferson
The woman nicknamed “Weezy” was one of the best parts about the Jefferson’s. She not only kept George in check but she was just entertaining to watch and was so great that a lot of people tuned in for her from the start. But she wasn’t limited to this one show. Isabel’s career went on from the late 1960s and kept going until the year of her passing in 2004. Like Sherman she was able to guest-star in a wide array of shows and was also in a fairly good amount of movies as it’s been seen. Her list of credits might not be as long as some of those alive today but she still put in her work and made it known that she was here.
The Jefferson’s is still a show that you can see reruns of from time to time and people still appreciate the look back that offers a nostalgic view into a past that some people seem to be forgetting on a regular basis. The Jefferson’s weren’t perfect by any means but they certainly provided a great deal of entertainment and dealt with various issues that back in that day were considered to be very controversial. The kind of things that are run of the mill as of now were back in the time something you simply didn’t talk about in polite society and certainly didn’t make light of on the air. But heir show did this and more as they were allowed to display the kind of programming that today might be seen as less than subtle, but acceptable at least.