Isabel Sanford

Actor, Data processing clerk
Isabel Sanford will always be known as Louise Jefferson, the woman who stood by and worked alongside her man (George) until they became rich only to have to keep reeling him in from going haywire for the rest of their ... Read more »
Born: 08/28/1917 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (50)

CBS at 75: A Primetime Celebration 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

The Simpsons 2004 (Tv Show)

Voice

The Parkers 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

TV Guide's Truth Behind the Sitcoms 4 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

The 2nd Annual Family Television Awards 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

TV Moms at Home 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Teen Angel 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Sprung 1997 (Movie)

(cameo appearance) (Actor)

Cybill 1992 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

In the House 1992 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Living Single 1992 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman 1992 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Original Gangstas 1996 (Movie)

Gracie Bookman (Actor)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 1992 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Steve Harvey Show 1993 - 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Hangin' With Mr. Cooper 1993 - 1995 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Ben Stiller Show 1994 - 1995 (Tv Show)

Actor

South Beach 1994 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Pup Named Scooby Doo 1988 - 1993 (TV Show)

Voice

Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog 1989 (Movie)

Joanna (Actor)

The 1987 Miss Universe Pageant 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The 1st Annual American Comedy Awards 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

You Are the Jury 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The Jeffersons 1975 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Circus of the Stars 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

That's TV 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

The Shape of Things 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

All in the Family 1970 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Desperate Moves 1979 (Movie)

Dottie Butz (Actor)

Love At First Bite 1979 (Movie)

Judge (Actor)

Dean's Place 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Bewitched 1964 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

Hickey and Boggs 1972 (Movie)

Nyona's Mother (Actor)

Lady Sings the Blues 1972 (Movie)

The Madame (Actor)

Up the Sandbox 1972 (Movie)

(Actor)

The New Centurions 1971 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Comic 1969 (Movie)

Woman (Actor)

The Red, White and Black 1969 (Movie)

(Actor)

Pendulum 1968 (Movie)

Effie (Actor)

The Young Runaways 1968 (Movie)

Sarah (Actor)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1966 (Movie)

Tillie (Actor)

Dream On (TV Show)

Actor

Honeymoon Hotel (TV Show)

Actor

Jackie's Back! (TV Show)

Actor

The Great Man's Whiskers (TV Show)

Actor

The Love Boat (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Isabel Sanford will always be known as Louise Jefferson, the woman who stood by and worked alongside her man (George) until they became rich only to have to keep reeling him in from going haywire for the rest of their married lives. Sanford created the role of Louise as a neighbor to Archie Bunker and a friend for Edith on "All in the Family" from 1971-75, then went with the spin-off series "The Jeffersons" from 1975-85. Throughout all those years, Sanford could say more with her eyes and with her impeccable comic timing than needed to be said with words.

Sanford's story is the kind that show biz folks love to hear because it gives the long-time struggling players hope. After schooling in New York, she joined the Star Players (later the American Negro Theatre) in the 30s, performing with them until World War II interceded and the theatre temporarily disbanded. After the war, Sanford had familial obligations that put her career on hold. But her husband's death put a fire back into Sanford's dream. With three children to support, she worked as a data processor by day and acted as she could in the evening and acquiring a life-long frugality about which even she now jokes.

Sanford made it to the Broadway stage in James Baldwin's "The Amen Corner," and, in 1967 was given her film debut by producer-director Stanley Kramer in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" In it, Sanford was the ever-loyal housekeeper of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy who does not know what to make of this "Negro" doctor who wants to marry their daughter and gives him (Sidney Poitier) "what-fer" just to make sure he's on the level. While the role of the maid was in stark contrast to the supposed liberalism of Hepburn and Tracy in the film--as was its point--Sanford offered a grand performance in what might be the last of the great strong, humorless black domestics, a tradition, for better or worse, in American films and TV until the Civil Rights era.

Sanford remained in Hollywood after "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and appeared in the feature "Pendulum" (1969) as well as making appearances on "The Carol Burnett Show" from 1967-69, not as a guest star, but rather as a stock player in some skits. In one such parody, Sanford was "Beulah," the only non-white member of The King Family (a singing clan of the 60s). She also appeared on episodes of "Julia" as a woman who berated Diahann Carroll to make sure the widowed nurse wasn't turning her son Corey into an 'Oreo.' In 1971 came "All in the Family." Sanford's role was, at first, recurring, but as the producers could use her as a friend to Edith, it increased. "The Jeffersons" followed, with Sanford winning an Emmy in 1981 for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, the first African-American woman to win in that category in the history of the awards. In addition, she drewsix other Emmy nominiations and five Golden Globe nominations through the run of the show.

At the height of her "Jeffersons" popularity, Sanford made guest appearances on other shows and specials and appeared in the 1979 film "Love at First Bite" in what was essentially a cameo. Other film roles include playing the Harlem madam who carries a spittoon and takes a young Billie Holliday under her wing in "Lady Sings the Blues" (1972) and appearing as Fred Williamson's mother in the 1996 comedy "Original Gangstas." In 1993, Sanford reunited with the original cast members of "The Jeffersons" for a stage version of the series, in which they re-created three popular episodes of the show. She and Hemsley also teamed for cameo appearances in the feature films "Jane Austen's Mafia!" and "Sprung," as well as appearing together in commercial campaigns in recent years for Old Navy and Denny's restaurants, among others.

Relationships

Josephine Sanford

Mother

Pamela Richmond

Daughter

Sanford Keith Richmond

Son

William Eric Richmond

Son

James Edward Sanford

Father

William Richmond

Husband
deceased

Milestones

2004

Guest-starred as herself on the animated series "The Simpsons"

1996

Co-starred in "Original Gangstas"

1975

Starred on hit sitcom "The Jeffersons"

1972

Played Harlem Madam in "Lady Sings the Blues"

1970

Created role of Louise Jefferson on "All in the Family"

1967

Feature debut, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"

1965

After hiatus of numerous years returned to the stage and made her Broadway debut in "The Amen Corner" (after first appearing in the LA production); cast included Beah Richards (with whom she would act again in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner")

In 1930s, was member of The Star Players, later called The American Negro Theatre

Bonus Trivia

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"If there's anything in life you consider worthwhile achieving--go for it. I was told many times to forget show business, I had nothing going for me. But I pursued it anyway. Voila!" --Isabel Sanford in "Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television" Volume 2

.

Isabel Sanford, who is fondly remembered as Louise (or "Weezie") from TV’s "The Jeffersons," got her star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame on January 16, 2004 People January 19, 2004

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