The Jeffersons star Sherman Hemsley has died at the age of 74.
The actor passed away at his home in El Paso, Texas on Tuesday (24Jul12). He is believed to have died from natural causes, according to TMZ.com.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hemsley got his break in showbusiness in the early 1970s, making his Broadway debut in a production of the play Purlie.
It was during his stage stint that he caught the eye of American TV writer and producer Norman Lear, who reached out to Hemsley and asked him to star as George Jefferson in new sitcom All in the Family.
Hemsley was reluctant to quit the theatre and held off on the role for two years before taking Lear up on the standing offer.
Although Jefferson was just a secondary character on the show, Hemsley’s comedic timing convinced Lear to develop a spin-off series titled The Jeffersons in 1975, allowing the actor to really shine on camera.
The programme became one of Lear’s most successful projects and remains the longest-running sitcom with a predominantly black cast in U.S. TV history, airing from 1975 to 1985.
Hemsley’s other TV credits include 1980s show Amen and puppet series Dinosaurs, while he also made guest appearances on Will Smith’s TV hit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
He also enjoyed a stint as a professional singer and released a single in 1989, titled Ain’t that A Kick in the Head.
Further details surrounding his passing were unavailable as WENN went to press.
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