The Jeffersons Movin On Up

cast the jeffersons

“Cast of the Jeffersons”

Remember the adorable little strut when George Jefferson walked into a room?  What about the way he usually referred to his wife as Weezy?

George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) and his wife Louise (Isabel Sanford) were an upper middle black family living in New York City with their son Lionel.   The show was a spin-off of “All In The Family.

The Jefferson’s were living in a working class neighborhood in a house next door to the Bunkers.  George was involved in a car accident when someone rear ended his car.  He received a settlement which allowed him to open a dry cleaning business.  The business was successful and grew to seven shops allowing he and his family to “move on up to the east side to a deluxe apartment in the sky”.

Because she had previously worked as a domestic Louise was hesitant to hire a maid when George wanted one.  Eventually George prevailed and Florence Henderson became their very religious, wise cracking, back talking domestic.  Florence often teased George about his receding hair line and his short stature.

In the apartment building their friendly next door neighbor was a British gentleman named Henry Bentley.  He often referred to the Jefferson’s as Mr. J and Mrs. J.  Mr. Bentley worked for the United Nations as an interpreter of Russian.  Often when Mr. Bentley came to the door of the Jefferson apartment George would slam the door in his face in mid conversation.  Sometimes George was enlisted to walk on Mr. Bentley’s bad back since his weight was the same as a Japanese woman who had walked on Bentley’s back in the past.

George’s mother Olivia (known as Mother Jefferson) gave Louise a hard time. She didn’t think Louise was being a good wife.  “Mother” Jefferson appeared regularly early in the series.  Later she just appeared off and on.  Finally, in the fifth season it was mentioned that “Mother” Jefferson had died.

Other neighbors in the apartment building with whom Louise became friendly were the Willis family.  Helen and Tom Willis were an interracial couple with two children.  George sometimes referred to these children as “zebras”.  The son, Alan, dropped out of college and took off for Paris where he passed himself as Caucasian.  The daughter, Jenny, aspired to be a fashion designer.

Jenny Willis and Lionel Jefferson fell in love and were married in 1976.  They later had a daughter Jessica.  Unfortunately the marriage did not last and the couple divorced in 1985.

“The Jefferson’s ” ran for 11 seasons from January 1975 through June 1985.  The series was one of the longest running sitcoms in American television with a mainly black cast.

During its run, actors on “The Jefferson’s” were nominated for 13 Emmy Awards.  Isabel Sanford (Louise Jefferson) won an Emmy for Best Actress in 1981.


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