Sherman Hemsley dead

Wednesday, July 25, 2012    

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TMZ is reporting Sherman Hemsley has died at his home in El Paso at the age of 74.

Hemsley, who had no wife or children, was discovered by his nurse who initially thought the actor was asleep.

Hemsley became famous portraying George Jefferson on "All in the Family" before landing a starring role in the spin-off "The Jeffersons."

The cause of death is unknown but sources believe Hemsley died of natural causes.

According to the El Paso Times, the star initially split his time between Los Angeles and El Paso, but preferred the Texas city's "peacefulness."

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hemsley got his break in show business in the early 1970s, making his Broadway debut in a production of the play Purlie, according to World Entertainment News Network.

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, WENN reports.

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 persuaded Lear to develop a spin-off series titled The Jeffersons in 1975, allowing the actor to really shine on camera.

The program 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.





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