Sherman Hemsley, best known as George Jefferson on the hit TV show The Jeffersons, has passed away at the age of 74 in El Paso. The actor -- who got his start in theater --also appeared on Amen, All in the Family and Dinosaurs. He was a constant presence in pop culture, making guest spots in music videos, commercials and sitcoms up until his death.
He was also a part of some of the biggest racial moments in TV history, going toe-to-toe with Archie Bunker on All in the Family and getting his own spin-off with The Jeffersons. Both roles and series challenged the preconceived notions that the TV world had been perpetuating when it came to African-American characters.
Bunker was a bigot who mellowed during the duration of the show, but his interactions with Mr. Jefferson smoothed the edges. On The Jeffersons, the family was thrust into a "deluxe apartment in the sky" and had to confront stereotypical white bigotry, but the messages were tempered with some of the best writing in sitcom history.
Hemsley also had one of the funniest slow-burns and tantrums in his acting tool belt, and was a prog-rock fan to boot, repping Gentle Giant, Nektar and Gong. He even worked with Yes's Jon Anderson on a "funk-rock opera" along the way.