Actor Sherman Hemsley, best known for playing George Jefferson on the pathbreaking shows All in the Family and The Jeffersons, passed away a couple days ago at his home in El Paso, Texas. He grew up in Philadelphia, around 22nd and Christian, where he was the son of a single mother who worked in a factory. Though he found a love for acting as kid, success didn't come quickly. After the Air Force, he worked at the 30th Street post office by day and went to Philly's late Academy of Dramatic Arts at night.
From the Inquirer:
"I was acting on the side, doing plays around town, Society Hill Playhouse, Playhouse in the Park, Valley Forge Music Fair," he said. After about five years, he moved to New York City on the advice of the actor and director Robert Hooks, who had seen him a performance of The Blacks by Jean Genet at Society Hill. Good move. That was the start of a lengthy and successful career on TV and Broadway. But Hemsley never forgot his Philly roots; in fact, he used them to create the George Jefferson persona. The LA Times' Robert Lloyed offered an appreciation of Hemsley yesterday that paid particular attention to George Jefferson's walk: