Interesting Things You Never Knew About “The Jeffersons”
By 1975, All In the Family was into its fifth season and had established itself as one of America’s favorite–if not controversial–TV shows. But it wasn’t alone in grabbing TV viewers’ attention: The Jeffersons, an All in the Family spin-off, became the No. 4 show on television in its inaugural year.
The comedy, which centered around a laundromat entrepreneur who strikes it rich through his business endeavors, graced TV screens for 11 successful seasons. Developed by Norman Lear, who was known for pushing creative boundaries and knocking down barriers, The Jeffersons was as groundbreaking as it was comedic, and audiences loved it.
Here are some lesser-known facts about this iconic program that left an indelible mark on the TV landscape.
Isabel Sanford Won A Lead Actress In A Comedy Emmy–A First For A Black Woman
Isabel Sanford, in her role as Louise Jefferson, became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She was only the second Black American actress to be awarded a Primetime Emmy.
The First Sitcom To Feature A Transgender Character
Transgender individuals were hardly, if ever, seen in TV comedies or dramas of the time. But in The Jeffersons’ episode titled “Once a Friend,” George meets up with his old Navy buddy Eddie, who has transitioned and now goes by the name of Edie.
Lenny Kravitz’s Mother Had A Feature Role On The Show
Roxie Roker, who played Helen Willis on the show, is the mother of Lenny Kravitz. In a 1980 issue of Ebony, Roker explained her approach to mothering then-16-year-old Leonard. “I take care of my kid in as normal a fashion as possible, as I think that is healthy. I cook the meals because I’m the momma,” said Roker. Lenny would go on to carve out a dynamic and award-winning musical career and receive four Grammy awards in the process.
In Later Years, The Jeffersons Appeared On The Fresh Prince and House of Payne
In the 1996 series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, George and Louise Jefferson graced the sitcom with their presence; the storyline centered around their intent to purchase the Banks family home. Fifteen years later, Sherman Hemsley and Marla Gibbs, who played Florence Johnston on The Jeffersons, appeared in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, which became the longest-running American sitcom featuring a primarily black cast, beating out The Jeffersons by only one episode.
Lionel: The First ‘Jefferson’ To Appear On Network Television
The character of Lionel Jefferson, played by Mike Evans, appears in the inaugural episode of All in the Family, “Meet the Bunkers.” The character of Louise, Lionel’s mother, would make an appearance during the first season of All in the Family. Although George Jeffersons was mentioned frequently in the series about the Bunkers, Sherman Hemsley didn’t appear on All in the Family as George Jefferson for several years.
Sherman Hemsley Worked As A Postman
Before he became a successful actor, Sherman Hemsley held the position of postman in Philadelphia. He eventually moved to New York City to pursue his acting dream but continued to work for the postal service until he secured more acting opportunities.
If you’d like to see exactly where the Jeffersons were movin’ on up, look up their address in New York on 185 E. 85th Street. The apartment complex, built in Manhattan during the 1960s, is known as Park Lane and features distinctive round outdoor balconies.