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Sherman Hemsley, the actor who entertained millions, but strangely was only ever honored with a single Emmy award nomination, has died.
Hemsley, 74, was found in his home in El Paso, Texas, Tuesday. No cause of death has been determined.
He was born Feb. 1, 1938 in Philadelphia. He would drop out of high school and join the U.S. Air Force during the Korean Conflict, but would return to Philadelphia after a four-year enlistment to begin working at the U.S. Post Office.
Hemsley took night classes to study acting, and later moved to New York City to pursue his dream of becoming a stage actor. But while on the stage, in a play called "Purlie," Hemsley got a call from producer Norman Lear who wanted the actor to take on the role he had written of George Jefferson in the hit sitcom "All in the Family." It would take two years for Hemsley to take the role, mostly because he didn't want to leave theater, but once he did, the pairing of himself and Isabel Sanford would be an instant hit on the show.
The characters were spun off in 1975 in their own series, "The Jeffersons," which would run until 1985. Hemsley and Sanford -- despite a 20 years age difference between the two -- were considered one of television's top couples, The audience was moving on up with the show through most of that, allowing it to peak at No. 3 on the Nielsen chart during the 1981-82 season, after spending a couple of years outside the top 30 in the late 1970s.
After "The Jeffersons," Hemsley didn't stay out of television for long. He would sign on to play a church deacon in what would become a popular sitcom "Amen," which would run five seasons through 1991.
He would later voice B.P. Richfield in the series "Dinosaurs" through 1994, and then depend on character acting work the rest of his career on shows such as "Family Matters," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and later "The Hughleys." His last television appearance would be in 2011, as George Jefferson, in "House of Payne."
Hemsley never married, and never had any children. He earned an Emmy nomination in 1984 for "The Jeffersons," losing out to John Ritter from "Three's Company."
Among the primary cast of "The Jeffersons," Sanford died in 2004 at the age of 86, her last appearance coming in a 2002 episode of "The Young and the Restless." Marla Gibbs, who played the maid Florence, is still quite busy at 82 in projects like "Madea's Witness Protection" and the pilot "The First Family."
Roxie Roker, who played Helen Willis over 193 episodes, died in 1995 at the age of 66. Franklin Cover, who played Helen's husband Tom Willis, died in 2006 at the age of 77. His last screen appearance was in a 1999 episode of "Will & Grace."
Paul Benedict, who played neighbor Harry Bentley, died in 2008 at the age of 70 in Martha's Vineyard.
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