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For Hemsley, who passed away yesterday at age 74 in El Paso, Texas, it was a measure of his acting talent that he could make George Jefferson’s irascible, rapid-fire sarcasm seem so authentic and natural.As a 1987 profile in the noted, when the Emmy winner spoke off camera, his words flowed quietly and carefully. the words just fall right into place,” Hemsley explained in a 2003 interview for the Archive of American Television.“Once you find the rhythm of the character, for me anyway . In some ways, Hemsley was a more remarkable rags-to-riches story than his signature character.
George Jefferson was the product of television producer Norman Lear’s imagination, a character powerful enough to earn its own spin-off sitcom, which ran for eleven seasons until its unceremonious cancellation in 1985.
The tension between Jefferson and Bunker was as much about their views on race, as it was the fact that they inhabited fundamentally different worlds.