Sherman Hemsley’s Cause of Death: How the Beloved Actor Died

Sherman Hemsley was a popular American actor who starred in several sitcoms, most notably as George Jefferson in The Jeffersons and Deacon Ernest Frye in Amen. He also voiced B.P. Richfield in the animated series Dinosaurs and appeared in many other shows and movies. He was known for his comedic talent, his distinctive voice, and his memorable catchphrases. But how did he die and what was his cause of death?

Early Life and Career

Sherman Alexander Hemsley was born on February 1, 1938, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was raised by his mother, who worked in a lamp factory, and did not meet his father until he was 14 years old. He attended Barrat Middle School and Bok Technical High School, but dropped out after the tenth grade to join the United States Air Force, where he served for four years.

After leaving the Air Force, Hemsley returned to Philadelphia and worked as a postal clerk during the day while attending the Academy of Dramatic Arts at night. He then moved to New York City, where he continued to work for the post office while pursuing an acting career. He made his Broadway debut in 1970 as Gitlow in the musical Purlie, and toured with the show for a year.

In 1971, he was contacted by producer Norman Lear, who wanted him to play the role of George Jefferson, a successful black businessman who moves from a working-class neighborhood to a luxury apartment with his wife Louise (played by Isabel Sanford) in the sitcom All in the Family. Hemsley was reluctant to leave his theater role, but Lear promised to keep the role open for him. Two years later, Hemsley joined the cast of All in the Family and became an instant hit with audiences.

The Jeffersons and Beyond

In 1975, Hemsley and Sanford were given their own spin-off show, The Jeffersons, which followed the lives of George and Louise Jefferson and their neighbors in their upscale Manhattan building. The show was a huge success, running for 11 seasons and earning Hemsley a Golden Globe nomination and an Emmy nomination for his performance as George Jefferson. He also won an NAACP Image Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series or Special in 1982.

After The Jeffersons ended in 1985, Hemsley continued to work steadily on television and film. He starred as Deacon Ernest Frye, a lawyer and church leader, in the NBC sitcom Amen from 1986 to 1991. He also voiced B.P. Richfield, a tyrannical boss of a dinosaur family, in the ABC series Dinosaurs from 1991 to 1994. He also played Judge Carl Robertson on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and guest-starred on many other shows such as Family Matters, Sister Sister, The Hughleys, and The Bernie Mac Show.

Hemsley also had a career as a singer and released a single called “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” in 1989. He also released an R&B album called Dance in 1992. He performed with various bands and artists over the years, including Jon Anderson of Yes and En Vogue.

Hemsley reunited with Sanford several times throughout the years to reprise their roles as George and Louise Jefferson on various shows and commercials. They appeared on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1996, on The Steve Harvey Show in 1997, and on commercials for Old Navy, Gap, and Denny’s.

Death and Legacy

Hemsley died on July 24, 2012, at his home in El Paso, Texas. He was 74 years old. According to Ebony, he died from a complication of lung cancer known as superior vena cava syndrome, which occurs when a tumor or other obstruction blocks the blood flow from the upper body to the heart.

Hemsley’s death was met with sadness and shock by his fans and colleagues. Many celebrities paid tribute to him on social media and expressed their admiration for his work and personality. His former co-stars Sanford, Marla Gibbs, Clifton Davis, Jackee Harry, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, D.L. Hughley, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, Niecy Nash, Sherri Shepherd, Wendy Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Barack Obama ,and Michelle Obama were among those who honored him.

Hemsley was cremated and his ashes were buried at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso, Texas, on November 21, 2012. He had no wife or children, and his estate was contested by his half-brother and a former manager who claimed to be his partner. The dispute was resolved in 2013, when a judge ruled that Hemsley’s will, which left his estate to his friend and business partner Flora Enchinton Bernal, was valid.

Hemsley is remembered as one of the most iconic and influential actors in television history. His portrayal of George Jefferson broke stereotypes and barriers for black actors and comedians, and inspired generations of performers. His comedic timing, his physical humor, his facial expressions, and his catchphrases such as “Weezy”, “honky”, and “moving on up” are still widely recognized and quoted today. He is also celebrated for his musical talent and his warm and generous personality. He is regarded as a legend and a pioneer in the entertainment industry, and his legacy lives on through his work and his fans.

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