In the mid-1960s, while working as a postman in Philadelphia, young Sherman Hemsley began taking acting lessons. After five years of service, Hemsley was granted a transfer to New York. He had his Broadway debut in 1970 in Purlie, and a couple of years later, Hemsley moved out to Hollywood. It wasn't long before he was offered the part of George Jefferson (replacing his "brother," Henry Jefferson) on All in the Family, and remained in that role for the next 12 years - 10 of them as the star of spin-off The Jeffersons.
Hemsley has acted steadily since the show's conclusion, including a five-year run on Amen, guest spots on Lois and Clark, Martin and Clueless, as well as a brief tour in "The Real Live Jeffersons" stage show.
George Jefferson and Archie Bunker are as different as they are the same. George is loud and opinionated like his neighbor, and as prejudiced against whites as Archie is against blacks. If the two of them ever stop to listen to what the other is saying, they'd be frightened by how similar they actually are. George owns a dry-cleaning business and is quite successful at it. Eventually, he opens a small chain of stores and "moves on up" to New York's East Side, leaving behind his blue-collar neighbor.
Though he's obsessed with money, George shows signs of generosity. When it comes to verbal fireworks, level-headed Louise and pig-headed George have quite a few knock-down, drag-outs. George initially despises his neighbors the Willises, but that eventually subsides in time: He stops calling Tom a "honky" and even goes into business with him. He's proud of his son Lionel and adores his granddaughter Jessica. He kowtows to his mother, often at Louise's expense. A navy veteran, his old war buddies appear from time to time - and sometimes complicate George's schemes.