ABOUT THE SHOW
The Jeffersons is an American sitcom that was broadcast on CBS from January 18, 1975, through July 2, 1985, lasting 11 seasons and a total of 253 episodes.
During the January 11, 1975 episode of All in the Family, titled "The Jeffersons Move Up", Edith Bunker gave a tearful good-bye to her neighbor Louise Jefferson, as she and her husband George, and their son Lionel, moved from a working class section of Queens into a luxury apartment in Manhattan. The Jeffersons premiered the following week, January 18, 1975, and 253 episodes were produced and aired during its 11-year run.
George's career as a dry-cleaner began in the first season of All in the Family, in the episode "Oh, My Aching Back" (though the character himself did not appear on-camera). After his car was rear-ended by a bus, he filed a civil action and won enough to open his first store. At the beginning of The Jeffersons he was operating five stores throughout New York City, with another two opening during the following seasons. Louise made friends with Tom and Helen Willis, an interracial couple with two adult children of their own (whom George insultingly called "zebras"): son Allan (played by Andrew Rubin in the first season finale, and by Jay Hammer throughout season 5), a zealous college drop-out who abandoned the family, passed as Caucasian and lived in Paris for two years; and daughter Jenny, an aspiring fashion designer. Jenny and Lionel became a couple, were married on December 24, 1976, and later became the parents of a daughter, Jessica (played in later seasons by Ebonie Smith). Lionel and Jenny experienced marital issues, and divorced in the winter of 1985.
Marla Gibbs portrayed the role of Florence Johnston, the Jeffersons' back-talking, wisecracking, and devoutly religious housekeeper. Florence often teased George, mostly about his short stature and receding hairline.
Paul Benedict arrived as Harry Bentley, a loyal, kind, handsome, friendly British next-door neighbor, who worked as a Russian language interpreter at the United Nations. A common sight-gag of the show was George slamming the door in Bentley's face mid-conversation. Bentley also had a bad back, and frequently enlisted George to walk on his back, since he was the same weight as a Japanese woman who had treated his back in that manner. He also became known for addressing the Jeffersons as "Mr. J" and "Mrs. J".
The series also stars Zara Cully as Olivia "Mother" Jefferson, who constantly disparaged Louise as not being a good wife. Cully, who had first appeared in the 1974 All in the Family episode, "Lionel's Engagement", reprised her role. She appeared regularly in the first two seasons, but made sporadic appearances over the next two years and was written out in the fifth season (Cully died in 1978, from lung cancer; no episode was centered on Mother Jefferson's death, but it was mentioned that she had died in season 5).
Ned Wertimer played the doorman, Ralph Hart, throughout the series. Another character, often spoken about but rarely seen, was Mr. Whittendale, the building owner, played by Jack Fletcher.
[button color="black" size="small" link="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072519/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast" target="blank" ]Full Cast & Crew[/button]
Did You Know?
- Like her character Helen, Actress Roxie Roker has a white husband. During a casting interview, Roker was asked if she'd feel comfortable with her character being married to a white man. She responded by showing the producers a photo of her husband.
- When the show first started George constantly referred to Tom as a honky. After a few seasons Sherman Hemsley asked the writers to stop having George call him that, as he felt that the characters were friends and he felt George would not use a racist term on a friend. When the writers refused to stop Hemsley simply mumbled the the word every time he said it, forcing re-shoots. Eventually the writers stopped using the word.
- The longest running sitcom to feature a predominantly African-American cast.
- When Zara Cully died during the 1977-1978 season it was decided to write Mother Jefferson off the series by having her die as well.
- CBS never gave "The Jeffersons" a proper series finale. The cast, bitter that they never got a chance to say goodbye, reunited years later for a stage play based on the sitcom. Sherman Hemsley said he found out the show was canceled by reading it in the paper.
- Several CBS executives tried to get the interracial kiss between Tom and Helen Willis edited out, but executive producer Fred Silverman successfully lobbied to keep it in.
- Ja'net DuBois sang the show's famous opening theme song "Movin' On Up" and its closing credits as well.
- Tom and Helen Willis were TV's first white and black interracial couple. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (Lucy and Ricky Ricardo) were TV's actual first interracial couple on I Love Lucy (1951.)
- The picture on the Jeffersons' desk by the telephone changes in every episode. It alternates between shots of Louise, George, Lionel, and Mother Jefferson.
- When Mike Evans left the show for a second time, his absence was explained by having Lionel and Jenny separate and eventually divorce.
- Sherman Hemsley is only 11 years older then Mike Evans. Hemsley is also 21 years younger then Isabel Sanford.
- Isabel Sanford did not want to do a spin-off. She told producers that she was happy with her recurring role on _"All in the Family" (i971)_. When they told her that they were writing Louise Jefferson off of All in the Family, and moving the character to the Jeffersons with or without her, she decided to stay in the role.
- Florence was originally intended to be a recurring cast member, but the character became so popular with fans, that the producers made Marla Gibbs a series regular.
- Zara Cully missed most of the fifth season because she was ill with pneumonia and a collapsed lung. She became ill again with lung cancer and died during the sixth season.
- 'Sherman Helmsley' found out about the show's cancellation by reading it in the newspaper. Isabel Sanford found out from a relative that called her, who had read it in a trade publication.
- Marla Gibbs was given her own spin-off, Checking In (1981), where Florence went to work as an executive at a hotel. As a precaution in case the show failed, Gibbs would be allowed to return to "The Jeffersons". Roseanna Christiansen was hired as Florence's replacement, Carmen. When the spin-off was canceled after four episodes, Gibbs returned to the show.
- Sherman Hemsley was the only actor to appear on all 253 episodes.
- In terms of number of seasons (11) and episodes (253), this is by far the longest airing All in the Family (1971) spin-off. In fact, The Jeffersons aired more seasons and episodes than All In The Family itself.
- Damon Evans left the series to return to musical theatre. He admitted in interviews that he did not enjoy working on a sitcom and sometimes would not show up to work.
- During their 11 seasons, the Jeffersons were placed into 15 different time-slots.
- Unlike Norman Lear's other sitcoms; topical, political and edgy content was gradually phased out as the series progressed.
- The character 'George Jefferson' was ranked #44 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" (20 June 2004 issue).
- The building in the opening sequence is located at 185 E 85th Street in Manhattan.
- Mike Evans left the role of Lionel Jefferson to work as a writer/producer on Good Times. When that show ended, he came back to the Jeffersons again.
- Mike Evans left the show after the first season to work on Good Times, which he co-created. By the time his replacement Damon Evans quit the series, Good Times had been canceled, enabling Mike Evans to return to the role of Lionel for the duration of the series.
- When The Jeffersons were first introduced on All In The Family, the family included George's brother Henry. Henry was never seen, and barely mentioned on The Jeffersons, as was the case on All In The Family after he was written off the series.
- It was intended for Mike Evans to return full time for the series twelfth season under the premise of Lionel moving back to the apartment following his divorce from Jenny. This was an attempt to try to help revitalize the series, but the plans never came to fruition as a result of the show's unexpected cancellation following its eleventh season.
- Louise had an older sister named Maxine, who ran away from home several years earlier after she got pregnant. She eventually moved to France where she worked as a singer.
- The Jeffersons returned to television in 1995 to appear on an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), and again in 2001 for a series of Denny's Restaurant commercials.
- Marla Gibbs was the fourth cast member, and is one of the surviving cast members next to Berlinda Tolbert, who's the youngest.
- Mother Jefferson's favorite drink was always a Bloody Mary.
- George Jefferson was a navy veteran who had served in the U.S. 7th Fleet.
- Though it is rarely mentioned on the show, the name of the building the Jeffersons live in is "Colby East".
- The Jeffersons' neighbor, Harry Bently, worked as a Russian translator at the United Nations.
- The Jeffersons live on the 12th floor of the Colby East.
- George's primary business rival/arch-enemy was Cunningham Cleaners.