Another one of the iconic actors of my youth has passed on. I also had the pleasure of meeting him during my airline days, so I was doubly sad to hear this news.
Actor Sherman Helmsley, who played George Jefferson on that iconic CBS show The Jeffersons, Deacon Ernest Fry on NBC’s Amen and was the voice of Earl Sinclair’s boss BP Richfield on the ABC animated series Dinosaurs was found dead in his El Paso, TX home at age 74.
Helmsley’s George Jefferson started out as the counterpart neighbor to Archie Bunker but moved on up to his own groundbreaking lead actor sitcom role in 1975 along with television wife Isabel Sanford who passed away in 2004. The show earned Helmsley Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and The Jeffersons was the first show to feature an upscale African-American couple. It was also the first to feature an episode with a Black trans character.
When it was canceled ten years later, it not only at the time was the longest running sitcom on television, it led to his role on ‘Amen’ from 1986-1991
Dinosaurs was a guilty pleasure for me when it was on, and I was pleased to discover that Helmsley was doing the voice of BP Richfield..
Helmsley’s death has also caused me to reflect on how much better television was in the 70’s and 80’s and early 90’s in terms of not only entertaining you, but leaving you with a social message as well. It’s something we really need to get back to.
Rest in peace Mr. Helmsley. Thanks for the long career in which you made us laugh and entertained us. Enjoy that rest you’ve earned in that deluxe apartment in the sky.