Isabel Sanford

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Isabel Sanford

Publicity photo of Isabel Sanford with
The Jeffersons co-stars, Sherman Hemsley and Mike Evans, circa 1974.
BornEloise Gwendolyn Sanford
(1917-08-29)August 29, 1917
New York City, New York,
United States
DiedJuly 9, 2004(2004-07-09) (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California,
United States
OccupationActress
Years active1967–2004
Spouse(s)William Edward (Sonny) Richmond (?-1960) (his death) 3 children
 
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Isabel Sanford

Publicity photo of Isabel Sanford with
The Jeffersons co-stars, Sherman Hemsley and Mike Evans, circa 1974.
BornEloise Gwendolyn Sanford
(1917-08-29)August 29, 1917
New York City, New York,
United States
DiedJuly 9, 2004(2004-07-09) (aged 86)
Los Angeles, California,
United States
OccupationActress
Years active1967–2004
Spouse(s)William Edward (Sonny) Richmond (?-1960) (his death) 3 children

Isabel Sanford (August 29, 1917 – July 9, 2004) was an American actress best known for her role as Louise "Weezy" Jefferson on the CBS television sitcoms All in the Family (1971–1975) and The Jeffersons (1975–1985). She is the only Black actress to win a Lead Actress Emmy Award (for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1981), and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Contents

Biography

Career

Sanford was born Eloise Gwendolyn Sanford in Harlem, New York, to parents James Edward Sanford and the former Josephine Perry. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and received an honorary doctorate degree from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

During the 1960s, Sanford worked in the theatre industry, and in 1967 she made her film debut in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, playing the critically acclaimed role of the maid Tillie Binks. She caught the attention of major Hollywood players, including Norman Lear, who cast Sanford in the role of Louise Jefferson in All in the Family. She almost turned down the role after receiving a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken in her dressing room.[1] Norman Lear assured her that it was a genuine gift, and that he sent everyone a congratulatory bucket of KFC; she eventually agreed to play the part. Sanford and her TV husband, Sherman Hemsley, were so popular that The Jeffersons was spun off into its own series.

After production of The Jeffersons ended in 1985, Sanford realized that she and Hemsley were typecast by their Jeffersons' roles. So Sanford made the most of it, appearing with Hemsley in a series of advertisements for Denny's and Old Navy, and starring with Hemsley in a touring company of "The Real Live Jeffersons" stage show in the mid-1990s. She and Hemsley also made cameo appearances in films such as Sprung and Mafia! Other than those opportunities with Hemsley, Sanford was mostly limited to guest TV appearances and cameo appearances in movies, appearing in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Dream On, Roseanne, Living Single, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, In the House and The Steve Harvey Show, as well as the extremely short-lived 1992 CBS drama Hearts Are Wild. In 1996 Sandford starred the action movie "Original Gangstas" set in urban Gary, Indiana starring Blaxploitation film stars such as Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Jim Brown, and Richard Roundtree.

She also voiced characters on three other cartoon shows including Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and Pepper Ann. In her final television television appearance, she voiced a character on The Simpsons.

Sanford spent most of her last years divided between her apartment in Los Angeles and her mansion in Atlanta, GA. Her mansion in Atlanta was once featured on Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous. Sanford had the mansion decorated in pink and white, exclaiming that she "only used the elevator to go upstairs and uses the grand staircase to come down to 'make an entrance'."[this quote needs a citation] The breakfast area of the kitchen featured the dinette table and chairs that had been used on the set of The Jeffersons. Sanford had added photos of the show's run underneath the table's glass top.[citation needed]

Less than six months before she died, Isabel Sanford received, for her contribution to the television industry, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard.

Death

Sanford died on July 9, 2004, of cardiac arrest and heart disease at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. She was a month and a half away from her 87th birthday and was interred at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.

Filmography

Film
YearFilmRoleOther notes
1967Guess Who's Coming to DinnerTillie
1968The Young RunawaysSarah
1969PendulumEffie
The ComicWoman
1970The Red, White, and BlackIsabel Taylor
1972The New CenturionsWilma
Hickey & BoggsNyona's Mother
Lady Sings the BluesThe Madame
Up the SandboxMaria
1974The PhotographerMrs. Slade
1979Love At First BiteJudge R. Thomas
1981Desperate MovesDottie Butz
1990Pucker Up and Bark Like a DogJoanna
1992South BeachMama
1996Original GangstasGracie Bookman
1997SprungSista #1
1998Jane Austen's Mafia!Mrs. Louise JeffersonUncredited
2000Click Three TimesDorothy
Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1968BewitchedAunt Jenny1 episode
The Mod SquadLillian1 episode
1970Daniel BooneMaybelle1 episode
1971The Bill Cosby ShowBertha1 episode
The InternsDr. Hearn1 episode
1971–1972Love, American Style2 episodes
1971–1979All in the FamilyLouise Jefferson26 episodes
1972The Mary Tyler Moore ShowMrs. Wilson1 episode
1972Wait Till Your Father Gets HomeBetsy (voice)1 episode
1973Temperatures Rising1 episode
1974KojakGrace1 episode
1978Vega$Mae1 episode
1975–1985The JeffersonsLouise Jefferson253 episodes
1979SupertrainReba1 episode
1980–1983The Love BoatTanya, Isaac's Aunt2 episodes
1986Crazy Like a Fox1 episode
The New Mike HammerMama Vibes1 episode
1987Isabel's Honeymoon HotelIsabel ScottUnknown episodes
1988A Pup Named Scooby-DooAdditional voicesEpisode A Bicycle Built for Boo!
1993Dream OnJudge Isabel Kohner1 episode
Living SingleEunetta Ryan1 episode
1994Hangin' with Mr. CooperJudge1 episode
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanMs. Duffy1 episode
1995RoseanneLouise Jefferson, TV Mom #31 episode
In the HouseNanna2 episodes
1995–1996The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirLouise 'Weezy' Jefferson2 episodes
1996The Steve Harvey ShowMother Hightower1 episode
1997Teen AngelLaurie1 episode
1998Pepper AnnBernice (voice)1 episode
2001The ParkersEvelyn 'Nana' Smith1 episode
2002The Young and the RestlessSylvia1 episode
2004The SimpsonsHerself1 episode
2004Candid CameraMrs. Jefferson1 episode

Awards and nominations

YearAwardResultCategoryFilm or series
1979Emmy AwardNominatedOutstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy SeriesThe Jeffersons
1980NominatedOutstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy SeriesThe Jeffersons
1981WonOutstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy SeriesThe Jeffersons
1982NominatedOutstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy SeriesThe Jeffersons
1983NominatedOutstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy SeriesThe Jeffersons
1984NominatedOutstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy SeriesThe Jeffersons
1985NominatedOutstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy SeriesThe Jeffersons
1977Golden Globe AwardNominatedBest TV Actress - Musical/ComedyThe Jeffersons
1978NominatedBest TV Actress - Musical/ComedyThe Jeffersons
1983NominatedBest Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/MusicalThe Jeffersons
1984NominatedBest Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/MusicalThe Jeffersons
1985NominatedBest Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/MusicalThe Jeffersons
2004TV Land AwardsWonFavorite Cantankerous CoupleThe Jeffersons (Shared with Sherman Hemsley)

References

External links