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Actor Sherman Hemsley dies at 74

AmNews Staff Reports | 7/24/2012, 6:07 p.m.

Reports indicate that Black actor Sherman Hemsly has died. Best known for his roles as George Jefferson on the sitcom "The Jeffersons" in the 1970s and as Deacon Ernest Frye in the 1980s sitcom "Amen," Hemsly died in his home in El Paso, Texas. He was 74.

The cause of death at this time is unknown. Website TMZ.com posted photos of paramedics taking what appeared to be Hemsly's body out of his home.

A native of Philadelphia, Hemsly also appeared in several other television shows inlcuding "Family Matters," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and "The Hugleys." His work in television earned him an Emmy nomination in 1984.

Hemsly got his start in New York as a member of the Negro Ensemble Company and the Urban Arts Company. He began his acting career on Broadway in the early 1970s playing the role of Gitlow in the musical "Purlie" later starring in a television adaptation of the work.

In 1971 television mogul Norman Lear asked Hemsley to play the role of George Jefferson on "All in the Family." In 1975 he starred in the sitcom's spin-off "The Jeffersons." The show remains the longest-running sitcom with a mostly Black cast in television history with a total of 253 episodes.

One of Hemsley's final television appearances was on "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" in 2011 reprising his role as George Jefferson alongside his former co-star Marla Gibbs who appeared as Florence Johnston.