The Jeffersons: Pilot Episode (1975) | Classic TV

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The Jeffersons: Pilot Episode (1975)

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Let’s go back to 1975

Louise Jefferson, played by Isabel Sanford, first appeared in the All in the Family episode “Lionel Moves Into the Neighborhood”, which was broadcast on March 2, 1971. The episode, the eighth of the series, centers on Louise, her son Lionel, and her husband George’s moving next door to Archie and Edith Bunker in the working-class section of Queens

Lionel, played by Mike Evans, first appeared in “Meet the Bunkers”, the premiere episode of All in the Family.

Norman Lear created the character of George Jefferson specifically for Hemsley. Lear originally intended for George to appear in the first season of the series; however, Hemsley was starring in the Broadway musical Purlie at the time, and Lear decided to postpone introduction of the character until Hemsley was available.

Lear created the character of Henry Jefferson, George’s younger brother, and replaced George with Henry in the series’s scripts until Purlie finished its run. Mel Stewart was cast as Henry.

George was introduced in the episode “Henry’s Farewell”, and Hemsley and Stewart share their only scene together in its final minutes. The episode marked the final appearance of Henry.

George, Louise, and Lionel continued to appear on All in the Family until 1975, when the spin-off The Jeffersons, also created by Lear, premiered.

The characters of Lionel’s biracial fiancée, Jenny, and her family, all of whom first appeared in the 1974 All in the Family episode “Lionel’s Engagement”, were also written into the new series. However, the roles were all recast, with Berlinda Tolbert taking over the role of Jenny, veteran actor Franklin Cover playing her father, Tom Willis, whose first name was changed from Louis, as it was in their first All In The Family appearance, and Roxie Roker as her mother, Helen. Roxie Roker was asked during a casting interview if she’d be comfortable with her character having a white husband. In response she showed a picture of her husband, Sy Kravitz, who was white.

The Jeffersons ran on CBS from January 18, 1975, to July 2, 1985 featuring 253 episodes.

The Jeffersons is one of the longest-running sitcoms, the second-longest-running American series with a primarily African American cast (surpassed in 2012 by Tyler Perry’s House of Payne by one episode, though The Jeffersons ran for more seasons and, the show was the first to prominently feature a married interracial couple.[

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Source: Sal Amato


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