From Yahoo TV News:
“Actor Sherman Hemsley, best known for his role as George Jefferson on “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” has died at the age of 74 of natural causes at his home in El Paso, Texas. TMZ initially reported the news; it was later confirmed by People magazine.
Hemsley got his big break on “All in the Family.” His character, the wise-cracking George Jefferson, was so popular, that Hemsley was soon given his own spinoff. “The Jeffersons” ran for 11 years and had one of the best, most beloved theme songs in television history. Following the end of the “Jeffersons” run, Helmsley starred in another sitcom, “Amen,” in which he played the paternal Deacon Frye.
Hemsley’s role on “The Jeffersons” was a landmark. As Entertainment Weekly put it, George Jefferson was the “first black character presented as an arrogant, intolerant bigot — the black Archie Bunker — George was also one of TV’s first upper-income blacks, appearing nearly a decade before ‘The Cosby Show’ began its own long run.”
In a 2003 interview, Hemsley talked about the history of George Jefferson. When he debuted the character on “All in the Family,” Hemsley said he was told to act “pompous and feisty.” While he was off-stage waiting to make his very first entrance on “All in the Family” (already a huge hit), Hemsley said he thought to himself: “Should I run? What the heck did I get myself into? Do I know my lines?”