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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).

Biography

Career

Born Eloise Gwendolyn Sanford in New York City, New York to parents James Edward Sanford and the former Josephine Perry. Sanford was the first African-American 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. 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 fried chicken in her dressing room, which in those days was a racist stereotype as a favorite food of African-Americans. Norman Lear assured her that it was a genuine gift, and 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. 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 Hearts Are Wild (similar to Love Boat). She also did voice acting for The Simpsons in her final television appearance before her death.

She has also done several voices on three other cartoon shows including Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and Pepper Ann.

Sanford also appeared with Sherman Hemsley in a series of advertisements for Denny's and Old Navy. Such was their compatibility and credibility as a married couple that no one seemed to notice or care that Sanford was twenty years older than Hemsley. She and Hemsley also made a cameo appearances in films such as Sprung and Mafia!

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.

For her contribution to the television industry, Isabel Sanford has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard.

Filmography

Film
Year Film Role Other notes
1967 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Tillie
1968 The Young Runaways Sarah
1969 Pendulum Effie
The Comic Woman
1970 The Red, White, and Black Isabel Taylor
1972 The New Centurions Wilma
Hickey & Boggs Nyona's Mother
Lady Sings the Blues The Madame
Up the Sandbox Maria
1974 The Photographer Mrs. Slade
1979 Love At First Bite Judge R. Thomas
1981 Desperate Moves Dottie Butz
1990 Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog Joanna
1992 South Beach Mama
1996 Original Gangstas Gracie Bookman
1997 Sprung Sista #1
1998 Jane Austen's Mafia! Mrs. Louise Jefferson Uncredited
2000 Click Three Times Dorothy
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1968 Bewitched Aunt Jenny 1 episode
The Mod Squad Lillian 1 episode
1970 Daniel Boone Maybelle 1 episode
1971 The Bill Cosby Show Bertha 1 episode
The Interns Dr. Hearn 1 episode
1971–1972 Love, American Style 2 episodes
1971–1979 All in the Family Louise Jefferson 26 episodes
1972 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Mrs. Wilson 1 episode
1972 Wait Till Your Father Gets Home Betsy (voice) 1 episode
1973 Temperatures Rising 1 episode
1974 Kojak Grace 1 episode
1978 Vega$ Mae 1 episode
1975–1985 The Jeffersons Louise Jefferson 251 episodes
1979 Supertrain Reba 1 episode
1980–1983 The Love Boat Tanya, Isaac's Aunt 2 episodes
1986 Crazy Like a Fox 1 episode
The New Mike Hammer Mama Vibes 1 episode
1987 Isabel's Honeymoon Hotel Isabel Scott Unknown episodes
1988 A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Additional voices Episode A Bicycle Built for Boo!
1993 Dream On Judge Isabel Kohner 1 episode
Living Single Eunetta Ryan 1 episode
1994 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper Judge 1 episode
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Ms. Duffy 1 episode
1995 Roseanne Louise Jefferson, TV Mom #3 1 episode
In the House Nanna 2 episodes
1995–1996 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Louise 'Weezy' Jefferson 2 episodes
1996 The Steve Harvey Show Mother Hightower 1 episode
1997 Teen Angel Laurie 1 episode
1998 Pepper Ann Bernice (voice) 1 episode
2001 The Parkers Evelyn 'Nana' Smith 1 episode
2002 The Young and the Restless Sylvia 1 episode
2004 The Simpsons Herself 1 episode
2004 Candid Camera Mrs. Jefferson 1 episode

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Film or series
1979 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Jeffersons
1980 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Jeffersons
1981 Won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Jeffersons
1982 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Jeffersons
1983 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Jeffersons
1984 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Jeffersons
1985 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series The Jeffersons
1977 Golden Globe Award Nominated Best TV Actress - Musical/Comedy The Jeffersons
1978 Nominated Best TV Actress - Musical/Comedy The Jeffersons
1983 Nominated Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical The Jeffersons
1984 Nominated Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical The Jeffersons
1985 Nominated Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical The Jeffersons
2004 TV Land Awards Won Favorite Cantankerous Couple The Jeffersons (Shared with Sherman Hemsley)

References

Kathryn Shattuck (13 July 2004). "Isabel Sanford, 86, Actress Who Portrayed Mrs. Jefferson, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 

External links

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  1. REDIRECT Template:EmmyAward ComedyLeadActress
it:Isabel Sanford

nl:Isabel Sanford sh:Isabel Sanford fi:Isabel Sanford

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