Sherman Hemsley, who is known to television audiences the world over as George Jefferson from the classic sitcom The Jeffersons, passed away last month from lung cancer, according to Entertainment Tonight. Specifically, Hemsley died from “superior vena cava syndrome,” which resulted from a mass on his lung. This information comes straight from the El Paso County Texas Medical Examiner’s Postmortem Report, which was obtained by TMZ.
The report also stated that doctors had recommended chemo and radiation therapy for Hemsley shortly before the illness claimed his life.
Hemsley, who was born on February 1, 1938, grew up around 22nd and Christian Streets in South Philadelphia. After the 10th grade, Hemsley dropped out of school and joined the Air Force where he spent the next four years of his life. After returning home from his stint in the military, Hemsley worked for the Post Office by day while attending the Academy of Dramatic Arts by night.
Hemsley spent several years in theater and even appeared in the Broadway musical Purlie. It was around this time that the actor received a call from producer Norman Lear to appear as a character named George Jefferson on his new sitcom All in the Family. Just two years after appearing on the show for the first time, the character received his own spin-off, The Jeffersons. The sitcom was a huge success, airing for 11 seasons before ending its run in 1985.
Although Hemsley will also be known as George Jefferson, his legacy doesn’t necessarily end there. In addition to The Jeffersons, Hemsley also enjoyed success with the sitcom Amen. And while the actor did attempt to venture out into film, his endeavors never were widely received by audiences. However, those who have yet to experience the glory of Ghost Fever for themselves are truly missing out.
Sadly, Hemsley’s battle with lung cancer isn’t an uncommon story. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 158,592 Americans died from the condition in 2008 alone.