Love, Laughter, And Family: Facts About The Sitcom The Jeffersons

After 11 seasons, The Jeffersons became one of the longest-running sitcoms in television history. Running on CBS from 1975-1985, there are many behind-the-scenes facts fans might not know, like how the cast learned of the show’s cancelation and what they did afterward.

Keep reading because here are some little-known tidbits and facts about The Jeffersons and where to watch the show’s reruns now.

Louise’s Nickname “Weezy” Was A Little Accident

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CBS
CBS

One of the more relatable points in The Jeffersons is George’s having a nickname for his wife Louise, Weezy. While it became a common term heard on the show, it actually came to be by accident.

As it turns out, Sherman Hemsley grew up with a girl he called Weezy, and one day on set, the name just slipped! It stuck, and Louise became Weezy to her husband!

Isabel Sanford Kept Acting After The Jeffersons

Night of 100 Stars
A. Nevader/WireImage
A. Nevader/WireImage

After The Jeffersons came to an abrupt end in 1985, actress Isabel Sanford stayed in the industry and appeared in numerous projects, including both film and television.

While none of her appearances measured up to her role as Louise Jefferson, she still added big-named shows on her resume before her passing, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Steve Harvey Show, and The Simpsons.

Isabel Sanford Didn’t Think The Show Was Going To Work

Sherman Hemsley And Isabel Sanford Portrait
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Coming off the hugely successful and popular show All in the Family, Isabel Sanford didn’t think a spin-off of the Jefferson family would bring money into the network. She didn’t think people were going to be interested in something so different.

As history proved, Sanford was very wrong, and The Jeffersons became one of CBS’s more popular sitcoms.

Marla Gibbs Continues To Appear In Hollywood

The Heroes Of Hollywood Awards Luncheon
Tasia Wells/Getty Images
Tasia Wells/Getty Images

In The Jeffersons, Marla Gibbs plays the title family’s maid, a role that earned Gibbs solid five nominations for Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

After the series, she began to appear in numerous other series. In 2021, Gibbs landed the reoccurring role of Olivia Price on Days of Our Lives.

Mike Evans Left To Become A Writer For Good Times

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CBS
CBS

When The Jeffersons first aired, Mike Evans reprised his role of Lionel Jefferson from All in the Family. As George and Lousie’s story took over the plot, Lionel’s appearances grew few and far between.

So much so that Evans decided to take his newfound time to co-create and write a new sitcom called Good Times.

Sherman Hemsley Once Delivered Mail For A Living

50th Annual Emmy Awards for Creative Arts
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

When Sherman Hemsley lived in Philadelphia, he made a living delivering mail around the city. He was a blue-collar worker, which stuck with him even after he moved to New York to get closer to his dreams of becoming an actor.

Hemsley even landed a job as a mailman when he moved to The Big Apple, just in case some of his acting gigs didn’t work out.

Marla Gibbs Held Another Job

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CBS
CBS

When she was cast as housekeeper Florence Johnston on The Jeffersons, Marla Gibbs worked as a reservation agent for United Airlines. While many people would quit after landing a role on a popular series, Gibbs did not.

Originally, her role as the housekeeper was supposed to be minor, so she wanted to airline job just as a fallback. Fans loved her character so much that she became a regular and quit her second job (two years later!).

There Was No Series Finale

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CBS
CBS

Due to the abrupt cancelation of The Jeffersons, a lot of the cast believe they were robbed of a series finale. The final episode that aired was “Red Robins,” where George leads a group of Girl Scouts.

It didn’t really serve as a conclusion to the show, and the cast was not happy about it. Isabel Stanford even called the lack of finale “disrespectful” on the part of CBS.

Roxie Roker Was The Mother Of A Famous Musician

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CBS
CBS

Roxie Roker, Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, had a son who sometimes came to the set with her. But this was no ordinary boy. Roker’s son would grow up to become legendary musician Lenny Kravitz!

It seems show business runs in the family, as both Lenny and his daughter Zoe are in the entertainment industry!

An Audience Member Diagnosed Paul Benedict

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CBS
CBS

Paul Benedict’s character on The Jeffersons was known for his overly-large features, including his nose, jaw, hands, and feet. The disproportionate growth began in high school, with no doctor being able to diagnose his condition.

It wasn’t until Benedict was performing on Broadway that an audience member asked to speak with him. Telling Benedict, he was a radiologist, the strange diagnosed Benedict with symptoms of acromegaly, an abnormal growth hormone. A 20-minute surgical procedure helped stop his condition.

Where to Watch: The Jeffersons Can Be Found On Streaming Services

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CBS
CBS

Fans of The Jeffersons will be happy to learn that they can watch their favorite family once again! While CBS canceled the series long ago, it can be found on numerous streaming platforms.

The main streaming services housing The Jeffersons are Hulu Premium, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV.

Lionel Was The First Jefferson To appear On TV

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CBS
CBS

While The Jeffersons is largely based on the lives of George and Louise, they weren’t the first of the family to find themselves on TV. That privilege goes to Mike Evans, the original actor to play Lionel Jefferson.

He actually appears in the first episode of All in the Family, with Louise coming in later in the first season and it being many years before Sherman Hemsley appears.

Sherman Hemsley Loved Acting But Was A Recluse

MTV Networks Upfront 2003 Presentation
Frank Micelotta/Getty Images
Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

Actor Sherman Hemsley played the role of George Jefferson from 1973 until 1985 in both All in the Family and The Jeffersons. After the end of both shows, he stayed in the industry, appearing in shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sister, Sister.

Even so, it is said that Hemsley actually preferred to keep to himself and became a recluse later in his life, out of the Hollywood limelight.

Ja’Net DuBois Sand The Jeffersons Theme Song

Scene from Episode of The Jeffersons
CBS
CBS

The opening credits of The Jeffersons have the amazing vocal talent of Ja’Net DuBois singing “Movin’ On Up.” She isn’t only known for the song, though. DuBois also starred in the popular sitcom Good Times where she played the role of Willona Woods for 133 episodes.

Good Times is actually the sitcom co-created and written by The Jeffersons actor Mike Evans!

Franklin Cover Commuted To Los Angeles From New York

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CBS
CBS

For his role as Tom Willis, Franklin Cover had a very long commute. Each week, he would fly out from his family home in New York to film in Los Angeles. There, he would stay in an apartment, taking the bus to the studio each morning.

Once the weekend hit, he was back on a plane to The Big Apple. He did this each week until the end of The Jeffersons.

“Neck” And “The Queen” Were Castmate Nicknames

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CBS
CBS

Being on the set with the same people day in and day out will potentially result in some inside jokes and nicknames. This was true in the case of The Jeffersons cast.

The cast called Isabel Sanford “The Queen” because of her elegance while they made fun of Sherman Hemsley’s short height, calling him “The Neck.”

Isabel Didn’t Originally Like Sherman’s Casting

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CBS
CBS

When Sherman Hemsley was cast as the iconic George Jefferson, actress Isabel Sanford wasn’t impressed. He was much younger, and she didn’t think they’d make a believable married couple.

Obviously, she was wrong. Isabel and Sherman wound up becoming great friends on and off the screen and even did commercials with one another after The Jeffersons came to an end.

Low Ratings Were The Show’s Downfall

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CBS
CBS

After 11 seasons, The Jeffersons was canceled in 1985. The cancelation came due to low ratings. At the time, the show was ranked 59th out of CBS’s 96 prime-time series, resulting in the network saying goodbye to the series.

Sadly, it was a very abrupt cancelation that took the entire cast by surprise.

The Cast Learned About The Cancelation From Third Party Sources

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CBS
CBS

When The Jeffersons was ultimately canceled, the cast didn’t learn about it from the network but third-party sources. The actor who played George Jefferson, Sherman Hemsley, learned the news by way of a newspaper.

Isabel Sanford, the actress who played Louise Jefferson, heard the news from her cousin, who read it in a tabloid. And actor Franklin Thomas heard it on an episode of Entertainment Tonight.

Archie Bunker Never Appeared On The Jeffersons

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CBS
CBS

While Archie Bunker was a huge character in All in the Family, he never makes it onto The Jeffersons. In the former series, Bunker is the next-door neighbor of the Jefferson family.

A blue-collar family man and a bigot, George Jefferson and Bunker didn’t initially get along. But they eventually came to an understanding.