Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Jeffersons was an American sitcom broadcast on the CBS network from January 18, 1975 until July 23, 1985, lasting 11 seasons. It was a spin-off from All in the Family, in which Louise Jefferson first appeared in 1971, with George making his first appearance in 1973. The Jeffersons was created and produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin.
The Jeffersons was in the top ten in the Nielsen Ratings for three seasons in a row: 1979-1980, 1980-1981, and 1981-1982. During the 1981-1982 season, it was the #3 show on network television, behind only Dallas and 60 Minutes in popularity, with an estimated 23.4 million viewers each week.
The main characters were George Jefferson , played by Sherman Hemsley and Louise "Weezie" Jefferson, played by the late Isabel Sanford. George Jefferson was the owner of a chain of seven dry cleaning stores; he and his wife lived in a luxury high-rise apartment building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. One of the stars of the show was Lenny Kravitz's mother, the late Roxie Roker, who played Helen Willis, opposite Franklin Cover as Tom Willis. The show also featured the late Zara Cully as George's mother Olivia (referred to as simply "Mother Jefferson"); Marla Gibbs as the Jeffersons' wise-cracking maid, Florence Johnston; Paul Benedict as the bumbling English neighbor, Harry Bentley; and Ned Wertimer as Ralph, the building doorman.
The show underwent numerous subtle changes as the 1970s moved into the 1980s. Louise Jefferson's Afro vanished, and George Jefferson toned down his explosive temper and his bigoted diatribes. The keys to the popularity of the show were its having African-American actors in lead roles, its portrayal of a successful African-American family, and its confrontational humor, although at the time, some complaints were made about the stereotypes that the show allegedly purveyed.
Roker and Cover portrayed network television's first regularly-scheduled inter-ethnic couple where one partner was African-American. (The distinction of first inter-ethnic TV couple is usually ascribed to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.)
The buoyant theme song from The Jeffersons, "Moving on Up" (composed by Jeff Barry and Ja'net DuBois of Good Times fame and sung by DuBois), found new life in the 1990s and 2000s in a number of television commercials and other uses.
Newcomb, Horace (Ed.). (1997). Encyclopedia of Television. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers: Chicago. ISBN 1884964265.
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