1 9 7 5 – 1 9 8 5 (USA)
253 x 30 minute episodes
This popular sitcom from CBS was a spin-off from All In The Family and starred a nouveau riche black family making it to the top in New York City with a successful dry-cleaning business.
George Jefferson and his wife Louise (who he called ‘Weez’ or ‘Weezy’) started out with nothing, living with George’s mother. Louise was working as a maid, and George worked off and on, whenever he could.
George eventually opened his own business, Jefferson Cleaners, and they moved to a house in Queens and became neighbours to Archie Bunker and family. As George’s business became more successful, the family moved into a “dee-luxe apartment in the sky”.
In an effort to flaunt his new standard of living, George bought a concert grand piano to impress his neighbours, forbade his wife to do housework and hired a black maid, Florence (Marla Gibbs).
The Jeffersons’ best friends were Helen (Roxie Roker) and Tom (Franklin Cover) Willis, an interracial couple from apartment 14F. Their daughter Jenny (Berlinda Tolbert) later married George and Louise’s son, Lionel.
Support characters that appeared from time to time included Ralph the Doorman (Ned Wertimer), eccentric English neighbour Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict) who worked as an interpreter at the United Nations, Charlie from Charlie’s Bar, Jessica Jefferson (George and Louise’s granddaughter), and Marcus Garvey, one of George’s employees.
A number of two-part episodes were produced, including a story where George was mugged and stabbed, an episode where Lionel and Jenny almost divorced, and one where Louise witnessed a murder on Halloween and was then cornered by the murderer.
Other memorable episodes were the Martin Luther King assassination episode from 1980, the Mystery Cruise Ship episode from 1982, and all of the Christmas episodes.
Ironically, as the show continued into the conservatism of the Reagan years the tone of the programme shifted. Louise Jefferson’s afro disappeared and so did her poor English. There was no mention of her former life as a housekeeper.
The last episode of The Jeffersons aired on 21 July 1985.
Mike Evans (1)
Damon Evans (2)
Jenny Willis Jefferson
Ralph the Doorman