Based on the immensely successful British TV comedy series, Steptoe and Son, this series essentially took the story of Albert and Harold Steptoe and transplanted it to 9114 South Central, Los Angeles, California, the residence and business of Fred Sanford and his son Lamont.
Fred was a 65-year-old junk dealer whose 34-year-old son, Lamont, was his partner, a situation that Lamont was not always happy with. At his advanced age, Fred was more than happy with his little business and the marginal income it provided.
Lamont, on the other hand, was looking to better himself by getting out of the junk business and trying something more challenging and, hopefully, more lucrative.
Fred, whose wife, Elizabeth, had died some years before, would do anything to keep his son from deserting him and the business.
Every time Lamont threatened to leave, Fred would fake a heart attack and start moaning, “I’m coming, Elizabeth, I’m coming.”
His father’s machinations didn’t really fool Lamont, but he did love him and – despite what he said about his future – really wouldn’t have left the old man.
Fred had a steady girlfriend in Nurse Donna Harris (who he was always promising to marry) and was constantly at odds with Aunt Esther, his late wife’s sister.
In 1977 Sanford and Son lost both of its stars – Redd Foxx to a variety series on ABC, and Demond Wilson due to salary demands. With most of the supporting actors still around, however, Sanford Arms took its place.
Unsurprisingly, this attempt to salvage the series was a total failure and it lasted less than a month. The Redd Foxx variety series didn’t fare much better, lasting only four months.
In 1980 Redd Foxx revived the saga of the cantankerous junk dealer, in a series simply called Sanford. Fred was still running the junkyard, but since Lamont was (conveniently) away working on the Alaskan pipeline, he had two new partners, both friends of Lamont.
Rollo was a holdover from the original series, and Cal was an obese white Southerner who invested $2,000 to become part-owner of “The Sanford Empire.” Fred also had an unlikely new girlfriend in Eve Lewis, a wealthy Beverly Hills widow.
Sanford passed quickly from view after three short runs on NBC.