Spun off from All in the Family in 1975, The Jeffersons ran on CBS until 1985. It was the longest-running of television producer Norman Lear’s iconic sitcoms, including Sanford and Son, Maude, and All in the Family.
The show’s cancellation came as a surprise and intense disappointment to Louise Jefferson actor Isabel Sanford. It was not only the news that the show would be ending that upset her, but the way in which she learned about it.
Sanford’s reaction to meeting Hemsley
When Sanford met her on-screen husband Sherman Hemsley, her feeling about him was less than favorable. She was told a season and a half into All in the Family that Norman Lear had finally found her George. As she told the Television Academy Foundation in 2002, it was a real letdown.
“When I saw the man, he came, this little man and he was little then,” she began. “Thin, you know.”
The show’s director, John Rich, received Hemsley on his first day on the set and introduced him to a displeased Sanford.
She recalled: “He said, ‘Isabel, this is your husband!’ I looked at this little man that I could have squashed like a bug. I don’t see how John could think we would make a great-looking couple.”
Asked if she felt that Rich had gotten something right, Sanford laughed and said, “He apparently did because the world has been hitching us together ever since.”
Sanford found out about the show’s cancellation by surprise
After 11 seasons on the air, The Jeffersons was canceled. Sanford revealed that she learned of the show’s end, not from Norman Lear or anyone in charge of the series. She found out from someone wholly unconnected to the sitcom.
“I didn’t realize [the show was canceled],” she said. “My cousin in New York is the one that called me and said, ‘I understand The Jeffersons has been canceled.’ I said, ‘Who said so?’ I hadn’t heard. She said, ‘It’s in the tabloids.’ That’s how I found out. They could at least have called us about it.”
How Sanford hoped to be remembered
“I think [The Jeffersons] will always be remembered,” Sanford said. “That’s why I want my star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Because my great-grandchildren and my great-great-great-grandchildren, they can walk past that star and say, ‘That’s my great-great-great grandmother there.’ Legacy here, I’ll be there forever. That’s what I would like.”
Sanford’s wish for Hollywood immortality was granted in 2004. Seven months before her death, she received a star on the Walk of Fame.