'Jeffersons' star Sherman Hemsley dies at 74

July 24, 2012 at 6:14 PM ET

Actor Sherman Hemsley, famous for playing Archie Bunker's former neighbor George Jefferson in the "All in the Family" spin-off "The Jeffersons," has died at 74, his representative said in a statement to Reuters.

The El Paso, Texas, police said in a press release that the actor was found at a residence "without signs of life," and that the cause of death is pending autopsy results. Police do not suspect foul play.

On "The Jeffersons," Hemsley played a dry-cleaning tycoon who'd worked his way up from a small store to a chain. Isabel Sanford played his wife Louise, whom George often called Weezie, and Marla Gibbs played the couple's maid, Florence.

As with producer Norman Lear's "All in the Family," the show didn't shy away from racial humor and jokes. Hemsley's George was in his own way as stubborn and prejudiced as Archie Bunker, regularly trying to exploit his own maid, and often delivering jokes at the expense of Helen and Tom Willis, a married couple of different races.

"The Jeffersons" ran from 1975 to 1985. After that show ended, Hemsley moved on to star as Deacon Earnest Frye on the sitcom "Amen."

Hemsley also performed on Broadway and appeared on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "The Hughleys" and "Clunkers." He also voiced Triceratops B.P. Richfield on Jim Henson's "Dinosaurs."

Hemsley was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe, both for his "Jeffersons" role.

In 1989, he released a single, "Ain't That A Kick in the Head."

Hemsley never married and has no children. He was living in El Paso, Texas at the time of his death.

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