Sherman Hemsley, who played George Jefferson in “The Jeffersons,” died from a lung mass, according to a post-mortem report from the El Paso County Office of the Medical Examiner, which was first obtained by TMZ. The actor, whose out-of-touch nouveau riche character made him a star on the hit CBS comedy, passed away in his El Paso, Texas, home on July 24 at the age of 74.
The medical examiner's report notes that medical experts advised Hemsley to undergo chemotherapy and radiation before he developed “superior vena cava syndrome,” caused by the lung mass, which ultimately precipitated his death. On all other accounts, the medical examiner noted that Hemsley was healthy and his manner of death was "natural."
After his run as George Jefferson, reruns of the show on TV Land and Nick at Nite caused a resurgence in "The Jeffersons' " popularity. Pushed back in to the spotlight, Hemsley guest starred on a variety of sitcoms with primarily black casts, such as "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "The Wayans Brothers" and "The Hughleys."
Differentiating himself from his TV self, in 1996 Hemsley told The New York Times that he was in fact no way similar to his humorously arrogant character on "The Jeffersons." "I’m nothing like him," he told the paper. "I don’t slam doors in people’s faces, and I’m not a bigot. I’m just an old hippie. You know -- peace and love.”
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