Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sherman Hemsley (1938-2012)

 Sherman Hemsley, best known for his role as George Jefferson on “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” died last week. After leaving the Army, Hemsley lived at 3301 Baring St. for about eight years while working the midnight shift at the 30th St. Post Office and pursuing his acting career.

Powelton has always been a mixture of long-term owners and  renters and short-term renters, lodgers, and boarders. Many come and go without engaging in the neighborhood while others become known parts of the community. Hemsley was apparently one of the latter. In January, 1965, the Powelton Post included the following:

“Sherman Hemsley, 3301 Baring St., plays Archibald in Jean Genet’s ‘The Blacks’ at the Society Hill Playhouse, 507 S. 8th St. Mr. Hemsley's previous acting experience has been in ‘Under the Yum Yum Tree’ and ‘Pearlie Victorious’ for Theatre 14, Philadelphia's all Negro theatre group.”

It was his role in “The Blacks” that got him noticed in New York and his role in “Pearlie” on Broadway landed him an audition for the role of George Jefferson. In September, 1967, the Philadelphia Tribune reported that Hemsley had been selected to join the prestigious Negro Ensemble, Co. in New York. He had put in for a transfer to the New York Post office, but apparently didn’t need that gig for long.