Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘The Jeffersons’ Cast: What Happened to the Beloved 70s Stars?

‘The Jeffersons’ Cast: What Happened to the Beloved 70s Stars?

The Jeffersons cast spent a lot of time on TV. They brought laughs and created memorable moments for 11 wonderful seasons.

That makes this Norman Lear sitcom one of the longest-running shows in television history. Putting black Americans in a successful “movin’ on up” environment in the 1970s showed the world a different way to see and understand them.

And this cast just knocked it out of the park all the time. Every single one of The Jeffersons cast members had experience in the world of show business. They brought that expertise to the show every episode.

Now, George and Louise Jefferson actually were introduced to the world on All in the Family. Sherman Hemsley played George on All in the Family for a few episodes. Isabel Sanford played Louise from her first appearance on All in the Family until her final one on The Jeffersons.

Many of ‘The Jeffersons’ Cast Members Have Passed

Looking at The Jeffersons cast members, many have died since the sitcom aired.

These include Helmsley, Sanford, Franklin Cover, Roxie Roker, Paul Benedict, Mike Evans, and Zara Cully. Cully died during the show’s original run, yet she made her presence felt as Mama Jefferson. Several actors in this group went on to appear in other sitcoms and shows beyond their work on The Jeffersons.

Roker has a connection to popular music as she’s the mother of guitar musician Lenny Kravitz.

Another quick note. This show didn’t get a proper send-off like other sitcoms. A lot of cast members read or heard about their show’s cancellation from other media sources. It never sat well with Sanford or Helmsley that this happened.

Now, back to The Jeffersons cast. Who is still alive from that show? There are a few notable names. Among them include Belinda Tolbert, Marla Gibbs, Jay Hammer, and Damon Evans (Lionel #2).

Gibbs, 92, is the last original member of The Jeffersons cast who is still alive. Of course, she played Florence, maid to George and Louise. Gibbs had some memorable lines from the show, always managing to have a quick comeback if George tried to put her down. She starred in the very short-lived spin-off Checking In and had a longer time on 227.

Jay Hammer, Damon Evans Are Still Around

Hammer played Allan Willis on the show. He was the son of interracial couple Tom and Helen Willis (Cover and Roker). Hammer also gained notoriety from his time on the soap opera Guiding Light. Other TV show appearances in his career included Kojak, The Blue Knight, Emergency!, and Mannix. These days, he’s retired from acting.

Damon Evans took over the Lionel role after Mike Evans left. He was on there between 1975-79. Damon Evans also portrayed Alex Haley between 17-25 years old in the Roots sequel Roots: The Next Generations.

Tolbert played Tom and Helen’s daughter Jenny. She got engaged to Lionel Jefferson, George, and Louise’s son, while those characters were on All in the Family. Ultimately, Jenny and Lionel got married and had a child. Tolbert played Jenny throughout the show’s run, even when Mike Evans split and Damon Evans played Lionel. She’s also done film work, appearing in Goodfellas and Harlem Nights, among others.

And one quick trivia question. Who sang The Jeffersons theme song? None other than Ja’net DuBois, who starred as Willona Woods on Good Times. The Jeffersons cast is still getting a lot of love from classic TV fans. Reruns pop up on the “Black Classics” channel on PlutoTV.