Norman Lear and Sherman Hemsley - When Great Minds Work Together

Who doesn't remember All in the Family or The Jeffersons? I'm grateful to have grown up with both of those shows. I grew up in a time when I could see and hear, through the character Archie Bunker, how stupid racism was. I grew up in a time when it didn't occur to me that there was anything new about seeing a Black family who "moved on up" to a "deluxe apartment in the sky" (as The Jeffersons theme song goes). Seeing a biracial couple who lived next door to The Jeffersons seemed perfectly normal to me. As a kid, it didn't cross my mind that generations before me saw a different version of television. As an adult, I understand just how different television was in the 70's and 80's compared to the 50's and 60's. I'm grateful to Norman Lear, Sherman Hemsley, and everyone else who worked hard to make a difference in American television. 

I'm not saying all the TV shows before the 70's were bad. Definitely not! But, American television did need to change. America needed to change. 

As much as some people over the years have tried to claim that all T.V. is junk that isn't worth watching, I can tell you from my own experience as a kid who got to grow up with shows like All in the Family and The Jeffersons, that this just isn't true. I learned from Archie Bunker how NOT to think. The audience laughed AT him. Even though I was just a little girl, I got it. His ignorant thinking was foolish. What little girl would want to grow up and think like Archie Bunker? 

Although The Jeffersons weren't as political, they still made me think. To this day, when I see a vintage glass doorknob, I think of Louise Jefferson. When she found out that the Harlem building she grew up in was being torn down by the city, she visited her childhood home. I remember how she felt while looking at the old glass doorknobs, reflecting back on what they meant to her as a child. She said that as a little girl, she used to think of them as diamonds, and that one day she wanted to sell them and become rich. She spoke to my heart. I related to being a little girl who would have big daydreams. It was nice for me to see that indeed Louise did become rich. But, I felt sympathy for the loss of her childhood home. To this day, I hate when old buildings are torn down just to build new buildings, if the old buildings are salvageable. And, to this day, I have a special place in my heart for diamond doorknobs.

It takes great minds working together to make greatness and to make change. Norman Lear created and wrote great shows, like The Jeffersons. Talented, hardworking actors like Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley brought the characters to life and made them real for us.

Sherman Hemsley passed away this week. I'm sorry we won't get to see him in any new shows. But, his memory will live on through his TV performances on The Jeffersons, Amen, and many other shows, along with films and music. 

The birthday of Norman Lear happens to also be this week. Norman Lear celebrates his 90th birthday tomorrow. Norman Lear clearly isn't one to let old thinking and ways of the past get in his way of fresh ideas and progress, so of course he is still working at this age. If you check out his Wikipedia page, you'll see that he was just recently working on a new sitcom. You'll also see the long list of television shows written and produced by Norman Lear. Wow! Happy 90th Birthday, Norman Lear! 




Thank you to   for posting the video clip on YouTube!