When the show’s creators were casting actors for the roles, they wanted Sherman Hemsley to play the iconic George Jefferson. Since Hemsley was at the show’s helm, he had control over his character, and he took advantage of it.
He created the famous walk that we see in the intro and the nickname only he called his wife (Isabel Sanford), Weezy. Read on to find out how the nickname came about.
‘The Jeffersons’ was one of the first shows to have an interracial couple
The Jeffersons revolved around the titular family as they relocated from Queens to Manhattan. Their move came after their dry cleaning business began picking up, and the couple opened more stores in New York.
The show was a spin-off of All in the Family. In the latter, George was the arch-nemesis of Archie Bunker. During an episode in All in the Family titled ‘The Jeffersons Move Up,’ a tearful Edith Bunker bids goodbye to Louise Jefferson as Louise and her family were preparing to move.
George got his big break when he got into a car accident and filed for a lawsuit. He won the suit and was awarded $3200, which he used to open his first dry cleaning store in Queens. This was all detailed in the first season of All in the Family.
By the time The Jeffersons rolled around, George had a five-store dry cleaning chain. When the couple moved to the fictitious high-rise apartment in Manhattan, they became friends with an interracial couple, Tom and Helen Willis, whose daughter married and later divorced Lionel, George’s son.
Hemsley was hunted to play George
Hemsley was born on February 1, 1938, in Philadelphia. His mother was a lamp factory worker. Hemsley didn’t meet his father until he was 14 years old. He dropped out of 10th grade to join the United States Air Force serving for four years.
While he was still working on the Broadway show Purlie, Norman Lear called him and offered him the role of George Jefferson in All in the Family. Hemsley didn’t want to abandon his role on Purlie, so Lear decided to hold the part open for him.
In the first seasons of All in the Family, George’s name is occasionally mentioned, but he is never seen. Lear wanted Hemsley to play George so bad that he ended up creating another role (Lionel’s uncle) so that Hemsley’s part would remain open for him.
Although Hemsley and Isabel were only supporting characters in All in the Family, they were given a spin-off because of their popularity with the audiences. After The Jeffersons wrapped up, Hemsley took on another iconic role on the sitcom Amen.
George’s Weezy nickname was based off on a real-life romance
Throughout the show, George would always yell out “Weezy” when calling his wife, Louise. Fans would be interested to learn that the nickname was a real-life thing. The idea to give his wife the nickname came randomly to Hemsley while on set.
The nickname came about when Hemsley was still a teenager back in Philadelphia. He reportedly had a huge crush on a girl who was older than him.
To get her attention, he called her ‘Weezy,’ and it stuck. The name brought back fond memories, and Hemsley wanted to relive the memories through his TV wife, Louise. He pitched the name to the showrunners and they went with it. The nickname became part of the show’s most notable moments to date.