'The Jeffersons' Isabel Sanford Felt Disrespected That the Series Never Aired a Finale: 'Mary Tyler Moore' Got a Closing Show'
When the CBS comedy The Jeffersons starring Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley as Louise and George Jefferson came to an end in 1985, it simply faded away.
No series finale, no emotional goodbyes.
As Sanford said in an interview two years before her death, “I thought we should at least have that respect.”
Sanford didn’t want to appear in ‘The Jeffersons’
When The Jeffersons was spun off from All in the Family in 1975, Sanford didn’t want to go. She enjoyed working on the Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton comedy and was concerned the new show wouldn’t do as well.
She worried needlessly, as the show would go on to earn her an Emmy Award for her role as “Weezy” Jefferson and ten seasons with an adoring fan base.
“I didn’t want to do the spin-off,” she told the Television Academy Foundation in 2002. “Because All in the Family was a success. I didn’t know what The Jeffersons was going to present. It was sad to say goodbye.”
Marla Gibbs said Norman Lear made the show a hit
Gibbs, who portrayed The Jeffersons‘ maid Florence Johnston, put in a surprise appearance along with show creator Lear on the 2019 ABC reboot, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s The Jeffersons.
The actor credits Lear with turning the series into the long-running success it became.
“I can’t put it into words but when I met [Lear], I just loved him in the beginning because everything he said was so apropos and when he came to the set, the notes he gave made so much sense,” she said.
Gibbs added that she had to teasingly scold Lear later during the show’s run because he was no longer visiting the cast on the set.
“He stopped coming to the set and I saw him in the hallway and I said, ‘Why don’t you come to our show anymore?’ And he said, ‘Well, you guys don’t need me. Why, do you want me to come?’ I said, ‘Yeah!’”
Sanford was offended that ‘The Jeffersons’ had no finale
Once The Jeffersons was canceled in its tenth season, the final episode really was the final episode. Without any kind of fanfare, the series was concluded and for Sanford, it was hurtful and disrespectful.
“I thought we could have at least had like an hour closing show,” she said. “You see, the other sitcoms, they had a closing show. Mary Tyler Moore, M*A*S*H, and the others that were playing along with us at the same time.”
It’s clear the neglect by CBS to properly bid The Jeffersons farewell was still an open sore for Sanford all these years later.
“They all had a closure,” she said. “I thought we should at least have that respect. We had been running as long as they had.”
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