The Jeffersons represented the American Dream. With 11 seasons, it's one of the longest-running sitcoms on American television, and it all began as a simple spin-off of All in the Family. That's right, notorious racist Archie Bunker deserves some credit for bringing George Jefferson into the world.
The Jeffersons focused on George and Louise Jefferson, who happen upon a large sum of money. Along with their son Lionel, they moved from Queens to a deluxe apartment in the sky—a luxury high-rise in Manhattan. Florence, their housekeeper, provided comic relief, frequently spazzing on George because of his hairline and height. Both attributes became Sherman Hemsley's trademarks, along with his signature dance.
The Jeffersons remained popular well into the 1980s. During its eighth season, it became the first African-American sitcom since Sanford and Son to crack the top five in ratings. It amassed 13 Emmy nominations, and in 1981, Isabel Sanford (who played Louise, or "Weezie," as she was known) became the second black actress to win the award for Best Actress.
After The Jeffersons ended in 1985, Hemsley and Sanford continued to reprise their roles on other shows, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where they bought the Banks' house in the series finale. Hemsley and Marla Gibbs appeared as George and Florence on Tyler Perry's House of Payne before Hemsley's death last summer at the age of 74.