'The Jeffersons' Star Isabel Sanford Found Out about the Show's Cancellation via the Grape Vine
Although she didn't have a career as successful as Betty White or Meryl Streep, Isabel Sanford was one of the most iconic and recognizable faces in Hollywood.
The actress, who passed back in 2004, was most known for her part in Norman Lear's sitcom "The Jeffersons," where she played the role of Louise Jefferson.
The show is, still to this day, one of the most beloved successful series in the history of television, but the way it ended left Sanford quite shocked, to say the least.
Isabel Sanford as Louise Jefferson, Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson in an episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," January 27, 1995 | Photo: Getty Images
Having run for 11 seasons, nothing seemed to indicate the producers' plans to call it quits, and what surprised Sanford the most was that she had to find out about it through someone not related to the show.
According to her, her cousin in New York, whose name is yet to be revealed, was the one who informed her that she would soon be out of a job. She recalled:
“My cousin in New York is the one that called me and said, ‘I understand The Jeffersons has been canceled.’ I said, ‘Who said so?’ I hadn’t heard. She said, ‘It’s in the tabloids.’ That’s how I found out."
"The Jeffersons" actress Isabel Sanford in 1977 | Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images
This upset Sanford a lot since absolutely no one in charge of the show had the decency to inform any of the actors of the abrupt ending, which was something she believed should have happened.
Nevertheless, the TV icon was quite proud of the "The Jeffersons" and all the success it achieved as well as the social barriers it helped take down while it was on the air.
Ned Wertimer (as Ralph Hart), Sherman Hemsley (as George Jefferson), Roxie Roker (as Helen Willis), Marla Gibbs (as Florence Johnston), Paul Benedict (as Harry Bentley), Isabel Sanford (as Louise Jefferson) and guest star, Billy Dee Williams in "The Jeffersons" | Photo: CBS via Getty Images
A STAR WITH A STAR
She believed the series will forever be remembered, which was why she wished to have her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She said:
"My great-grandchildren and my great-great-great-grandchildren, they can walk past that star and say, ‘That’s my great-great-great-grandmother there.’ Legacy here, I’ll be there forever."
Isabel Sanford being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
It has been reported that she always dreamed of becoming an actress, ever since she was a teenager, even though her mother's death forced her to take a job as a cleaning lady, putting her aspirations on hold.
Sandford became the first black woman to ever win an Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
Isabel Sanford at the 28th Annual Genii Awards Luncheon at Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
A ROUGH UPBRINGING
Having grow-up with almost nothing in Harlem, and being the only one of her 7 siblings to have survived infancy, Sanford fought her whole life to achieve her dreams, one way or another.
Her wish eventually came true in 2004 as she was awarded a star on the Walk of Fame. Sadly, the actress passed away shortly after, just 7 months after receiving the great honor.
Isabel Sanford's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
NOT IMPRESSED WITH HEMSLEY
Sanford was an actress like no other, a woman who wasn't afraid of working hard every single day and walked into every studio with unshakable confidence.
In fact, she once even talked about how while working on "All in the Family," she was introduced to the man who would then become her on-screen husband - Sherman Hemsley.
Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley at the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards at The Hollywood Palladium, in Hollywood, California | Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
According to her, seeing the actor that the producers had chosen to play the role of George Jefferson, was quite disappointing, especially due to his physical appearance at the time.
Sanford described her fellow actor as a "little man" who was thin, so thin that she could have "squashed" him "like a bug," and wasn't really sure that they would be able to make a great-looking couple.
sabel Sanford as Louise Jefferson with her on-air husband, Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson in "The Jeffersons" | Photo: CBS via Getty Images
However, the stars had great chemistry and she later praised the show's director, John Rich, who introduced them, by saying that he did right by choosing Hemsley because fans loved to see them together.
Aside from "The Jeffersons" and "All in the Family," Sanford also starred in "The Love Boat," "The Carol Burnett Show," "Love, American Style" and "The Bill Cosby Show."
THE QUEEN'S DEATH
As aforementioned, Sanford died at the age of 86 in 2004. She drew her last breath at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was hospitalized for a month.
Her official cause of death is a mystery still to this day, but it has been reported that the star had waned after undergoing preventive surgery on a neck artery.
Isabel Sanford during Night of 100 Stars at Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: A. Nevader/WireImage via Getty Images
Marla Gibbs, who played Florence Johnston in "The Jeffersons," remembered Sanford as the show's queen and how she could light up the room and have everybody in stitches while telling one of her stories.
Sandford, who also lent her voice to "The Simpsons" a few months prior to her passing, became the first black woman to ever win an Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.