'All in the Family's' Isabel Sanford Once Discussed Her Impact on Weezy Jefferson's Character

Late American actress Isabel Sanford is fondly remembered for her roles in the hit television series of the 1970s and 1980s, "All In The Family" and "The Jeffersons," and once spoke of the impact she had on her character. 

Actress Isabel Sanford made a huge impact on film and television before her death. She first conquered Broadway, where she held sway for over thirty years before moving to Hollywood, where she made several television and film appearances. 

Her most famous role came in the 1970s when she starred in the sitcom "All In The Family" (1971-1975) and its spinoff, "The Jeffersons" (1975-1985). 

Isabel Sanford is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 15, 2004. | Photo: Getty Images

Isabel Sanford is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 15, 2004. | Photo: Getty Images

In "All In The Family," Sanford and Sherman Hemsley portrayed a Black couple residing near the prejudiced Archie Bunker. On "The Jeffersons," she portrayed Louise "Weezy" Jefferson, wife of the annoying George, also characterized by Hemsley, and the owner of a successful dry cleaning business. 

In an interview shared by Foundation Interviews, Sanford spoke about the character she portrayed in "All In The Family" and "The Jeffersons," revealing the impact she had on her character. 

Actress Isabel Sanford attends the 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 13, 1981. | Photo: Getty Images

Actress Isabel Sanford attends the 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 13, 1981. | Photo: Getty Images

When asked if she had any input into the storylines for her character, she said everybody had an input if they felt the line was not right for them, and if that happened to be the case, the line was changed. 

The interviewer then asked Sanford if she could recall any incident when she had to change the storyline so that the people at CBS would not agree to it. In her reply, she revealed she never had such problems and that any issues would have been dealt with before the actors got to do their thing. 

Her health had deteriorated after she underwent preventive surgery on a neck artery ten months before her demise.

Actress Isabel Sanford at the 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 13, 1981. | Photo: Getty Images

Actress Isabel Sanford at the 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 13, 1981. | Photo: Getty Images

Sanford also revealed she once told the writers that they got her character as pure as snow, wondering if there was something she could say to spice up her role, as Hemsley's character, George, had everything. 

They told her that George could say certain things that she could not say. She also said there were things said in the writers' room that were crossed out by the time acting began. 

Sanford wanted her character to be more vocal than the writers portrayed her but was told she could be if a situation arose. The late actress admitted that viewers responded to her character despite her purity. 

She recalled a scene when George bought a $300 watch for their son, Lionel, causing her to react in a way that caused roaring laughter and surprise to many of those around. Sanford said such scenes typified her character's shock value ― coming up with unexpected lines and actions that wowed people. 

Isabel Sanford during 2nd Annual Family Television Awards at Beverly Hilton on August 02, 2000. | Photo: Getty Images

Isabel Sanford during 2nd Annual Family Television Awards at Beverly Hilton on August 02, 2000. | Photo: Getty Images

Sanford died on July 9, 2004, at 86 years old. She died of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was hospitalized. Her health had deteriorated after she underwent preventive surgery on a neck artery ten months before her demise. 

Sanford made history in 1981 when she became the first Black woman to win an Emmy Award for best actress in a comedy series and remains a Hollywood icon, one whose impact continues to be felt today.

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