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A Glimpse at Details about 'Sanford & Sons' Star Whitman Mayo's Tragic Death

Lois Oladejo
Jul 04, 2021
03:20 A.M.
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Whitman Mayo's career in Hollywood's classic times spanned over three decades, with him portraying unforgettable characters. Mayo passed on after succumbing to a terminal illness.


Hollywood icon Whitman Mayo made a name for himself in the older times in Hollywood. The star was known for many roles, most especially his beloved character as Grady Wilson on "Sanford & Sons."

Whitman lived out his acting dreams for thirty-five years before his passing. The actor was said to have passed on in 2001 due to health complications that he batted for a while.

Photo of Whitman Mayo as Grady Wilson | Photo: Getty Images



The Hollywood star died at the age of 70 in Atlanta, Georgia, after suffering a heart attack. Two months before his passing, the actor was hospitalized as he was reported to have suffered a hernia.

A spokeswoman for the family announced that he died at early hours when he was being transferred from a former hospital to another.


His most recent work before his passing was his work as a host on Turner South's weekly show, "Liars & Legends." The vice-president of Turner South, David Rudolph, shared condolences on behalf of the television network.

The star also worked on the set of the HBO-produced movie "Boycott," playing the role of Rev. Banyon, one of the composite ministers who worked with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King during the Montgomery bus boycott.



Whitman Mayo was born a New York native, but he lived out most of his adult life in Los Angeles, California. Whitman popularized the role of Grady Wilson in the 1970's TV series "Sanford & Sons."

He studied at Los Angeles City College and the University of California. After graduation, Whitman worked in counseling for the cases of delinquent boys. He was in that field for seven years.


The actor moved on with his love for acting, appearing in many A-list TV shows and movies. His later career had him teaching drama classes at Clark Atlanta University.

Whitman's acting credits include "Different Strokes," "In the Heat of the Night," "Boyz In the Hood," "The Main Event," "Of Mice and Men," "The Cape," and "ER."



When Whitman ended his counseling job, he joined the Los Angeles Theater group and met the multi-hyphenate actor, Frank Silvera. Silvera would later become his mentor after casting Whitman in 1965's "The Amen Corner."

In 1966, Whitman went on to appear in "The Black Klansman," an exploitation flick. The film project had an effect on Whitman that he withdrew from acting to engage in community service for a while.

File Photo from April 14, 1988; Whitman Mayo, also known as Grady on sanford and Son television series | Photo: Getty Images


Whitman returned to acting in 1969 and joined the New Lafayette Theater. He also portrayed roles in movies that allowed both white and black audiences to view Black culture without stereotypes.


He played Grady from 1973 to 1977 and also reprised his role in the show's spinoff, "Sanford Arms." Whitman's character was a man in his sixties, and although he was in his 40s when he bagged Gardy, the actor channeled his grandfather to portray the role.

Whitman Mayo (as Doc Sterling) on THE VAN DYKE SHOW, a 1988 television series. | Photo: Getty Images


The actor became a fan favorite and was given his own spinoff, "Grady," in 1975. The ushering in of the spinoff also marked the birth of his son, Rahn Mayo. Whitman welcomed his son with his wife, Gail Reid Mayo.

Whitman joined "Sanford & Sons" in the third season after producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin felt the need for an additional character. The actor's introduction to the TV series came on the heels of the exit of a former character played by Redd Foxx.

Photo of Whitman Mayo smiling | Photo: Getty Images

Whitman was invited to "Sanford & Sons" and handpicked by Lear and Yorkin from the New York theatre. He started his stint on the show appearing in 11 episodes of the third season.


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