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Sherman Hemsley Was Rumored to Be Gay & Lived with a Male Friend for More than 20 Years - Inside His Personal Life

Olawale Ogunjimi
Oct 02, 2021
06:30 P.M.
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Everyone knew that Sherman Hemsley from the 1970s hit sitcom "The Jeffersons," was an incredible actor, but there was a part of his life that was kept a secret for years. Here is a look into his personal life.

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Sherman Hemsley played George Jefferson, a loudmouth, insensitive and arrogant man, on the hit show, "The Jeffersons." However, as surprising as it may seem, his character was a fan favorite.

He was first featured as George in "All in the Family," and then continued his character in "The Jeffersons," a drama that ran for years.

Sherman Hemsley (as George Jefferson), from the CBS situation comedy, "The Jeffersons." | Photo: Getty Images

Sherman Hemsley (as George Jefferson), from the CBS situation comedy, "The Jeffersons." | Photo: Getty Images

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Despite Hemsley's unappealing and controlling character, the actor made it somewhat endearing to the viewers, who saw him as a man who possessed a love for his family.

He appeared on other shows after the family drama and racked a long list of award nominations during his time in the industry. This talented actor also lived an intriguing life, with intriguing details that were not clear until his death.

Actor Sherman Hemsley attending the MTV Networks Upfront 2003 presentation to advertisers in New York City. I Photo: Getty Images.

Actor Sherman Hemsley attending the MTV Networks Upfront 2003 presentation to advertisers in New York City. I Photo: Getty Images.

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HEMSLEY'S YEARS BEFORE FAME

Hemsley was born in Philadelphia into a working-class family. His dad worked in a printing press, while his mother was employed by a factory.

Hemsley discovered his knack for acting at a young age; he majored in acting at the Philadelphia Academy of Dramatic Acts during his teenage years before proceeding to the New York workshops and theatre companies, such as the Negro Ensemble Company.

Isabel Sanford as Louise Jefferson with her on-air husband, Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson, from the CBS situation comedy, "The Jeffersons." I Photo: Getty Images

Isabel Sanford as Louise Jefferson with her on-air husband, Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson, from the CBS situation comedy, "The Jeffersons." I Photo: Getty Images

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The actor never gave up on his dreams, even after getting a job with the U.S postal service, where he worked for eight years. He appeared in various productions part-time, juggling it with his work as a clerk at the post office.

It was not until 1970 that Hemsley got a shot at featuring on the musical adaptation of Ossie Davis' "Purlie Victorious. " While touring for the Broadway performance, he came in contact with the prolific producer, Norman Lear, who cast him in "All In the Family. "

Actress Isabel Sanford and Actor Sherman Hemsley at the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards held on March 7, 2004. | Photo: Getty Images

Actress Isabel Sanford and Actor Sherman Hemsley at the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards held on March 7, 2004. | Photo: Getty Images

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HIS PERSONAL LIFE

As his fame grew, Hemsley became more humble. A close associate explained that Hemsley could not understand why he was so popular; the man was very private but kind and generous.

Despite his oblivion to his influence, he never stopped trying to put out enjoyable content. His onscreen credits include special appearances on "Family Matters," and roles in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Love at First Bite," "Stewardess School," "Ghost Fever," and an album, "Ain't that a Kick in the Head."

Hemsley tried to live under the radar, but the gossip mills did not spare him. The man never had kids, nor did he walk down the aisle with any woman or man.

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Actor Sherman Helmsley speaks at the MTV Networks Upfront 2003 presentation to advertisers at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden on May 6, 2003. | Photo: Getty Images

Actor Sherman Helmsley speaks at the MTV Networks Upfront 2003 presentation to advertisers at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden on May 6, 2003. | Photo: Getty Images

However, during his career, there were rumors of his sexuality; it was deduced that his sexuality caused friction between him and another "The Jeffersons" star, Isabelle Sanford.

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Although it was never confirmed, in 2007, a VH1 story listed him as part of the three top gay black stars, and after his death in 2012, Flora Enchinton, the woman who inherited his fortune, hinted about his personal life.

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Enchinton was described as his "beloved partner" and manager, and she lived with him for many years. She spoke highly about her deceased friend and revealed she was welcomed into his residence, where he lived with his friend Kenny Johnston.

According to her revelations, these two had been living together for about twenty years before Hemsley's demise. She met them when they were running from Los Angeles to start life afresh.

Actor Sherman Hemsley arrives at the LG's Mobile TV Party held at Paramount Studios | Photo: Getty Images

Actor Sherman Hemsley arrives at the LG's Mobile TV Party held at Paramount Studios | Photo: Getty Images

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REVELATIONS AFTER HIS DEATH

The actor passed away in 2012, at age 74, in his El Paso, Texas home, after battling lung cancer. Thankfully, he had lived a full life, impacting his colleagues, fans, friends, and the media.

There were a lot of revelations after his death, but Hemsley was not alive to speak for himself; even if he was, he would have maintained silence on the issue of his sexuality, as he always did.

A portrait of actor Sherman Hemsley. | Photo: Getty Images

A portrait of actor Sherman Hemsley. | Photo: Getty Images

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After his death, a journalist,Michael Musto, published an article where he strongly affirmed that the actor was gay.

Musto, who writes for The Village Voice, expressed his disappointment that Hemsley was termed as a "lifelong bachelor." He explained that the man was gay and that it was not a horrible thing to say. According to Musto:

"Um, he was gay. Is that so horrible to come out and say? A friend of mine even notes that he knew hustlers that tricked with Sherman. Yes. He paid for it."

Actor Sherman Hemsley attends the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards held on March 7, 2004 at The Hollywood Palladium, in Hollywood, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Actor Sherman Hemsley attends the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards held on March 7, 2004 at The Hollywood Palladium, in Hollywood, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Another woman, Joyce Ladner, who was part of the office of the interim president of Howard University, honored the deceased and

referred

to him as "out and proud" and a man who was approved by many despite how his choice made him keep some details of his life discreet.

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