Sherman Hemsley of TV's "The Jeffersons" dies

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by Laura Matovina

EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- Sherman Hemsley, the actor who made the irascible, bigoted George Jefferson of "The Jeffersons" one of television's most memorable characters and a symbol for urban upward mobility, has died. He was 74.

Police in El Paso, Texas, said late Tuesday that Hemsley was found dead at his home. The cause of death is pending.

The Philadelphia-born Hemsley played the blustering black Harlem businessman on CBS's "All in the Family" before he was spun off onto "The Jeffersons," which in 11 seasons from 1975 to 1985 became one of TV's most successful sitcoms -- particularly noteworthy with its mostly black cast.

Hemsley and the Jeffersons often dealt with contemporary issues of racism, but more frequently reveled in the sitcom archetype of a short-tempted, opinionated patriarch trying to control his family.

Hemsley later starred in the sitcom "Amen."

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