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My NPR adventure: Talking Sherman Hemsley and George Jefferson after great actor's passing



george-jefferson-on-the-jeffersons.jpgSad as it is to see major TV icons pass away, the losses do inspire us to remember how much these folks meant to us in the first place -- how their rise and development mirrored the pace of our lives and culture.

So it was oddly comforting to spend time with NPR Wednesday dissecting the life and legacy of Sherman Hemsley, the man who brought an energetic life to one of TV's most enduring characters, George Jefferson.

One thing we didn't get around to discussing -- explored in this excellent post on Richard Prince's Journal-isms online column -- was speculation among some fans that Hemsley may have been gay.

Combined with the recent, posthumous outing of astronaut Sally Ride, the chatter about Hemsley, who was not married and had no children, got journalism ethicists talking about how to discuss such issues when they may surface for the first time in a celebrity's obituary.

At NPR, our focus was on the character's impact, the way The Jeffersons' reflected the new direction of socially-conscious sitcoms at the time and the impact playing such a character may have had on Hemsley, who died Tuesday at age 74 in his Texas home.

Check it out below.

[Last modified: Thursday, July 26, 2012 10:44am]


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