July 13, 2004 by

Isabel Sanford


Categories: Actors, Hollywood

isanford.jpgIsabel Sanford, the first black actress to win an Emmy Award in a lead comedic role, died on July 9 of natural causes. She was 86.
The New York native always wanted to act. Her mother was against the idea so Sanford snuck out of the house to perform in nightclubs. After winning third place in an amateur contest at the Apollo Theatre, she confessed her extracurricular activities and became a cleaning lady.
Sanford then married William “Sonny” Richmond, had three children and worked as a keypunch operator in the New York City welfare department. She was in her late 20s when the desire to act became a reality. Sanford joined the American Negro Theater, and in 1946, made her stage debut in the play, “On Strivers Row.”
She moved to Los Angeles in 1960 to launch a movie career. Sanford acted in bit parts on TV shows such as “Bewitched” and “The Mod Squad,” and had a semi-regular spot on “The Carol Burnett Show,” but it was her performance in the 1965 Broadway production of “Amen Corner” that caught the eye of director Stanley Kramer. He cast her as the sharp-tongued maid, opposite Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, in the 1967 film classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”
Three years later, TV producer Norman Lear hired Sandford to play the recurring role of Louise “Weezy” Mills Jefferson, Archie Bunker’s neighbor on the hit TV show “All in the Family.” In 1975, the characters of Weezy and her husband George Jefferson (played by Sherman Hemsley) were given their own spin-off sitcom. “The Jeffersons,” a comedy about a black couple who move from blue-collar Queens to the tony Upper East Side, aired for 11 seasons. In 1981, Sanford won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
Although the show was canceled in 1985, Sanford and Hemsley continued to appear together in commercials for Old Navy stores, Denny’s restaurants and Nick at Nite, the cable network currently running “The Jeffersons” in syndication. In recent years, she also made cameos on shows such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “The Young and the Restless.” Sanford was honored with five Golden Globe nominations and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

45 Responses to Isabel Sanford

  1. Richard

    Isabel Sanford was a great actress. She could make you cry one minute laugh the next. She will be missed. My prayers go out to her family.



  3. PMontgomery

    To the Children of Isabel Sanford:
    I lost my mother recently as well. I share in your sorrows. May God bless and keep you safe.

  4. VMW


  5. Jay Newsom

    To the children of Isabel Sanford:
    My condolences to you and friends. She was one of my favorite stars from the time I was 12 years old onward. She was a class act and one of a kind. She will be greatly missed..
    Respectfully, Jay Newsom

  6. Coleen

    I always enjoyed Ms Sanford’s wonderful wit and timing on The Jeffersons and elsewhere…and who could ever forget that voice? A true TV-land legend, she will be missed.


    I loved her as weezie on the jeffersons that was my fave all time show she was the best. She will always be weezie forever. She had a good life may she rest in peace and hope her family holds her in her heart forever and never forget her. Keep her memories alive. WE love ya weezie. She will be gone but not forgotten. She will stay true in our hearts.

  8. anna allen

    My prayers are for the family. I enjoyed Isabel so much on television and she will be missed. I will always remember how much she made me laugh.
    May God bless the children and grandchildren.

  9. christie holcomb

    hi my name is christie holcomb and when i had heard about isabel sanford i was hurt by the loss so i am very sorry for you she was not saved and she is not in heaven so you will not be seeing her again she sould have been in a holy church so she could have got the holy ghost she did not have it so she is in hell.
    christie holcomb

  10. bren

    Ms. Isabel Sanford lived a bountiful and full life. She exemplified the qualities of a true christian lady those being of a strong and couragerous heart. She has gone to a better place to live forever. God bless her soul. Love. Brenda Starr.

  11. A loyal fan

    That was absolutely ignorant of Christie Holcomb to say that Isabel Sanford is in hell. As far as I’m concerned, you’re nothing but a hypocrite Christian who proclaims to be holier than art Thou. Who are you to judge! God is the true righteous judge who is all loving and merciful. You have no right to post a negative comment like that and automatically assume that Isabel Sanford was not saved. Shame on you! I’m a Christian and I’m not exactly sure of Isabel’s spirituality, but no one knows for sure except for the family if Isabel accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. I would like to think so! That was totally uncalled for and I have faith that Isabel Sanford is in heaven. Not only was she a talented actress but a wonderful person and I’m sure in some point in her life, she opened her heart to Jesus and made Him Lord of her life. Again, I don’t know for sure, but it’s more than likely she did. God Bless You Ms. Sanford! You were such a blessing and joy to watch! May God Bless her children and grandchildren and comfort them in their sorrow. My condolences and sympathy. We will always remember and love you Weezy! Jesus has you in His arms.

  12. Annette Lee

    May God Bless your family.my prayers are with you I watched the Jeffersons in tribute on Tv Land the week she passed. and I enjoyed it.again my prayers are you.Annette

  13. Joan

    re christie holcolm, How Stupid. Did you know Ms. Sanford, were you personal friends? How many days did you go with her anywhere? When was the last time you and she had a heart to heart? Oh that’s right, you wouldn’t know those things because you are not God. When you are going to make an unintelligent, stupid comment, go into the toilet and let your mind soak where it belongs.

  14. Hamburger Pimp

    Christie Holcolm you dumb stupid bitch. Get the hell of this site and suck some ass bitch! Don’t disrespect Weezzy motherfucker! Sleep on Mrs Sanford your work is done.

  15. Sandy

    Christie Holcolm you are too dangerous to have a computer especially when you make dumb statements.
    On that great day we all will be surprise who made it in.
    If you dont change your way of thinking you might not make it to heaven yourself.
    Ms. Sanford you will be greatly miss. You were a postive Afro-America role model.
    God bless the Sanford family

  16. Corneli

    To the family of Isabel Sanford, my prayers are with you on the loss of your mother and grandmother. She is greatly missed. May the Lord bless and keep you all.

  17. anthony

    i was very sad to hear about the death of isabel sanford. i used to watch her on the jeffersons and laughed every week. isabel and sherman helmsley were a good match together… i will miss her alot.. i loved watching the old navy comercials with sherman and isabel together. she was a class act. she will be greatly missed by all. god bless u isabel. may your family find comfort in knowing that u were a great lady

  18. William Rodriguez

    Hi Isabel Sanford’s family,
    Your mom/grandmother/aunt was truly a LADY.
    I once wrote her a fan letter expressing how and what I thought of her. She answered back with an autogragh picture. Very classy lady.
    Weezy always comes a live in my living room. I have purchased from COLUMBIA House the “THE JEFFERSON” series VHS (10 tapes) and I watch them with my kids over and over, they like her too.
    Like some of the other people have mentioned, only GOD knew her heart.
    One of many fans,
    William Rodriguez
    P.S. Being able to put up with George Jefferson, automatically makes her an ANGEL.

  19. A

    Isabel, you light up the screen and everyone around you. I’m a strong believer of the resurrection of life but it’s only God’s choice on who will be raised. So I pray I will get to meet you one day. It would be an honor. Sleep well until then.

  20. Frenchy

    This is Frenchy aka lil_weezy on sitcomsonline.com “the jeffersons” message board. I am a true, devoted fan of hers.
    Anyway I was truly sadden by the lost of Ms. Sanford. I, too, have written to her and she was kind enough to reply back with a photo. I was so thrilled at the time. It symbolized her true love for the fans.
    When I found out about her death, which I was just doing my regular internet search on her b/c I like to stay updated on what’s going on with her, I was shocked when it stated that she died. My body literally frozed. I didn’t know how to react, b/c I wasn’t expecting to read that. Then I couldn’t help it, I cried. “It couldn’t be,” was what I kept saying in my mind.
    To Pamela, Sanford K., and Eric (her children)-my condolences goes out to you and the rest of the family.
    I’m going to end this by borrowing the statement that Sherman Helmsley said (may not be quoted accurately): “She finally made it to her deluxe apartment in the sky.”
    Rest in Peace Ms. Isabel G. Sanford
    August 29, 1917-July 09, 2004

  21. Deana

    I just feel like I know her. I was saddened by her passing, but I, like many others believe she is truly resting in a better place. To her family, my condolences and may GOD bless and keep you. You mother was one of the best things to happen for television. She made a whole generation pround. She was truly a class act that will be hard to follow.

  22. robin

    I, on behalf of the Sanford family would like to thank all those who posted their letters of condolense for the family of Isabel Sanford.
    She was a truly beautiful woman, both talented and in her personal beauty. I was fortunate enough to have gotten to meet her, spend time with her and her family.
    Though, due to illness, I didnt get to spend time with the family at the memorial, I still keep in contact with them.
    I want to let you all know that they do appreciate all your heart felt prayers and words of comfort.
    To the ones that truly care, Isabel recieved Christ into her life on her deathbed. Though she was always very spiritual in her own way.
    She will always be remembered for the funny talented wonderful person that she was.
    I will always treasure the time I got to spend with you. You were as wonderful in person as you were on screen.
    I will always love you.
    R I P WEEZY.
    Thank you for the laughs and being you.
    Hug and kiss Uncle Ed for me.

  23. Colin Goldson

    To the family of Ms Sanford I am thirty-five years old and I have been watching the Jefferson’s sinced it aired I am so sorry for your loss. In my mind Ms Sanford will always be a star and stars will always shine for ever. She will be greatly missed, and she has gone to a better place. My prayers are with you….RIP WEEZY

  24. Jasmine

    Isabael was amazin. I love her sooooooo much. She was great as Weezy on the Jeffersons. She will be truly missed. My prayers go out to her family.

  25. lynn

    I also was very saddened when I heard about MS. Sanford’s death. She was a true Shining Star in show buisiness as well as she was in the eyes and hearts of the so many that loved her.
    It is a relief to be assured that she was a saved Christian, in wich I had assumed anyway, but I am so thankful for that. My sympathy and condolences go out to her family. Just remember that she is so much happier now and that GOD is always with you.
    p.s.- To Christie Halcomb, or whatever or whoever you are….You can not be leading a Christian life to actually type something as horrid, disrespectful, and incompassionate as you did. whether it was a joke or not that was wrong!!!!!! You really need to check yourself over! I don’t lead a life of a saint nor do I proclaim to, but I do have respect and compassion for others.
    I know you don’t give a damn about who I am or what I think………but then again I believe I speak for everyone who has the least bit of any respect and feelings for other human beings when I tell you that no one gives a flying fuck who you are or what you have to say!!!! what? you get off by writing terrible shit about the deceased on tribute sites!??!?!?!?
    You’re fucking twisted!!!!!!!!!
    And how close was your relationship with Ms. Sanford for you to know exactly where her heart was and whether she was saved or not?
    Rest In Peace, Ms. Isabel Sanford!!!!!!!!

  26. darnell overton

    I am so sorry for the lost of isabel. she was a good person. I cried in ters when i hered the news. she was and will every be funnest and the most respected actress that we have every see. I am crying rigt now while i am writting this letter. I watch all of her shows she was so wonderful you cant even amagine. to her family she is flying with the angels now no more suffering no more pain. I cant wait to be up in heaven with her and my grandma she pased away to.

  27. darnell overton

    this is for whoever sayed that she is in hell your dead wrong she has always been a angel no matter what she was always a good person. if she put with sherman all that time no matter what is will always be angle now she i flying with my grandma and god and his angle she is with us right now but in spirt. god bless. isabel you are a wonderful women we will miss you so so much. to her childern and her family ask god to help you he will. like i sayed she is with us in spirt right now. she can be standing right next to me right now looking at me we are going to miss her very much thank you isabel for making us laungh and cry. we love you so so much. I wish you were part of my family or i wish i was part of your family. I now you are and still are great person. god bless her . to her family and childern she is in god hans now god bless. one of my favorite epsoide is when they first hired flonence. god bless her and her family and her childern.god bless.

  28. darnell overton

    I just like to add this on to my letter. Iam fourteen. I been watching her the jeffersons ever since I was seven years old my grandma use to watch it all the time untill she died from brest cancer in 2003. she was born march 24,1924 her and isabel is flying eith the angels.

  29. darnell overton

    my grandma was watching the jeffersons when she pass that day and that is the truth. she was very sick she told me before her last five minutes on earth put on the jeffersons five minutes berfore it ended she died she was wacthing the epsiode when they hired the maid flonence god bless mary paige my grandma god bless isabel sanford really my grandma really looked like isabel. I wished i was close to isabel. but i am just a best the greastest friend isabel have I laove isabel and my family do to my mom never stop watching her show she told me no matter what i will always watch her show that goes triple for me god bless Isabel G Sanford and Mary Paige your flying with the angels now. I one we will be together agin love more love Darnell D overton and in all these letters this is the honest god truth.

  30. makki

    Ms. Sanford was and always will be a fond memory in my childhood. She was a beautiful and funny woman. I just found out of her passing, and though it is late, I send my Prayers and Tears to her Loved ones. She will be greatly missed and the Americans have lost a great actress.

  31. henrietta

    Ms. Sanford was such a remarkable woman. From her struggles from youth to overcoming hurdles, she still carried herself as a lady. I truley admire her, she is an inspriation to us all . What better person to thank God for creating than her. I hope one day I can be half the person that she was. God bless the Sanford family

  32. lashenica

    I think that Ms. Sanford was the ideal wife and she taught all women how to be wives. She will be missed. I often watch her on th etelevision and wonder how such good talent had to leave us here, But I know that the home she has now is much better than any home we or even Hollywood could have ever given her. R.I.P(Weezie)

  33. masheil king

    To family and friends of Ms. Isabel Sanford,
    she is my favorite actor and always will even
    though she has past she is in a better place
    with the lord she was a great and honorable
    actor miss her so much

  34. everlee thompson

    i wanted to comment on the story i read about someone said that they think that isabell went to hell.we shouldn’t try to say where we think where people go after they leave here,because if the story be told we need to make sure that we as individuals make it in to meet our Savior.now if you think that Isabell was on her way to hell then you should have been trying to witness to her while she was alive,we are so busy tring to put people in there place and that ain’t even our job.let god do his job,your word don’t have none effect to God’s word.you can’t changed his words or his will.we are so fast to say people are going to hell,i don’t think that we are taking it serious,think about do we really want people to go to hell!! i wouldn’t want my worse enemy with the devil.so let’s go into the streets and tell the people about Jesus and the crime rates will go down.

  35. Kelly

    Isabel you seemed like a wonderful caring and loving person on television and I am certain that you were in real life too.To the Family and Friends of Isabel Sandford I offer my condolences.She will be greatly missed by all.

  36. Kimberly Madison

    Ms. Sanford was truly a wonderful actress and a beautiful lady. I’ve always enjoyed watching her on the Jeffersons. I was shocked to find out that she was 57 when the Jeffersons started airing. She didn’t look her age. She even aged gracefully. We never heard any negative publicity about her. She had wonderful moral values as a lady, and as a person. If the actresses today pattern themselves, even a little bit after Isabel Sanford, I believe their careers will be successful, and they too can be an inspiration to others. She may be gone, but never will be forgotten. Then too, as long as we keep her memory alive, then, Ms. Sanford will live on. God Bless her family, friends, and all who knew her as well as those who only knew of her. Take Care………Minister K. Madison

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