If you grew up watching the Jefferson’s then you remember hearing George Jefferson shout “Weezy,” when coming coming through the door. “Louise “Weezy” Jefferson was played by “#Isabel Sanford.” Sanford was an African-American stage, film and television actress. She was born in Harlem, New York, to James and Josephine Sanford. She was one of seven children. After graduating from high school, Sanford joined Harlem’s American Negro Theater and the Star Players. Sanford married and eventually had three children. Her marriage was less than perfect, and she ended up separating from her husband. Before breaking into entertainment, she worked raising her family as a single parent. When the doors opened for her to break into the business, she thought she was too old, not pretty enough, and too #Black. However, she didn’t let that stop her. She went on to make a big name for herself.
Sanford made her first debut in 1967 as Tillie the housekeeper in a now-classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. She appeared in the show “All in the Family,” where the Jefferson’s played the Black family living next door to Archie Bunker (played by Carrol O’Connor), who was a known racist on the show. She later became a star in the Jefferson’s sitcom alongside Sherman Hemsley, who played her husband, George Jefferson. Sanford was best known for her deep sultry and raspy voice. There is still to this day no one with a voice quite like Sanford’s. In later years, Sanford made many small appearances in other shows.
Isabel Sanford is the only African-American woman to receive an Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy for her work on the Jefferson’s. Sanford established a scholarship at Emerson College, a prestigious Boston-based school of performing arts and communication. Sanford was always donating to various charities and supporting organizations, but she never wanted to take credit for it. She would often tell people to just use the money for the good of the people, she gave because she wanted to help — not to be recognized.