Sherman Hemsley — born in 1938, grew up at 22nd and Christian, went to Central High — didn’t want to be pinned down. He didn’t have an agent or a permanent address when Norman Lear finally convinced him to read for the part of the cantankerous George Jefferson on CBS’s All in the Family. (Lear had tried to lure him to television for years, after seeing the stage actor in Purlie on Broadway.) George Jefferson first traded barbs with noted honky Archie Bunker in 1973 and did so until The Jeffersons moved on up to their own sitcom from 1975 to 1985. The role made Hemsley a star, and he returned to it on occasion on stage and in other sitcoms. He went on to play similar characters on NBC’s Amen (scheming preacher Deacon Frye) and ABC’s Dinosaurs (B.P., a loudmouthed Triceratops boss). By all accounts, the real Hemsley was a shy and gentle man, which may account for his initial resistance to a role that included a lot of cocky one-liners about race and politics. For a clearer picture, we can look to other aspects of his life: four years in the Air Force, a singing career that led to an appearance on Soul Train in 1992, a love of prog rock that had him recording a (still-unreleased) album with Yes frontman Jon Anderson in 1999. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.