Isabel Sanford

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In her two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Isabel Sanford (1917-2004) discusses her early years growing up and her entrance into live theatre. She speaks about her move to Los Angeles and her subsequent roles on stage, including "The Amen Corner" and "Funny Girl", as well as her first television appearances. She speaks in detail about being cast for a one-time part on All in the Family, which led to her casting as Bunker neighbor, "Louise Jefferson." Sanford discusses her role in the spinoff, The Jeffersons and her later work appearing in several guest roles on situation comedies and commercials. Brad Lemack conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on April 3, 2002.

"People on the street have asked me, 'how in the world could you stand that George Jefferson?'  I said, 'well, if you were getting the money that I'm getting, you'd stand him too!"

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Isabel Sanford on being called in to play "Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family by director John Rich
Isabel Sanford on "Louise Jefferson's" goodbye scene with Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker on All in the Family
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on her teacher who encouraged her talent; on her mother's feeling on her being a performer, and on her comfort in being on stage early on
On her early interest in playing comedy, and on her style; on appearing at amateur night at the Apollo and with the Star Players; on her experience with World War II, and on her early memories of television and movies

Chapter 2

On appearing in "Striver's Row", and on balancing home life with her acting career; on moving to Los Angeles in 1960
on finding work in Los Angeles, and appearing in plays including the Los Angeles production of "Funny Girl", and "The Amen Corner" on Broadway; on her early representation, and on being cast in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"

Chapter 3

On appearing in the feature film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?", and on Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy helping with her transportation; on working with Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"
On becoming a semi-regular on The Carol Burnett Show; on watching All in the Family before she was cast as "Louise Jefferson", and on auditioning for Norman Lear; on being called in to play "Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family by director John Rich

Chapter 4

On her reluctance to leave All in the Family, to do the spin-off The Jeffersons; on working the producers, and with the cast of All in the Family, and on Carroll O'Connor's absences from the show; on Sherman Hemsley being cast as "George Jefferson" on All in the Family
On the storylines of "George and Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family, and the public's response to "Louise Jefferson"; on "Louise Jefferson's" goodbye scene with Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker on All in the Family; on Mike Evans as "Lionel Jefferson" on All in the Family
On the audience reaction to The Jeffersons; on Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West the producers of The Jeffersons; on the supporting cast of The Jeffersons including Franklin Cover, Roxie Roker, Mike and Damon Evans, Paul Benedict, and Zara Cully

Chapter 5

On Marla Gibbs as "Florence Johnston", the maid of The Jeffersons and on the character of "Ralph the doorman"; on the notion of doing a reunion of The Jeffersons, and on working with Sammy Davis, Jr.; on winning an Emmy for playing "Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
On The Jeffersons theme song; on the end of The Jeffersons, on being upset over never having an official final episode, and on the continued popularity of the series; on the relationship between "George and Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
On appearing in a series of Old Navy and Denny's commercials with Sherman Hemsley; on making guest appearances on several shows; on her process as an actress
On appearing in the feature film "Original Gangstas" and in the television movie Jackie's Back!; on career achievements and regrets

Chapter 6

On how The Jeffersons, and "Louise Jefferson" will be remembered; on dealing with fame and celebrity; on The Jeffersons legacy within the African-American community
Shows

All in the Family

View Show Page
Isabel Sanford on being called in to play "Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family by director John Rich
Isabel Sanford on watching All in the Family before she was cast as "Louise Jefferson", and on auditioning for Norman Lear
Isabel Sanford on her reluctance to leave All in the Family, to do the spin-off The Jeffersons
Isabel Sanford on working the producers, and with the cast of All in the Family, and on Carroll O'Connor's absences from the show
Isabel Sanford on Sherman Hemsley being cast as "George Jefferson" on All in the Family
Isabel Sanford on the storylines of "George and Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family, and the public's response to "Louise Jefferson"
Isabel Sanford on "Louise Jefferson's" goodbye scene with Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker on All in the Family
Isabel Sanford on Mike Evans as "Lionel Jefferson" on All in the Family

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

View Show Page
Isabel Sanford on becoming a semi-regular on The Carol Burnett Show

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
Isabel Sanford on winning an Emmy for playing "Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons

Jeffersons, The

View Show Page
Isabel Sanford on her reluctance to leave All in the Family, to do the spin-off The Jeffersons
Isabel Sanford on the audience reaction to The Jeffersons
Isabel Sanford on Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West the producers of The Jeffersons
Isabel Sanford on Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover as "Tom and Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, Paul Benedict as "Mr. Bentley", and Mike and Damon Evans as "Lionel Jefferson"
Isabel Sanford on Zara Cully as "Mother Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
Isabel Sanford on Marla Gibbs as "Florence Johnston", the maid of The Jeffersons and on the character of "Ralph the doorman"
Isabel Sanford on the notion of doing a reunion of The Jeffersons, and on working with Sammy Davis, Jr.
Isabel Sanford on winning an Emmy for playing "Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons theme song
Isabel Sanford on the end of The Jeffersons, on being upset over never having an official final episode, and on the continued popularity of the series
Isabel Sanford on the relationship between "George and Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
Isabel Sanford on how The Jeffersons, and "Louise Jefferson" will be remembered
Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons legacy within the African-American community
Topics

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons legacy within the African-American community

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on winning an Emmy for playing "Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons

Fame and Celebrity

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on dealing with fame and celebrity

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on her experience with World War II, and on her early memories of television and movies

Minorities

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons legacy within the African-American community

Pop Culture

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons theme song

TV Theme Songs

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons theme song

Television Industry

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on dealing with fame and celebrity

War

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on her experience with World War II, and on her early memories of television and movies

World War II

View Topic
Isabel Sanford on her experience with World War II, and on her early memories of television and movies
Professions

Actress

View Profession
Isabel Sanford on her process as an actress

Performers

View Profession
Isabel Sanford on her process as an actress
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Isabel Sanford on appearing as Louise Jefferson on All in the Family
Isabel Sanford on appearing as Louise Jefferson on The Jeffersons
Isabel Sanford on playing "Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons

Commercials

View Genre
Isabel Sanford on appearing in a series of Old Navy and Denny's commercials with Sherman Hemsley
People

Paul Benedict

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover as "Tom and Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, Paul Benedict as "Mr. Bentley", and Mike and Damon Evans as "Lionel Jefferson"

Franklin Cover

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover as "Tom and Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, Paul Benedict as "Mr. Bentley", and Mike and Damon Evans as "Lionel Jefferson"

Sammy Davis, Jr.

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on the notion of doing a reunion of The Jeffersons, and on working with Sammy Davis, Jr.

Mike Evans

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on Mike Evans as "Lionel Jefferson" on All in the Family
Isabel Sanford on Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover as "Tom and Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, Paul Benedict as "Mr. Bentley", and Mike and Damon Evans as "Lionel Jefferson"

Marla Gibbs

View Interview Page
Isabel Sanford on Marla Gibbs as "Florence Johnston", the maid of The Jeffersons and on the character of "Ralph the doorman"

Sherman Hemsley

View Interview Page
Isabel Sanford on Sherman Hemsley being cast as "George Jefferson" on All in the Family
Isabel Sanford on appearing in a series of Old Navy and Denny's commercials with Sherman Hemsley

Katharine Hepburn

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on appearing in the feature film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?", and on Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy helping with her transportation
Isabel Sanford on working with Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"

Norman Lear

View Interview Page
Isabel Sanford on watching All in the Family before she was cast as "Louise Jefferson", and on auditioning for Norman Lear

Don Nicholl

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West the producers of The Jeffersons

Carroll O'Connor

View Interview Page
Isabel Sanford on working the producers, and with the cast of All in the Family, and on Carroll O'Connor's absences from the show

Sidney Poitier

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on working with Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"

John Rich

View Interview Page
Isabel Sanford on being called in to play "Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family by director John Rich

Roxie Roker

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover as "Tom and Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, Paul Benedict as "Mr. Bentley", and Mike and Damon Evans as "Lionel Jefferson"

Michael Ross

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West the producers of The Jeffersons

Jean Stapleton

View Interview Page
Isabel Sanford on "Louise Jefferson's" goodbye scene with Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker on All in the Family

Spencer Tracy

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on appearing in the feature film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?", and on Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy helping with her transportation
Isabel Sanford on working with Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"

Bernard West

View Person Page
Isabel Sanford on Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West the producers of The Jeffersons

All Interviews

Q
S