Isabel Sanford

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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, California 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!"

Highlights
Isabel Sanford on being called in to play "Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family by director John Rich
03:29
Isabel Sanford on "Louise Jefferson's" goodbye scene with Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker on All in the Family
01:11
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

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Isabel Sanford on being called in to play "Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family by director John Rich
03:29
Isabel Sanford on watching All in the Family before she was cast as "Louise Jefferson", and on auditioning for Norman Lear
04:26
Isabel Sanford on her reluctance to leave All in the Family, to do the spin-off The Jeffersons
02:07
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
03:38
Isabel Sanford on Sherman Hemsley being cast as "George Jefferson" on All in the Family
04:53
Isabel Sanford on the storylines of "George and Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family, and the public's response to "Louise Jefferson"
04:16
Isabel Sanford on "Louise Jefferson's" goodbye scene with Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker on All in the Family
01:11
Isabel Sanford on Mike Evans as "Lionel Jefferson" on All in the Family
02:10

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

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Isabel Sanford on becoming a semi-regular on The Carol Burnett Show
04:02

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Isabel Sanford on winning an Emmy for playing "Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
00:55

Jeffersons, The

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Isabel Sanford on her reluctance to leave All in the Family, to do the spin-off The Jeffersons
02:08
Isabel Sanford on the audience reaction to The Jeffersons
01:20
Isabel Sanford on Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West the producers of The Jeffersons
03:16
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"
03:00
Isabel Sanford on Zara Cully as "Mother Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
02:14
Isabel Sanford on Marla Gibbs as "Florence Johnston", the maid of The Jeffersons and on the character of "Ralph the doorman"
02:00
Isabel Sanford on the notion of doing a reunion of The Jeffersons, and on working with Sammy Davis, Jr.
04:07
Isabel Sanford on winning an Emmy for playing "Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
00:55
Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons theme song
02:35
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
04:25
Isabel Sanford on the relationship between "George and Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
01:28
Isabel Sanford on how The Jeffersons, and "Louise Jefferson" will be remembered
04:37
Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons legacy within the African-American community
02:26
Topics

Diversity in Television

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Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons legacy within the African-American community
02:26

Emmy Awards

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Isabel Sanford on winning an Emmy for playing "Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
00:55

Fame and Celebrity

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Isabel Sanford on dealing with fame and celebrity
02:34

Historic Events and Social Change

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Isabel Sanford on her experience with World War II, and on her early memories of television and movies
04:33

Minorities

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Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons legacy within the African-American community
02:26

Pop Culture

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Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons theme song
02:35

TV Theme Songs

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Isabel Sanford on The Jeffersons theme song
02:35

Television Industry

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Isabel Sanford on dealing with fame and celebrity
02:34

War

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Isabel Sanford on her experience with World War II, and on her early memories of television and movies
04:33

World War II

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Isabel Sanford on her experience with World War II, and on her early memories of television and movies
04:33
Professions

Actress

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Isabel Sanford on her process as an actress
03:32

Performers

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Isabel Sanford on her process as an actress
03:32
Genres

Comedy Series

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Isabel Sanford on appearing as Louise Jefferson on All in the Family
18:16
Isabel Sanford on appearing as Louise Jefferson on The Jeffersons
10:52
Isabel Sanford on playing "Louise Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
15:30

Commercials

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Isabel Sanford on appearing in a series of Old Navy and Denny's commercials with Sherman Hemsley
03:29
People

Paul Benedict

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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"
03:00

Franklin Cover

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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"
03:00

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Isabel Sanford on the notion of doing a reunion of The Jeffersons, and on working with Sammy Davis, Jr.
04:07

Mike Evans

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Isabel Sanford on Mike Evans as "Lionel Jefferson" on All in the Family
02:10
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"
03:00

Marla Gibbs

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Isabel Sanford on Marla Gibbs as "Florence Johnston", the maid of The Jeffersons and on the character of "Ralph the doorman"
02:00

Sherman Hemsley

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Isabel Sanford on Sherman Hemsley being cast as "George Jefferson" on All in the Family
04:43
Isabel Sanford on appearing in a series of Old Navy and Denny's commercials with Sherman Hemsley
03:29

Katharine Hepburn

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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
07:30
Isabel Sanford on working with Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"
09:15

Norman Lear

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Isabel Sanford on watching All in the Family before she was cast as "Louise Jefferson", and on auditioning for Norman Lear
04:26

Don Nicholl

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Isabel Sanford on Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West the producers of The Jeffersons
03:17

Carroll O'Connor

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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
03:48

Sidney Poitier

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Isabel Sanford on working with Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"
09:15

John Rich

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Isabel Sanford on being called in to play "Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family by director John Rich
03:29

Roxie Roker

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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"
03:00

Michael Ross

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Isabel Sanford on Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West the producers of The Jeffersons
03:17

Jean Stapleton

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Isabel Sanford on "Louise Jefferson's" goodbye scene with Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker on All in the Family
01:21

Spencer Tracy

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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
07:30
Isabel Sanford on working with Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"
09:15

Bernard West

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Isabel Sanford on Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, and Bernard West the producers of The Jeffersons
03:18

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