I’m not sure which is the bigger bummer, the loss of this funny actor or how I found out…through a magazine, not via the instantaneous Internet.
Either way, Sherman will be missed even if he was probably retired. As Mr. Jefferson, he made my brother and me laugh so hard in the Seventies on The Jeffersons. We were kids who were oblivious of the racial politics on the show. Name a kid under 12 that didn’t laugh during the pilot when Mr. Jefferson ran through his family’s new Manhattan apartment to flush all four of its toilets; it was a demonstration of affluence to his wife.
It was awesome to see Sherman get a second wind on the sitcom Amen despite its shorter run. Him playing the status-obsessed, money-conscious deacon was a good fit. I think the role differed enough yet played to his strengths.
I remember him being a rather talented dancer and singer. Sherman did some clever number with Dawn (the singers backing Tony Orlando) on TV. He could move. Wish I knew the song. The lyrics/chorus involved putting more coal in the boiler.
My other favorite and hilarious moment was Sherman’s cameo as the preacher in Love at First Bite. It played toward some Black American stereotypes but it showed he may have missed his calling.
May The Jeffersons never be rebooted. It will never be the same without Sherman and the historical context does matter. Besides, Sherman played a lead character American TV hadn’t seen before.