Sanford and Son is a 1970s sitcom that is often described as the grandfather of African American sitcoms such as Family Matters.
With the recent passing of one of its cast members, Sanford and Son has been brought back to the attention of the public.
This show and its cast changed the way that family-oriented sitcoms presented family life.
Who Is Still Alive From Sanford And Son?
There are four recurring cast members from Sanford and Son that are still alive, including Demond Wilson, Lynn Hamilton, Hal Williams, and Howard Platt.
Since the show’s release in the 1970s, the majority of the cast members have since passed away and those remaining are only getting older.
Demond Wilson, who played Lamont Sanford, was born on October 13th in 1946, and is currently 75 years old.
Before his time on the 1970s sitcom, Wilson served in the United States Army from 1966 until 1968 as a member of the 4th Infantry.
After his time on Sanford and Son, Wilson devoted his life to ministering to former inmates and became a minister by 1984.
He later went on to start the Restoration House of American, which helps give former inmates vocational training and spiritual guidance.
Lynn Hamilton played Fred Sanford’s girlfriend Donna Harris and was born on April 25th of 1930.
Although she is no longer acting at 91 years old, Hamilton kept acting until 2009.
Her last role was Mary Chisolm in Cold Case.
Appearing in the recurring role of Officer Smith or “Smitty” on the show, Hal Williams has been alive since December 14th of 1938 and is now 83 years old.
Williams is still an extremely active actor and has even expanded his career into voice acting for video games such as Disintegration.
Hal Williams was in Denzel Washington’s movie Flight and has been all over television, appearing in shows such as Parks and Recreation, The Sinbad Show, and even Tales from the Crypt.
Despite having such a busy work schedule, Hal still makes time to host the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation’s charitable events.
Smitty’s stereotypically Caucasian partner, Officer Hopkins (“Hoppy”) was played by Howard Platt, who is the last member of the cast that is still around, at the same age as Hal Williams.
Before starring on the show, Platt served in the United States Army for many years until 1963.
What Happened To Redd Foxx?
Redd Foxx played the namesake character Fred Sanford in the show Sanford and Son and often took the spotlight whenever his boisterous character was onscreen.
From the way that Foxx was born, nobody would have ever guessed that he’d later become one of the most monumental comedians ever.
Redd Foxx’s birth name was John Elroy Sanford.
He was born into poverty in 1922.
His stage name of “Redd Foxx” came from a nickname that his ruddy complexion had earned him.
Foxx left home when he was only 13 years old to travel around the country playing the washboard for a band.
The band didn’t last long, and Foxx was off to New York City by the time he was 16 years old.
During his time in New York City, Foxx began working on his comedy and performing at every black theater and nightclub he could get into.
While in New York, he happened to meet many famous people including Malcolm X.
In 1951, Redd Foxx teamed up with Slappy White for live comedy shows until 1955.
White and Foxx would become lifelong friends who would share the stage again on Sanford and Son and The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour.
Foxx later traveled to Los Angeles to record some of his standup comedy.
For his first record, the legendary comedian would get paid only $25.
By 1972, Redd Foxx would be signed on by Norman Lear to create Sanford and Son, which was inspired by the BBC comedy, Steptoe and Son.
Redd left the show in 1977, after which, he would reprise the role of Fred G. Sanford in a short-lived revival known simply as Sanford.
After Foxx’s time as Fred Sanford ended, he started The Redd Foxx Show.
The last project that Redd Foxx worked on was The Royal Family, where Foxx played Alfonso Royal.
However, the show would immediately end after Foxx had a massive heart attack on set on October 11th of 1991.
When Did Slappy White Pass Away?
Slappy White was a lifelong friend of Redd Foxx and played Melvin in his friend’s sitcom and was his longtime comic partner when touring for shows.
Before White was Foxx’s comic partner, the pair were dancing partners who would perform inside and outside of nightclubs and theaters.
Slappy White was born near the Old Royal Theater in Baltimore and always had a passion to keep people entertained.
When he was a child, he used to dance outside of the theater for pennies and sell candy for the shows going on inside.
White missed a lot of school trying to make enough money to support himself and his family and risked being sent to reform school if he didn’t return to school.
However, the young entertainer wasn’t able to stop working and had to intention of going to reform school, so he decided to run away and join the circus.
White would call upon his misfortune as a younger man for inspiration for his comedy acts as an older man.
Throughout the 1960s, you could find Slappy White at many of the shows and parties hosted by Rat Pack member Dean Martin, who was a loyal fan of the comedian.
The comic often struggled to find television until Redd Foxx had him join his sitcom, Sanford and Son.
After appearing on the show, Slappy White was offered a million-dollar contract to perform at the Flamingo Hotel in 1973.
He would also appear all over television, in shows such as That’s My Mama, The Royal Family, Cybill, The John Larroquette Show, and was a frequent guest on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
While he was in the process of moving from Los Angeles, he suffered a heart attack and passed away in Atlantic City in 1995 at the age of 74.
What Did Whitman Mayo After The Show?
Whitman Mayo was born and raised in New York, mainly living in Queens and Harlem before moving to California with his family when he was 17 years old.
During his time in Los Angeles, he attended the University of California.
Mayo would often get cast for roles that were much older than he was, like his character Grady Wilson in Sanford and Son.
He never let this fact bother him and was glad to build a career on intimidating older people.
During his career, he quickly became friends with Redd Roxx and legendary actress Marla Gibbs.
Audiences would fall in love with Mayo’s character so much that he was given his own spin-off mini-series called Grady and would appear again as Grady Wilson in Sanford Arms.
He would later go on to appear in other productions such as Diff’rent Strokes, Family Matters, Full House, Boyz in the Hood, The Van Dyke Show, and Hell Town.
Whitman Mayo made a major splash and became known as one of the funniest men on television.
Despite the success he found on television, Mayo never saw acting as a career that was stable enough for him to retire from.
With the hopes of retiring comfortably, Mayo opened a travel agency in Inglewood, California.
After his acting career had slowed down by the late 1990s, Mayo was ready for the next step in his career.
He began teaching at the Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, which is where he worked until he passed away in May of 2001.
Whitman Mayo had been suffering from a hernia and had been getting treatment at the hospital for two months when he suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 70.
The legendary comic actor left behind his three children, his wife, and his mother.
What Became Of Don Bexley?
Don Bexley is best known for playing Bubba Bexley, reflecting the real-life friendship that he shared with Redd Foxx.
While their characters from Sanford and Son may have been close in age, the real-life duo had a 12-year age difference with Bexley being the elder.
Bexley was born on March 10th of 1910 in Jamestown, Virginia.
His father was a biblical scholar, and his mother was a classical violinist.
Redd Foxx and Slappy White had met Don Bexley while touring the black theaters and nightclubs of New York City and became quick friends.
While Slappy White may have been friends with Dean Martin, Don Bexley was friends and the old dancing partner of Sammy Davis, Jr.
Don Bexley was the first black stand-up comedian to ever perform at the Mountain Hotel.
He also spent his early career doing theater in New York City and Los Angeles.
After Sanford and Son, Bexley went on to appear on the spin-off show Sanford Arms and other popular shows such as Cheers, Hunter, True Colors, and T.J. Hooker.
Like White, Bexley was also given the role of Elston on Redd Foxx’s last show, The Royal Family.
Finding such success early on allowed Bexley to travel the world, going to places all over Europe and Asia.
Redd Foxx called Don Bexley back to the United States to shoot their movie Cotton Comes to Harlem in 1969.
Foxx would call Bexley back again from his travels around Asia in 1971 to join Sanford and Son.
Bexley would later be one of the honorary pallbearers for Redd Foxx’s casket in 1991 before passing away of heart and kidney failure in 1995.
He died in the town of Hampton, Virginia, and was buried in the town’s Memorial Gardens.
The Life Of Pat Morita
Pat Morita, who was best known for playing Arnold in Happy Days as well as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, also had a recurring role on Sanford and Son.
In the show, Morita played the role of Ah Chew and would also play the role of Colonel Hiakowa during a flashback sequence.
Morita started his entertainment career as a stand-up comedian who would do shows under the name the Hip Nip and began his acting career in 1967 with the show Thoroughly Modern Millie.
His history in both comedy and television made him the perfect cast member for Redd Foxx’s show.
It was Redd Foxx who had first discovered Morita as a comedian and was more than eager to help boost the California native’s comedy career.
Although Morita put on a thick accent for his roles throughout his career, he actually grew up in Fairfield, California and graduated from Armijo High School.
As a child, Pat Morita was diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis and his parents were told that he would never be able to walk again.
He struggled in the hospital for 9 years and when he was finally free, he was able to walk again.
However, this wasn’t the only tragedy that befell young Morita.
While he was young, he and his family were sent to an internment camp in Arizona and his family lost all of their belongings and their freedom.
After spending a year in the first internment camp, his family was sent to a second internment camp called Manzanar, which was located in Northern California.
Morita used the tragedies that he had witnessed in his life to motivate him to spread joy with his comedy and entertainment.
On November 24th of 2005, at the age of 73, Pat Morita passed away from kidney failure while in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Losing Nathaniel Taylor
Nathaniel Taylor was another friend and castmate of Redd Foxx, filling in the role of Rollo Larson.
Taylor began his acting career only a year earlier than Foxx and was an experienced television actor by the time he starred on Sanford and Son.
During his early career, Taylor went by the name Jita Hadi and starred in shows and movies such as Listen to a Man, The Bold Ones: The Senator, Black Girl, As Above as Below, and Trouble Man.
Before using the name Nathaniel Taylor, he also went by the name Richard Lawson for his role in Willie Dynamite.
By his time on Harry O, Taylor had started to go by Nathaniel Taylor, which is how he’d be billed on the show he shared with Redd Foxx.
After his time on Sanford and Son, Taylor went on to appear in shows such as Passing Through, What’s Happening!!, Sanford, The Hunter, 227, and The Redd Foxx Show.
The low ratings and subsequent cancelation of The Redd Foxx Show were enough to convince Nathaniel Taylor that it was time to step away from the spotlight in order to enjoy other parts of life.
He spent the rest of his life alongside his wife, Loretta Taylor.
Together, Nathaniel Taylor and his wife had four daughters and three sons, who went on to bring the couple six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Sadly, Nathaniel Taylor suffered a heart attack at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center at the age of 80 years old.
The Recent Death Of Gregory Sierra
The most recent cast member from Sanford and Son to pass away was Gregory Sierra, who is best known for playing Julio Fuentes.
When Sierra was young, it was acting that saved him from a life of crime and potential imprisonment.
Gregory Sierra was born in Spanish Harlem and was raised by his aunt after his parents deserted him.
However, his aunt lived in a troublesome part of town that was heavily controlled by Irish gangs of the 1940s.
During his childhood, he was heavily tempted to join the gangs in hopes that he could change the fate of himself and his aunt.
However, a childhood friend steered him in a completely different direction when he brought Sierra along for an audition.
Gregory Sierra fell in love with acting and couldn’t begin to imagine himself doing anything else with his life.
He would begin his own acting career by taking on multiple roles with the National Shakespeare Company and the New York Shakespeare Festival.
Gregory Sierra’s role as Julio Fuentes was his breakout role on television, and Sanford and Son served as an excellent start to his career.
Shortly after appearing in the show, he would be cast as Sergeant Chano Amenguale on the cop show Barney Miller.
He also later starred in shows such as Zorro and Son, The X-Files, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and most recently The Other Side of the Wind.
Only a couple of years after his acting career had ended, Gregory Sierra lost his battle with stomach and liver cancer on January 4th of 2021.