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Weezie on 'The Jeffersons,' Isabel Sanford, dead at 86

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Actress Isabel Sanford, best known as "Weezie" Louise Jefferson on the television sitcom "The Jeffersons," died of natural causes, her publicist said Monday. She was 86.

Sanford died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized since July 4, said Brad Lemack. Her daughter, Pamela Ruff, was at her side, he said.

Her health had waned after undergoing preventive surgery on a neck artery 10 months ago, Lemack said. He did not give a cause of death.

Sanford co-starred with Sherman Hemsley from 1975 to 1985 on CBS' "The Jeffersons," a spin-off of the popular series "All in the Family," in which she also appeared.

In 1981, Sanford became the first black woman to receive an Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on "The Jeffersons."

"Isabel was our queen and that's what we called her on the show," said Marla Gibbs, who played the Jeffersons' maid Florence Johnston.

Gibbs said that even before the hit sitcom, Sanford's comedic talents were evident during acting auditions.

"Isabel would come in and just light up the room and start telling stories and having everybody in stitches," Gibbs said.

Recently, Sanford lent her voice to "The Simpsons" and appeared in commercial campaigns for Denny's restaurants and retailer Old Navy.

Besides her daughter, Sanford is survived by two sons, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


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