Best known for his Emmy Award-nominated role as the irascible George Jefferson in both "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons", the multi-talented Hemsley also starred as Deacon Frye in the hit series "Amen" from 1986-1991 and provided the voice of Richfield in "Dinosaurs" from 1991- 1994.
Hemsley first became interested in acting with performances in elementary school plays. After a stint in the service, he attended Philadelphia Academy of Dramatic Arts to perfect his craft. He worked as postal clerk by day and actor by night. As a member of the Society Hill Playhouse, his performance in the stage play "The Blacks" prompted a noted Philadelphia director to encourage Hemsley to pursue work in the New York theater.
Always practical and to insure he would not starve, Hemsley arranged a transfer to the New York Postal Service prior to his move. He became part of the famed Negro Ensemble Company and took private acting lessons from Lloyd Richards which led to a spot in Vignette Carrols Urban Arts Group.
In 1968, he made his Off-Broadway debut in "The People Vs. the Ranchman" and his Broadway debut in "Purlie Victorious" followed. When Purlie closed Hemsley joined the touring production of "Dont Bother Me, I Cant Cope." It was during the San Francisco run that Hemsley was spotted by producer Norman Lear and asked to play the role of George Jefferson. The rest, as they say, is history!
Since "Amen", Hemsley became part of the cast of "Goode Behavior", playing an estranged ex con father struggling to make peace with his straight-laced college dean son.
Hemsley, continues to appear in a variety of television shows, including Family Matters, Sister Sister, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, In The House, Clueless and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In recent years, he has starred on stage in productions of "Norman Is That You?" "Im Not Rappaport," and "The Jeffersons -The Stage Play," with the original cast. Hemsley was also nominated for a 1995 Cable Ace Award for his work in the spoof of the film "Dumb and Dumber" at the MTV Movie Awards.