Meeting George Jefferson

The summer that I worked for Congressman Charlie Stenholm in Washington, D.C., I got to meet some famous people. 

One day Congressman Stenholm took another intern and me to lunch in the Representatives’ private dining hall at the Capitol. 

We were standing around waiting for an elevator to take us up to the dining room and the lobby was packed with tourists, legislative aides, important people, and interns wandering around trying to look important. 

I looked over and saw a man who’s not very tall in a purple suit.  A very purple suit with wide lapels, a bright yellow shirt and a paisley tie.  

You couldn’t miss him.

Sherman Hemsley & Isabel Sanford played George & “Weezy” on The Jeffersons, one of my favorite television sit-coms from the ’70s

But when I looked closer I realized it was George Jefferson.

 You know, George Jefferson from the TV sit-com, The Jeffersons, from the seventies.  The show that spun off of All In the Family, with George being  the African-American equivalent of Archie Bunker. 

Then I started racking my brain to remember his real name. 

Sherman something….Helmsley, Henley, something like that.  Oh well, I’ll just mumble it but that’ll be better than going over to him and saying, in my finest Texas drawl –

“Hey, you’re that George Jefferson guy on TV, ain’t ya? 

Boy, you shore are funny, and that walk you do, boy, we shore do like yore show.” 

At least I didn’t say that.

But I wasn’t much better. 

I went over and shook hands with him and he was extremely friendly.  He told me he was there as a lobbyist to have lunch with a congressman, so we waited for an elevator together. 

We ended up riding the same one, jammed full of people, and we stood right next to each other. 

I tried to play it cool, as though I wasn’t standing right next to a character I’d watched on television as a teenager.   But in that moment, as the elevator started to move I didn’t care what any of those congressmen surrounding us thought. 

I couldn’t resist any longer. 

Here’s the whole cast from The Jeffersons – click on the photo to hear the theme song from the show.                            “Well, we’re movin’ on up!”


I looked over at Mr. Hemsley, gently elbowed him, and said,

“Well, we’re movin’ on up.” 

He chuckled,  “Yeah, we are.” 

Bet the poor man couldn’t get on an elevator anywhere without some cornball saying that.

But if you don’t want people recognizing you, you shouldn’t wear purple suits.



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