I Met Sherman Hemsley One Time…
I used to work room service in a Holiday Inn Select. From time to time, celebrities would stay with us. Not because we were the Hard Rock but there’s a lot of money in Hunterdon County, NJ so once in a while someone famous with some ties to that money would visit. On this particular occasion, I delivered to the room, and a young light skinned black man opened the door. He motioned me into the room, I pushed my silly little cart inside, all set up with the Mozzarella and Balsamic Vinaigrette concoction that the room had ordered, and sitting on the bed (one bed), with his widdle legs dangling off the side was Sherman Hemsley. I didn’t feel like gushing as I couldn’t remember a single thing he had done between The Jeffersons and Old Navy ads, and I didn’t think he’d like to talk about his monkey co-stars (this was before the Old Navy Monkey ripped that lady’s face off).
There was no big exchange, he didn’t call me a honkey. He signed the check tipping me $4 on his $11 bill, which was on top of the 18% already added. All in all, he was a good shit, and I didn’t think of it again really until he died. Then I read one of my gay comedian friends questioning Sherman’s lifestyle. In Sherman’s defense gay comedians think EVERYONE is gay. George Washington, gay. Abraham Lincoln. gay. Julius Caesar, guy’s got a salad named after him, Gay Gay Gay.
In this case, however, it wouldn’t shock me. I’ve replayed that scene again and again in my head today, and I gotta say, I had always assumed the other guy was either a grandson or an assistant. Now I’m not so sure. I definitely understand why someone in his position would have to stay in the closet. You can’t be the TV epitome of the angry black man and be gay, especially with how both the regular and black communities of the time treated gays. It would have been career suicide (not that Old Navy wasn’t). Just something to think about. Either way, thanks for tipping over 50%, you’re the man, Sherm. Rest In Peace.