Isabel Sanford (born August 29, 1917 – July 9, 2004) was an American stage, film and television actress best known for her role as Louise "Weezy" Mills-Jefferson on the CBS sitcoms All in the Family (1971–1975) and The Jeffersons (1975–1985). In 1981, she became the second black American actress to win a Primetime Emmy Award, and the first to win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Sanford was born Eloise Gwendolyn Sanford in Harlem, New York, to James Edward and Josephine Sanford (née Perry). She was the youngest of seven children and was the only child to survive beyond infancy. Sanford's mother Josephine was devoutly religious and insisted that her daughter attend church every Sunday and occasionally made her attend on weeknights. As a teenager, Sanford aspired to be an actress but her mother discouraged her dream as she felt that show business was "the road to degradation". Sanford disobeyed her mother and began performing at local clubs. She also performed at amateur night at the Apollo Theater. After graduating from high school, Sanford joined Harlem's American Negro Theater and the Star Players. She made her professional stage debut in 1946 in On Strivers Row and appeared in several off-Broadway productions while also working as a keypunch operator at IBM.
Sanford married house painter William Edward "Sonny" Richmond with whom she had three children. Their marriage was tumultuous and they later separated...
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