Sanford and Son

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Template:Infobox television

Sanford and Son is a television sitcom, the American remake of the British sitcom Steptoe and Son. Sanford and Son first aired on the NBC television network on January 14, 1972, and was broadcast for six seasons until the final original episode aired in March 1977 (repeat episodes were broadcast until September of that year).

Sanford and Son starred Redd Foxx as Watts junk dealer Fred G. Sanford. Demond Wilson also starred as his son Lamont, a 28-year-old (when the series began) who still lived at home. Although Fred loved Lamont, he thought that he'd never amount to anything, often called him "dummy", and frequently threatened to give him "one across the lips".

Redd Foxx was the genius of the show, playing Sanford as a sarcastic, stubborn, and argumentative antiques and junk dealer whose frequent money-making schemes routinely backfired and created more troubles. Upon the show's premiere in 1972, newspaper ads touted Foxx as NBC's answer to Archie Bunker.

Fred G. Sanford was a widower; his wife Elizabeth had died some two decades before. Fred had raised Lamont alone and missed Elizabeth deeply.

Sanford and Son was enormously popular during most of its run, and was one of the top ten highest-rated series on American television from its first season (1971-72) through the 1975-76 season. The show peaked at #2 in the Nielsen ratings during the 1972-73 season, when the series was second only to All in the Family in terms of ratings.


Other characters

Showing up in many episodes was Lamont's Aunt Esther (played by LaWanda Page). One of her trademarks was that she was a devout Baptist, and exhibited behaviors Fred saw as "Bible-thumping". Fred criticized Esther frequently for many reasons, ranging from her incessant talk about the Bible to constant comparisons to Godzilla. Her reaction, invariably, was to tell Fred to "Watch it, sucka." Sometimes, she would go berserk and try to hit him with her purse, or call him, "fish-eyed fool" and "heathen".

Fred's friends Bubba Bexley (Don Bexley) and Grady Wilson (Whitman Mayo) showed up regularly, as did Lamont's shady friend Rollo Lawson (Nathaniel Taylor). Lynn Hamilton was shown infrequently as Fred's nurse girlfriend Donna Harris. Julio Fuentez, Lamont's friend, also showed up from time to time, whom Fred made ethnic jokes about. A pair of police officers, one white and one black (Swanny and Smitty, played by Noam Pitlik and Hal Williams), also were perennial visitors.

Later years of the series

Missing image
Demond Wilson as Lamont Sanford.
Missing image
Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford.

In 1975, Redd Foxx walked off the show in a salary dispute midway through the season and his character was written out of the series for the rest of the season, though Foxx later returned.

After the series was canceled in 1977 (due to ABC giving Foxx a big raise to do a variety show and NBC refusing to give Wilson a raise), a short-lived continuation featuring supporting characters entitled Sanford Arms aired. Whitman Mayo starred in a spinoff series, Grady, during the 1975-76 season.


In 1980-81, Redd Foxx attempted to revive his old hit with the short-lived Sanford (so named because Demond Wilson declined to reprise the role of Lamont for the new series).

Some of Fred Sanford's quotes

  • "You big dummy!"
  • "How would you like one across your lip?"
  • "Ohhh...this is the big one. Hear that. Elizabeth? I'm comin' to join you honey!"

"I'm comin', 'Lizabeth"

When Fred Sanford was not getting his way, he would often clutch his chest and fake a heart attack by saying words to the effect of "Oooh, this is the big one! I'm comin', 'Lizabeth!" as a sympathy ploy. (Elizabeth was his late wife). Fred often would resort to this tactic when Lamont announced plans to leave for a better profession. Lamont had long since been wise to this tactic, but always wound up staying or giving into his father's wishes.

When he was rehearsing a scene on his 1991 series, The Royal Family, Foxx began complaining of chest pains. His co-stars at first believed that he was reprising this old "heart attack" routine when, in fact, he was truly having a heart attack, from which he died.


The theme song of Sanford and Son became a topic in the pilot episode of Malcolm & Eddie. Tow truck driver Eddie Sherman (Eddie Griffin) ponders what Sanford's theme song would've sounded like if it had lyrics to it. A very memorable verse begins:

Fred Sanford
Fred Sanford had a son and a truck
And a son named Lamont...

In addition, Eddie comes up with another verse, which includes the phrase "Shady Grady."

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