Sanford and Son

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Sanford and Son
Image:Sanfordandsontitlecard.jpg
From the Sanford and Son opening credits: the sign above the Sanfords' home and workplace

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Genre Sitcom
Running time approx. 30 minutes (per episode)
Creator(s) Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, based on Steptoe and Son created by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Executive producer(s) Norman Lear
Bud Yorkin
Starring Redd Foxx
Demond Wilson
Opening theme Quincy Jones
Country of origin Image:Flag of the United States.svg United States
Original channel NBC
Original run January 14, 1972September 2, 1977
No. of episodes 135
IMDb profile

Sanford and Son is an American television sitcom, the U.S. 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 on March 25, 1977 (repeat episodes were broadcast until September 2, 1977).

Reruns were aired on NBC's daytime schedule from June 14, 1976 to July 21, 1978.

Contents

[edit] Background

Sanford and Son starred Redd Foxx as Watts, Los Angeles, California, junk dealer Fred G. Sanford. Demond Wilson also starred as his son Lamont, a 31-year-old (when the series began) who still lived at home. Although Fred loved Lamont, he often called him "dummy", and frequently threatened to give him "five across the lips".

Redd Foxx, whose real name was John Sanford (with a brother named Fred), was arguably 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. Lamont dearly would like to live an independent life, but loves his father too much to see him left to his own devices and schemes. Although they each had an equal share in the business and technically Fred was the boss, Lamont often found himself running the business. He even had to go as far as ordering his father on tasks and duties needing to be done. 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. According to Fred, Lamont was named for Lamont Lomax, a (presumably fictional) pitcher from the Homestead Grays. However, at another time, Fred mentioned that "Lamont" is French for "failure." Fred was also known for his disrespect of women, most notably his sister-in-law Esther, who had disapproved of Fred marrying her sister. He would often contort his face upon Esther's entrance and make disparaging remarks to her, comparing her to King Kong, Godzilla, and using colorful metaphors to describe her spectacular ugliness.

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. Sanford and Son put enough of a dent into the middling audience of The Brady Bunch to drive it off the air in 1974. Sanford and Son 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.

It was produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, the team responsible for All in the Family. The two shows had a few things in common. They were both based on popular British sitcoms, and both were pioneers of edgy, racial humor that reflected the changing politics of the time, and both series featured outspoken, working class protagonists with overt prejudices. Sanford and Son helped to redefine the genre of black situation comedy.

[edit] Other characters

  • Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page), is the bible-toting sister of Fred's late wife Elizabeth. Esther is a staunchly religious Baptist who finds little use for humor. Fred has an intense dislike for Esther, which she gladly returns. His trademark response to her entrance is to make an exaggerated grimace due to (in his eyes) her profound ugliness. He would then spew forth colorful insults and liken her to animals and ficticious monsters such as King Kong and Godzilla. Her usual reaction to his antics is to cringe her face and yell, "Watch it, Sucka." Sometimes, cracking from the constant barrage of insults, she would swing her purse wildly in Fred's direction whilst angrily calling him a "fish-eyed fool" or "heathen". Her long-suffering but loving alcoholic husband Woodrow began appearing infrequently later in the series. Woodrow eventually 'dried out' so he and Esther could adopt a young black orphan.
  • Grady Wilson (Whitman Mayo) is Fred's closest friend who appears regularly on the show. Grady's motto is "Goodgooblygoop" and is uttered by him when something good would happen or he was in a pleasant mood. Grady was Fred's 'sidekick' and would often be involved in 'get rich quick' schemes concocted by Fred. When Foxx had a contract dispute with (and walked out on) the show, several episodes were filmed without him. These episodes involved Grady as the central character who was watching over the business and Lamont whilst Fred was 'away' on vacation in St. Louis.
  • Bubba Bexley (Don Bexley) is another of Fred's friends. Bubba is known for his infectious belly-laugh and jovial persona. Bubba is primarily a 'straight man' to set up punchlines for Fred.
  • Rollo Lawson (Nathaniel Taylor) is Lamont's best friend. It is perceived that Rollo is a career criminal due to Fred's incessant remarks about Rollo's participation in criminal mischief (to wit Rollo doesn't deny). Rollo appears in the show every so often to come pick up Lamont so they could go out and chase women.
  • Donna Harris (Lynn Hamilton) is Fred's on again, off again girlfriend who later becomes his fiance'. She is employed as a practical nurse. Donna is an even-tempered lady who takes in stride Fred's shenanigans and occasional trysts.
  • Julio Fuentes (Gregory Sierra) is the Sanford's Puerto Rican next-door neighbor who befriends Lamont. When Julio and his family moved in next to the Sanfords, Fred took an immediate disliking to them and remarked, "There goes the neighborhood." Fred often made crude ethnic jokes about Julio and many times openly wished he would return to Puerto Rico.
  • Ah Chew (Pat Morita) is a Japanese-American friend of Lamont who Fred belittled every chance he gets. Fred insults Ah Chew on numerous occasion using cliche'd Oriental jokes. Fred actually befriends Ah Chew in a later episode because he wants to use him as a cook when he opens a Japanese restaurant in his (Fred's) house. Despite this arrangement, Fred still hurls verbal abuse at Ah Chew.
  • Smitty and Hoppy: A black (Officer "Smitty" Smith (Hal Williams)) and one white (Officer "Swanny" Swanhauser (Noam Pitlik), later replaced by Officer "Hoppy" Hopkins (Howard Platt)) would come by the Sanford house. Often, Swanny/Hoppy would incorrectly use slang, which Smitty would correct (e.g., "cold" instead of "cool" or "torn off" instead of "ripped off"). Or, conversely, the ever-professional Hoppy (or Swanny) would deliver a speech filled with jargon and big words, which would confound Fred and/or Lamont. Smitty would then step in and simplify it for them in a more "ghetto" manner. Officer Hoppy's prim and proper mother, May Hopkins (portrayed by Nancy Kulp), a former store detective, rented a room at the Sanford Arms next door. Landlord Fred would often insult her when she paid a visit.
  • In the fifth season, Lamont began dating a divorcee named Janet Lawson with a young son, Roger. The Lawsons appeared infrequently until Lamont and Janet broke up in the sixth and final season.
  • Fred also has friends by the names of Rooster, Leroy, and Skillet who would come over on occasion to play poker.

[edit] Later years of the series and 1980 revival

In the midst of taping episodes for the 1973-74 season, Redd Foxx walked off the show in a salary dispute due to a feud with NBC in which he demanded a salary that the network claimed it could not afford. His character was written out of the series for the rest of the season. The continuity of the show explained that Fred Sanford was away in St. Louis attending his cousin's funeral and leaving his friend Grady (Whitman Mayo) in charge of the business. NBC sued Foxx and as part of the settlement, Foxx later returned. In an extreme case of coincidence, less than ten episodes before Fred "left for St. Louis" to observe the death of his cousin, his uncle Leotus Sanford died... and he had to go to St. Louis.

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 The 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).

[edit] Fred Sanford's quotes and routines

  • "You big dummy!"
  • "How would you like five across your lips?"
  • "Are you CRAZY?"
  • "Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone."
  • "Sanford and Son is not a name, sir. Sanford and son is a tradition, it's a way of life, it's a dynasty, it's an empire. You look around here! The greatest pile of junk in the world!
  • "Fred G. Sanford and the G. stands for {whatever word Fred felt fit the situation}"
  • "This is Fred Sanford. That's S-A-N-F-O-R-D Period.
  • (waving his fist in the air) "..I've got 5 good reasons right here!"
  • "What empire!?! This empire!"
  • "And don't forget about my Arthur-itis" (Arthritis) (shows gnarled hand).
  • "Old man!?! who you callin' 'old man'?"
  • "You know son, It's been a lot of years. It's been a lot of years".
  • "I'm gonna get my bud-nipper and start nippin' some bud!"
  • "Buenos tacos." (to Julio's nephew)
Aunt Esther: "Who you calling ugly, sucka?"
Fred Sanford: "I'm calling you ugly, 'cause I could stick your face in some dough and make some gorilla cookies!"
Aunt Esther: "Who you calling ugly, sucka?"
Fred Sanford: "You. I could put some tracing paper over your head, and draw me a moose face!"
Aunt Esther: "My body was blessed by Mother Nature!"
Fred Sanford: "And it was cursed by Father Time!"
Aunt Esther: "Fred Sanford, the wrath of God will strike you down!"
Fred Sanford: "...And this Louisville Slugger will knock you out!"
Aunt Esther: "Fred Sanford, you are the lowest of the low, the meanest of the mean, and the baddest of the bad."
Fred Sanford: "And you are the ugliest of the ugly."
Fred Sanford: "Back to your cave, bat!"
Aunt Esther: "Watch it, sucka!"
Aunt Esther: "Fred Sanford, I want you to know that my name was in the Bible".
Fred Sanford: "Yeah, Samson slew the Philistines with your jaw-bone."
Lamont: "Pop, why don't you act your age instead of your shoe size."
Fred: "Son, if you don't stop talkin' to me like that, you'll feel my shoe size."
Julio: "Mr. Sanford! Buenos Dias, huh?"
Fred Sanford: "...And beans and disease to you, too!"
(action Fred performed)
Lamont: Would you STOP it!!
Doctor: "Mr. Sanford, Nick is cool."


Another often-used theme in the show was a drawer full of various reading glasses, where Fred would open the drawer and try on various glasses until he found a pair that would work. In one episode, one pair worked specifically with a marked deck of cards that Fred used to win back money that Lamont lost to a trio of card sharps; another pair made Bubba's face look "24 inches wide"; a third was used specifically for using the telephone; and a fourth were regular reading glasses, but they weren't very effective, as Fred would still have to hold the material a ways away from his face. This gag stopped after an episode in which Fred and Lamont were robbed. The robber took all of Fred's glasses, thus creating a continuity error, by which he could survive on only one or two pairs of glasses in later episodes, but needed a drawerful in earlier ones. An even larger continuity error cropped up when, at some point during the fourth season, Fred got his drawerful of glasses back!

Fred would also threaten various opponents with fisticuffs, yet he was apparently too busy 'windmilling' his fists in the air to ever actually land a punch. Grady was the only person to ever directly begin to fight Fred, and his fighting style consisted of punching one fist in front of him, and one fist behind him. Fred rarely threatened anyone with anything other than his fists. If the situation was particularly bad, he might get his Louisville Slugger baseball bat, and in one occasion when Esther became particularly annoying, he took up his gun (This is notable as being possibly the one time Esther ever got scared by Fred).

[edit] "I'm comin', Elizabeth"

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 "Oh, this is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth? I'm comin' to join ya, honey!" as a sympathy ploy. 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 (including Della Reese) 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 on October 11, 1991.

[edit] Sanford and Son on DVD

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released all six seasons of Sanford and Son on Region 1 DVD between August 2002 and June 2005. There are currently no plans to release the spin-off series Sanford Arms or Sanford, although this may occur in the future.

[edit] Controversy

Sanford and Son was a daring show for its time. Some of the original material is now considered too controversial to air on network television. The episode "Fred Sanford, Legal Eagle," written by Paul Mooney, largely considered one of the funniest episodes of the series by longtime fans, was edited before being aired on the cable network TV Land. In the unedited version Fred represents Lamont in traffic court as his legal counsel. At the climax of the episode, Fred confronts the white traffic cop who wrote Lamont the ticket. "Hey, look here," Fred asks the cop, "why don't you arrest any white people?" When the cop answers, "Well I do," Fred gestures to the court observers, who are all black, and asks, "Well where are they? Look at all the niggas in here!" Upon uttering this statement, the live studio audience went crazy with laughter and applause. Redd Foxx had to pause for the crowd to settle down before delivering the coup de grace: "There's enough niggas in here to make a Tarzan movie!" In the TV Land version of this episode, Fred's questioning of the cop abruptly ends after "Well where are they?", evidently because the network feared viewers would be offended. This creates a kind of continuity problem, as viewers are left wondering why the (black) judge is so angry at Fred for having created so much commotion in the courtroom.

When Fred returned from St. Louis, his family and friends held a party for him, and at Rollo's request for "cheers", Fred responded, "Yippy yippy, yay yay, look who got out of jail today!" When Rollo asked for cheers again, Fred said, "Bim bam boom, somebody get this nigga outta my room!"

In the episode "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe", the show dealt with an old friend called Grip returning to meet Fred and claiming he was Lamont's true father. When he first presented the news to Esther (who had previously enjoyed his company), she jumped up and yelled, "What did you say, nigga?" The laugh following this was long and loud. In syndication, the line is altered to "What did you say, sucka?"

In "Here Comes The Bride, There Goes The Bride", Fred also utters that the bride's family looks like a "bunch of jive niggas". It is not known whether or not this has been changed.

All the scenes were restored in the DVD releases.

[edit] Continuity Errors

The show has been frequently cited for continuity errors over its run. Among them are the following:

  • The fifth episode, "A Matter of Life and Breath", centered around Fred's smoking habit. Accordingly, he had been a two-pack-a-day smoker for fifty-five years up to that point. However, chest X-rays in the show showed nothing wrong with him (highly unlikely), but the biggest thing of note is Fred was never seen smoking in any of the four episodes prior to this one, nor ever again in the rest of the show's run (though Foxx was a smoker).
  • The drawer full of reading glasses as noted above.
  • An episode in the fourth season revolved around Sanford and Son's 35th year in business, but the business celebrated it's 40th year in an episode only two seasons later. The same episode featured a new window being given to Fred and promptly broken, but the old window was back in the next episode.
  • In one episode during Foxx's absence, the Sanfords already have a garden outside near their driveway, but a few seasons later, Fred and Lamont are seen establishing one for the first time.
  • In "Here Comes the Bride, There Goes the Bride", the third episode of the first season, Lamont's full name is given as "Lamont Grady Sanford", but at the end of the fourth-to-last episode of the show, "The Lucky Streak", it is revealed that Lamont was his middle name and has no first name (which, unfortunately, has nothing to do with the topic of the rest of the show).
  • Early episodes of the show have different family members and friends of Fred. There was Aunt Ethel (who was really a more softer-spoken, less religious version of Esther), Aunt Hazel (shown in only one episode, who was as loud as Esther, but with no signs of holy-rolling), and Melvin, a friend of Fred's who, after Bubba and Grady started appearing on the show, was nowhere to be found.
  • In the second season episode "Jealousy" Donna's patient, the man competing with Fred for Donna's affections, is named Osgood Wilcox. Later, in the season 3 episode "Members of the Wedding" Donna calls her patient Osgood Perkins.
  • In "Happy Birthday Pop", Fred claims to be getting $218 a month from Social Security, then finds out it's substantially less. However, in a later episode, it is revealed that Fred pulls down about $3000 a year in SS, which works out to about $250 a month.

[edit] Trivia

  • Fred Sanford's hair and beard are fake. In Season 5 episode "The Director," Fred "shaves" his hair and beard off. In Season 6 episode "TV Addict," Fred's hair is oddly very white, the only such instance that he wears this color.
  • Though Fred Sanford celebrated his 65th birthday in the second episode, in real life Redd Foxx was still in his forties when the series began.
  • Fred's favorite drink was cheap Ripple wine. He would often combine it with other drinks. Example: Cream + Ripple = Cripple, or Muscatel + Ripple = Muscatipple, or ginger ale + ripple = "champipple" (although the mixer wasn't really champagne). He called sangria "flapple" because he claimed it tasted like flat ripple. Grady introduced another "ripple-ism" in the fourth season opener: mint julep + Ripple = "mint jipple".
  • Fred's favorite song was "If I Didn't Care" by the Ink Spots. Redd Foxx also paid the royalties for use of the song, and others by them, because he loved the group so much and because NBC wouldn't pay for it themselves, claiming the cost was too high. Fred sang the song (to growing audience enthusiasm) through the show's run, especially whenever he got in front of a television camera. When Lamont ran for state assemblyman, Fred hijacked the debate when he realized that he was being filmed; another time, when someone else tried to do a rendition on The Gong Show, over-enunciating and ruining the feel of the song, Fred tried to gong him from the audience.
  • Fred's favorite television series was NBC's soap opera Days of our Lives, which was mentioned in many episodes. In one episode, Fred explained to an acquaintance that he watched the drama about little Mike Horton's paternity play out over several years.
  • 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" a popular nickname of Grady Wilson.

  • The theme of Sanford and Son, called "The Streetbeater," is written and performed by Quincy Jones, famous jazz musician and song writer. A long version is found on Quincy's Greatest Hits.
  • On the TV Show King of the Hill, exterminator Dale Gribble's favorite television program is Sanford and Son, and "The Streetbeater" is frequently heard.
  • One of Fred's nicknames on the show is "Ready Freddy," which could be a play on words between "Redd" and "Fred." His friends' nicknames include "Shady Grady" and "Lucky Leroy".
  • One episode had Fred go on The Gong Show, a famous 1970s game show.
  • Whitman Mayo's character "Grady Wilson" is actually named after actor Demond Wilson (Lamont Sanford). Demond Wilson's full name is "Grady Demond Wilson." Whitman died at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta (no relation).
  • There were actually two Gradys. The first was a tall, bald fellow who appeared as a one shot in ep. 207, "The Dowry". He was Fred's cousin and dearest childhood friend. The second, the shorter, greyer, and more stooped Grady best known to viewers, first appeared the following season ("This Little TV Went to Market", ep. 303).
  • Fred originally came from St. Louis, Missouri, which was the birthplace of series star Redd Foxx.
  • The character Fred Sanford was named after Redd Foxx's brother; Sanford is Foxx's real last name.
  • Redd Foxx played a dual role as himself and as Fred Sanford in Season 6 episode "Redd Meets Fred." There was a casting call for actors who looked like Foxx for a film project, and Fred decided to audition. Fred wins the competition. Although one of the prizes is a week-long stay with Foxx, the episode never mentions if Fred will hang out with Foxx for a week.
  • This was the only Norman Lear–produced sitcom that didn't air on CBS.
  • The series was recorded at NBC Studios in Burbank, California, and was the only Lear-produced program that was produced there.
  • Redd Foxx and LaWanda Page had been friends since childhood, and she was his first and last choice to play Fred's sister-in-law Esther.
  • In World of Warcraft, two orcs who run a salvage shop in Orgrimmar are based on Fred Sanford and his son Lamont, and are named Dran Droffers and Malton Droffers. Dran Droffers talks and acts like Fred Sanford, who runs a junk dealership similar to Fred's. Finally, "Dran Droffers" is an anagram of "Fred Sanford" and his son "Malton" of "Lamont".
  • The beer that Fred and Lamont Sanford drink has a logo similar to Budweiser.
  • The truck driven in the series is still functional (as of July 2006) and used by its owner, Donald Dimmitt of Dimmitts Auto Salvage, a real-life junk dealer in Marshall County, Indiana.[1]
  • In the Sierra On-Line game Quest for Glory III: Wages of War there are two junk dealers in the bazaar based upon Fred and Lamont. The character based upon Fred has a red fez and goes by the name An Forda, and refers to Lamont's character as his dummy son.
  • In The Simpsons' Spinoff Showcase Spectacular, actor Troy McClure says, "You might remember me from such TV spinoffs as Son of Sanford and Son and AfterMannix."
  • An occasional character on the show, Otis Littlejohn, was portrayed by Matthew "Stymie" Beard, who is best known for his long run as one of the kids in the Our Gang movies.
  • Episode 19 in season three was never filmed as that was when Fred left the show temporarily over contract disputes. The producers scrapped that episode entirely, and rewrote the rest of the episodes to revolve around Grady.
  • The television show Scrubs makes many references to Sanford and Son. Both JD and Turk admit to Sanford and Son being one of their favorite shows and the theme song can often be heard in the background of their apartment

[edit] External Links

Sanford and Son

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