On ABC’s special Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons, there were a bunch of new faces breathing life into sitcom episodes of the past. Jamie Foxx put his own twist on Sherman Hemsley’s iconic strut as George Jefferson, while Wanda Sykes filled Isabel Sanford’s shoes as the inestimable Louise “Weezy” Jefferson. Kerry Washington and Will Ferrell brought elegance and goofiness to the Jeffersons’ neighbors Tom and Helen in equal measure.
But in the closing moments of this live variety experiment, there was one familiar face from The Jeffersons who made her return to the soundstage in a surprise appearance — Marla Gibbs. Gibbs portrayed the Jeffersons’ wisecracking maid Florence Johnston on 11 seasons of The Jeffersons. She also enjoyed a brief stint on her own spin-off Checking In, which only lasted four episodes.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience recreated two episodes from All in the Family and The Jeffersons, both of which share a natural link. From All in the Family, they selected the sixth episode of season 4, 1973’s “Henry’s Farewell.” The episode marked George Jefferson’s first appearance on the series, which then continued until The Jeffersons launched in 1975. To streamline this connection, they brought the pilot of The Jeffersons back to life.
In the episode’s final moments, Louise and George await the arrival of a woman interviewing to be their new maid. Another Norman Lear player Justina Machado (One Day at a Time) was originally announced to be recreating the role of Florence Johnston — but at the dress rehearsal on Tuesday, Machado was nowhere in sight. Louise opened the door for their maid, and in walked Gibbs to thunderous applause.
For the full story, visit EW.com/TV.
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