We continue our countdown of my favorite 1970s Christmas TV episodes with 1977’s “984 W. 124th Street, Apt. 5C” from The Jeffersons.
In general, I don’t think that The Jeffersons holds up as well as the other Lear sitcoms of the era, but man, when The Jefferson hit, it hit it WELL. In Season 3, they had a notable Christmas episode involved the Jeffersons’ son, Lionel (Damon Evans), getting married to his biracial fiance, Jenny (Berlinda Tolbert), but, well, that wasn’t all THAT Christmas-y, really.
The following season, though, was very Christmas-y, indeed, and it had a hell of a kick. Basically, through some incompetence on behalf of George’s worker, Leroy (Vernon Washington), Louise “Weezie” Jefferson (Isabel Sanford) discovers that her husband, George (Sherman Hemsley) has been sending money and presents to a mysterious address in Harlem (oddly enough, the show chose to use an address that is clearly not a real Harlem address).
Leroy’s incompetence with a present meant for the address leads to George taking it there himself. Louise follows him, and she discovers the truth – the address is the apartment where George grew up, and he vowed that if he ever made it, he would make sure that whoever lived there wouldn’t have to go through the garbage he did while living there.
While arguing in the hallway (before she learns the truth), they attract the attention of the residents of the apartment in the rundown building who, despite being poor, gladly welcome George and Louise into their home, which is where Louise learns the truth when George reveals that he grew up in this apartment, and the family mentions how they’ve been receiving money every month for the past few years (they had been so broke that they were down to just eating one meal a week…on Wednesdays).
Louise is shocked at George’s generosity, and he downplays it, but he explains that he felt that he owed a debt to those who came after him. It’s so well done. Rarely is Hemsley so understated. It’s a great episode.
It’s currently available on YouTube if you want to check it out…
Amusingly, the little boy in the apartment (who Weezie briefly assumes is George’s love child) is played by De’voreaux White, who later famously played Argyle in Die Hard, which was also set at Christmastime.