I’ve never been anywhere near a junkyard in my life, never lived in (or even been near) Watts, never known anyone named Lamont, and never tasted ripple. Matter of fact, I don’t know what ripple (or it’s distant cousin, champipple) even is. However, “Sanford & Son”, the show that introduced me to all these concepts, remains a favorite of mine three decades after I first started watching it (via rerun).
Black characters in main roles on TV was still a very novel concept-I don’t know that there was an all-black sitcom on television at all prior to “Sanford” (which premiered in 1972). So if it wasn’t for Redd Foxx and Norman Lear, there may not have been a “Jeffersons” and a “Good Times”, much less a “Cosby Show”.
By now, you all know the principals. Foxx starred as Fred G. Sanford (the “G” stood for whatever Fred said it stood for at that moment), Demond Wilson played Fred’s long-suffering son Lamont, and the two owned a junkyard in the L.A. ghetto. For most of the series’ run, the show also featured supporting characters Grady (played by Whitman Mayo) and Aunt Esther (played by LaWanda Page). From Grady’s shouts of “great goobily goop” to the never-ending run of Esther-related ugly jokes (and Esther’s retorts of “heathen” and “fish-eyed fool”), and “Elizabeth!”, the show was non-stop catch phrases, all of which were absolutely hilarious.
Additionally, “Sanford” had one of television’s all-time great theme songs. Thanks, Quincy Jones. This alone makes me forgive you for the awful “Soul Bossa Nostra” album.
“Sanford & Son” ran for six seasons and ranked in the Nielsen Top 10 for it’s first five seasons. It ended prematurely due to Redd Foxx’s contractual demands, but you can still catch episodes on cable to this day…including the episode where Fred’s friend Big Money Grip (I always wondered where that term came from) says that he is actually LaMont’s father.
Of course, we can’t let a post about “Sanford & Son” go by without this memorable clip from one of my other favorite TV shows.
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