Sanford and Son – An American Classic

Sanford and Son
About the show

From the hilarious one-liners of Fred Sanford to the straight-laced Aunt Esther’s rantings, Sanford and Son produced some of the funniest situations in television history! Several generations still watch the show daily on a few different retro TV channels, making it a popular show to this day.

. Let’s face it, today we can’t all agree on much but Sanford and Son bridges the gap and keeps us all laughing no matter what our beliefs are!

Be sure to add your comments in the “Leave a Reply” section at the bottom of this page

The Origin

The creators of Sandford and Son took the idea from a British TV comedy called “Steptoe and Son” which aired on the BBC television network from 1962 to 1965.

The characters were similar but the show contained dry British humor not suitable for American audiences.

In 1972, Norman Lear adapted the show as NBC’s attempt to compete with CBS’s “All in the Family”. Steptoe and Son officially credited the idea. You can see this in the rolling credits at the end of each show.

Father and Son

The main character Fred Sanford lost his wife Elizabeth in 1950 and raised his son Lamont on his own. Later, father and son would team up to run a struggling salvage business called Sanford and Son in the poor Watts section of Los Angeles. They primarily comprise their store, which also doubles as their home, with useless junk.

. Occasionally Lamont would find things that had some worth, such as a coffin. That coffin would nearly give Fred a heart attack because he felt it was bad luck and didn’t want it in the house.

Video: Sanford and Son Opening Theme Song

Heart Attacks

Fred Sanford fakes heart attacks and is well known for it.

He would frequently scream, “This is the big one, Elizabeth! I’m coming to join ya, honey,” In a sad and ironic twist, while filming the sitcom “The Royal Family” in 1991 with longtime friend Della Reese, Redd suffered a massive heart attack. At first, the cast and crew believed that he was reprising his gag from Sanford and Son but he did in fact die from heart failure

fred sanford gif
The Characters

There is no doubt that Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson put in magnificent performances as Fred and Lamont Sanford but some of the other cast members were equally entertaining. Aunt Esther with her stinging criticism and wit, Grady Wilson with his goofy ramblings, Bubba with his endearing loyalty to Fred …and the list goes on. See a full list of the cast below


Why did Sanford and Son get canceled? Although the show was still enormously popular in it’s last year, the ratings were not high enough to justify bringing it back another season. Other shows, such as police dramas like “The Rockford Files” were very popular and had excellent ratings. In 1977, Sanford and Son was officially canceled.

Sandford and Son gifts

The Spinoffs

In a short lived show called “Sanford Arms”, they reprized the role of Fred Sanford with Fred running a boarding house next door. However, they offered the role of Lamont to Demond Wilson, who refused due to salary demands.

Overall, the show was a dud. Another short-lived spinoff called “Grady” starring the original actor in the Grady role, Whitman May, also proved to be a flop. Redd Foxx approached Demond Wilson about reviving the old magic in 1980 with a show called “Sanford” but Demond refused.

Sandford and Son gifts
Sanford and Son Cast

Redd Foxx – Fred G. Sanford
Demond Wilson – Lamont Sanford
LaWanda Page – Aunt Esther Anderson
Don Bexley – Bubba Bexley
Whitman Mayo – Grady Wilson
Nathaniel Taylor – Rollo Larson
Lynn Hamilton – Donna Harris
Hal Williams – Officer Smitty Smith
Howard Platt – Officer Hoppy Hopkins
Gregory Sierra – Julio Fuentes
Raymond Allen – Uncle Woodrow Woody Anderson
Pat Morita – Ah Chew
Noam Pitlik – Officer Swanny Swanhauser
Marlene Clark – Janet Lawson
Slappy White – Melvin
Nancy Kulp – May Hopkins
Arnold Johnson – Hutch

Sanford and Son shirt
Sanford and Son Fun Facts
  • The opening theme song to the show was written by the legendary producer/musician Quincy Jones. The name of the song is “The Streetbeater”
  • Fred Sanford was born and raised in St Louis, MO
  • Aunt Esther is Fred’s sister-in-law
  • Sanford and Son’s popularity was enough to drive “The Brady Bunch” off the air in 1975
  • During the 1973-1974 season, Redd Foxx walked off the set over a salary dispute. His character was written out of the show for 6 episodes. The story-line explained that Fred was in St Louis attending a funeral. His longtime friend Grady Wilson filled in at the Junkyard while also taking care of Lamont
  • At it’s peak, Sanford and Son made it to #2 in the Neilson Ratings. “All in the Family” remained at #1
  • In 1977, rival network ABC offered Redd Foxx an undisclosed large sum of money to host “The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour”.
  • The Sanford and Son truck is a classic Ford F1. In the 70s, people considered it a hunk of junk, but today it has become a sought-after collector’s vehicle.
Sanford and Son shirt

Redd Foxx

Redd Foxx was an American comedian and actor who was best known for his role as Fred Sanford in the television sitcom Sanford and Son. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1922 and began his career as a stand-up comedian in the 1940s. He was known for his raunchy and often controversial comedy routines.

Foxx moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s and began appearing in television and film roles. He had a recurring role on the television series The Redd Foxx Show and appeared in films such as Cotton Comes to Harlem and Harlem Nights.

Sanford and Son shirt

In 1972, Foxx was cast as Fred Sanford in the television sitcom Sanford and Son. The show was a huge success and ran for six seasons. Foxx won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series for his role in the show.

Foxx continued to appear in television and film roles throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He had a recurring role on the television series The Royal Family and appeared in films such as The Toy and The Meteor Man.

3 responses to “Sanford and Son – An American Classic”

  1. […] her husband Desi Arnaz, instead of Denning. It was a hard sell but Lucy pulled it off and the show was on it’s way. I Love Lucy began production in […]

  2. Mark Akers Avatar
    Mark Akers

    Glad I have the entire series on DVD. Seen them all countless times and I still love watching it and laughing like a madman! Best show ever IMHO!

  3. Tim Beeker Avatar
    Tim Beeker

    I will never, EVER, forget the scene about Gorilla cookies with aunt Esther and Fred.

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