Did Redd Foxx try to look older in Sanford and Son

I haven’t seen many episodes of this, but looking into it I saw he was only 49 when the series started, and was 54 when it ended.

He looked to be 70 in the show, I always thought that was his real age. Did he ham it up and try to appear older or did he really age that badly?

For what it’s worth Lawanda Page, who played Esther, was 52 when the show started and Whitman Mayo, who played Grady, was only 42.

He was bald in real life, so the gray hair was a wig. (I don’t know about the facial hair.)

He was also a coke snorting chain smoker, so he was probably an old 49 to begin with.

I recall an episode where Fred Sanford met Redd Foxx. As Redd, he did look younger, but he was well dressed and without the grey hair and beard.

Wow, I guess the life of an impoverished junk yard dealer was really hard. I know the show quite well but didn’t realize he was that young when it was made. The timeline fits though. His son in the show, Lamont, was fairly young (late 20’s maybe) and his wife, Elizabeth, died very young. They probably had Lamont when they were in their early 20’s based on the setting of the show so it makes sense.

I don’t think Red Foxx made himself appear older just for the show although some of the gags like fake heart attacks and poor clothes certainly helped emphasize that he wasn’t young, healthy or wealthy. He already was a very well established comedian well before it ever started. I think he is just one of those people whose appearance and personality makes them seem much older than they really are. He was mostly that way in real life as well as far as I know.

Fred turns 65 in one of the first episodes, so he was 16 years older than Redd.

That is a funny episode and the key scenes are on Youtube if you want to see the comparison between good old Fred and Red Foxx (not much in terms of age perception IMHO).

You got any beer on tap? Bottled beer has too much gas. It makes me burp. I don’t like to burp. :slight_smile:

He had his own hair in the early seasons. The wig was in later seasons. Redd pissed off the studio when he shaved his head. I recall interviews where he said he wanted to look different from the character.

Wasn’t he sick of the show and just phoning it in towards the end? He quit and got replaced by Grady,

It’s complicated.

Sanford and Son was a high-rated show for its first five seasons. Its ratings dropped in its sixth season but it was still doing okay.

Then Redd Foxx got an offer to do a variety show on ABC and decided to take the offer. NBC wanted to continue Sanford and Son without Foxx. They originally planned on centering the show around Demond Wilson but he felt he should get a better contract if he was now the lead. The studio and Wilson couldn’t reach an agreement so Wilson also left the series.

So the studio retooled the show. They kept the supporting cast and brought in Theodore Wilson to play Phil Wheeler, a supposed old friend of Fred Sanford who bought his business. According to the show, Fred and Lamont had moved to Arizona. The new show, titled Sanford Arms got poor ratings and only lasted one season.

A year went by. Both Foxx’s variety show and the studio’s replacement show had been cancelled. So an agreement was reached and the show was brought back with Foxx again in the lead. Demond Wilson decided not to return so the revived series was titled Sanford. But the revived series didn’t do as well in the ratings as the original had and only lasted two seasons.

Whitman Mayo played Grady Wilson throughout all this. During the fourth season of Sanford and Son, he was given the lead in a spinoff series titled Grady. But he still occasionally appeared on the original show while his spinoff was on the air. And when Grady was cancelled after a single season, he went back to being a supporting character in the original series and he continued to play Grady in Sanford Arms and Sandford.

Know what Red Foxx’s real name was?


Yep. I think his first was George. AND he was from St. Louis just like the character.

What I’d like to know is what did everyone call him since technically he was “Mr. Sanford” on or off the set?

You’re close. His name was John Sanford. And his older brother, Fred, lent his name to Foxx’s Fred Sanford character.

And you know what Demond Wilson’s real name is? Grady Wilson.

And, when Lamont was about to get married in the first season (Alvin Childress, “Amos” from the tv series “Amos ‘n’ Andy” played the minister), Lamont’s full name was given as “Grady Lamont Sanford.”

In the last season, or maybe penultimate, though, Fred tells Lamont that “Lamont” was actually his middle name–and they never had gotten around to picking a first name.

Wow, Grady being younger than me has really blown my mind…same with Fred being just a few years older than me.

Now I don’t even know what to believe.
Walks off, in a contemplative stupor, unsure of how the world works

How does knowing that Aunt Esther was a stripper and a comedian at least as foul-mouthed as Foxx affect your equilibrium?

He had a contract dispute at one point during the show, missed some episodes, so they filmed them around Grady. I think the highest rated show happened then- Lamont’s friend Rollo visits and Grady makes him empty his pockets every few minutes to be sure Rollo isn’t stealing.

One routine that Foxx had on the show was to pretend he was having a heart attack. Tragically when Foxx actually suffered a fatal heart attack while filming "The Royal Family", many people on the set thought it was a gag.

That’s interesting because in one episode of S&S where they are doing a circus Esther does a fire act.