George reluctantly introduces Mother Jefferson to Archie, who managed to offend her by referring to her as his "Mammy" in the AITF episode "Lionel's Engagement" in Season 5.
|Nickname||Mama, as called by George|
|George Jefferson's disparaging, meddlesome mother|
oftentimes serves as antagonist to Louise, while sweet to others; loves Bloody Marys!
|Spouse(s):||William Jefferson (late husband, George's father)|
|Related to:||George Jefferson (son)|
Louise Jefferson (daughter in-law)
Lionel Jefferson (grandson)
Jenny Willis-Jefferson (granddaughter in-law)
|Appeared on:||All in the Family|
|Episodes appeared in:||appears in the episodes "Lionel's Engagement" and "The Jeffersons Move Up" in season 5|
|Character played by:||Zara Cully|
Mother Jefferson is the mother of George Jefferson and the mother in-law of Louise Jefferson, and the grandmother of Lionel Jefferson on The Jeffersons. She made her first appearance on All in the Family, appearing in the fifth season (1974-75) episodes titled "Lionel's Engagement" and "The Jeffersons Move Up", which would serve as the pilot for The Jeffersons series. Her character, would be spun-off into The Jeffersons spinoff in January that same season. On the show, Mother Jefferson is played by veteran character actress/black vaudeville performer Zara Cully.
About Mother Jefferson
Mother Jefferson's first appearance was in the All in the Family episode, "Lionel's Engagement", where she takes offense at being referred to as "mammy" by Archie Bunker, who thinks the term is a variation of "mommy" for only colored people, Mother Jefferson is a irritating, disparaging, and antagonistic mother-in-law to Louise, while appearing to be practically a sweet old lady to her grandson Lionel and everyone else. Mother Jefferson is one of the stereotypical mothers-in-laws who think their daughter-in-law isn't good enough for their son. In nearly every episode she was seen in, she is usually tormenting Louise by criticizing her cooking, her age, or her overall character, but Louise frequently came back at her with a witty albeit sarcastic response. (On a couple of rare occasions, however, Mother Jefferson sides with Louise, when she takes offense at George's boorish, racist, or sexist behavior.) A long-running gag had Mother Jefferson blissfully ignorant of how much alcohol she actually consumes, usually in the form of a Bloody Mary, which she stated she drank "for the vitamins."
Zara Cully, who played Mother Jefferson, had been absent from the first 17 episodes of Season Three, during the 1976-1977 season due to a serious case of pneumonia caused by a collapsed lung, which caused cancer in her lung. Upon recovering she returned for a few episodes, noticeably thinner and more frail. She tragically died too early in Season Four of lung cancer at the age of 86 on 28 February 1978 and the writers decided to write out and eliminate and then expel Mother Jefferson's character rather than replace her with a different actress. No special episode was created centering on her death but it was briefly referenced in the second episode of the Fifth Season in late 1978, "Homecoming (pt 1)".