Grady Demond Wilson (born October 13, 1946) is an American actor, author, and pastor. He played the role of Lamont Sanford, the son of Fred Sanford (played by Redd Foxx) in the 1970s NBC sitcom Sanford and Son.
Grady Demond Wilson
October 13, 1946
|Occupation||Actor, Producer, Author, Pastor|
|Spouse(s)||Cicely Johnston (3 May 1974–present)|
Early life and careerEdit
Wilson was born in Valdosta, Georgia, in 1946, and grew up in New York City, where he studied tap dance and ballet. He made his Broadway debut at 4 and danced at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater at 12. Raised as a Catholic, Wilson was an altar boy and spent summers with a Pentecostal grandmother in Georgia. He considered the priesthood, but took up acting, instead. At the age of 13, Wilson's appendix ruptured, almost killing him. At that time, the young Wilson vowed to somehow serve God as an adult in some ministry capacity. Wilson served in the United States Army from 1966 to 1968 and was in the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam, where he was wounded. Upon returning home as a decorated veteran in the late 1960s, Wilson was featured in several Broadway and off-Broadway stage productions before moving to Hollywood, where he performed guest roles on several television series such as Mission: Impossible and All in the Family and acted in films such as The Organization (1971) and Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues (1972).
Sanford and Son (1972–1977) and other acting projectsEdit
Later in 1971, after appearing as a robber on All in the Family with Cleavon Little, Wilson won the role of Lamont Sanford in the NBC sitcom Sanford and Son. Johnny Brown was considered for that role, but because of his commitment to Laugh-In, Wilson got the role instead. Brown later became well known as Nathan Bookman on Good Times. Wilson played Lamont through the run of the series, and became the star when Redd Foxx walked off the show in 1974 over a salary dispute with the producers and his character was written out for the rest of the season. Foxx returned the following year, and the pair worked together until 1977 when the show was cancelled despite being still very popular. In 1980–1981, Foxx attempted to revive the show with the short-lived sitcom Sanford, but Wilson refused to reprise his role as Lamont Sanford for the new series. In many interviews, the two had wonderful on- and off-screen chemistry together, through the years of Sanford and Son.
When asked in 2014, if he kept in touch with everybody from Sanford & Son, especially Foxx (who died on October 11, 1991), he responded: "No. I saw Redd Foxx once before he died, circa 1983, and I never saw him again. At the time I was playing tennis at the Malibu Racquet Club and I was approached by some producers about doing a Redd Foxx 50th Anniversary Special. I hadn’t spoken to him since 1977, and I called the club where (Redd) was playing. And we met at Redd’s office, but he was less than affable. I told those guys it was a bad idea. I never had a cross word with him. People say I’m protective of Redd Foxx in my book (Second Banana, Wilson’s memoir of the Sanford years). I had no animosity toward Foxx for (quitting the show in 1977) because I had a million dollar contract at CBS to do Baby... I'm Back!. My hurt was that he didn’t come to me about throwing the towel in - I found out in the hallway at NBC from a newscaster. I forgave him and I loved Redd, but I never forgot that. The love was there. You can watch any episode and see that."
Baby... I'm Back! (1978), and The New Odd Couple (1982–83)Edit
Wilson later starred as Raymond Ellis in the short-lived CBS comedy series Baby... I'm Back! and as Oscar Madison, opposite actor Ron Glass (who co-starred as Felix Unger) in the ABC sitcom The New Odd Couple, a revamped black version of the original 1970–75 series on the same network which starred Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.
Wilson lived in Conroe, Texas for many years until 1984, when he became an ordained minister, fulfilling his childhood vow. Later, in 1995, he founded Restoration House, a center that helps rehabilitate former prison inmates by providing mentoring, spiritual guidance, and vocational training.
Author of Christian booksEdit
Wilson has written several Christian books concerning the New Age Movement and its hidden dangers to society. New Age Millennium was released by CAP Publishing & Literary Co. LLC on December 1, 1998. (Demond's first name is misspelled "Desmond" on some book selling websites.) Wilson, who has also authored numerous children's books, stated the book to be an "exposé" of certain New Age "symbols and slogans".
Second Banana: book about Sanford & Son TV showEdit
Wilson also has written the book Second Banana: The Bittersweet Memoirs of the Sanford & Son Years, which was released on August 31, 2009. According to an interview on the CelebrityCafe.com website, Wilson said: "It's just a documented truth, behind the scenes factual account of what happened during those years. Redd (Foxx) and I were making history back in those days. We were the first blacks to be on television in that capacity and we opened the door for all those other shows that came after us."
Recent TV and film appearances and projectsEdit
Wilson has also made numerous guest appearances on the Praise The Lord program aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and is a good friend of Clifton Davis. He also appeared as a guest star on the UPN sitcom Girlfriends, playing Lynn's biological father.
In summer of 2011 Wilson started appearing with actress Nina Nicole in a touring production of the play The Measure of a Man by playwright Matt Hardwick. The play is described as "a faith-based production" and is set in a small town in south Georgia.
Faith Ties film projectEdit
Wilson has been working since 2010 to produce and act in a melodramatic family film based on the play Faith Ties. Says Wilson of the project: "I play a broken down old drunk whose wife and daughter are killed and he's given up on life. The protagonist is a pastor who is in the middle while he watches the lives of people crumbling around him."
|1971||The Organization||Charlie Blossom|
|1972||Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues||Rupert|
|1981||Full Moon High||Cabbie-Busdriver|
|1993||Me and the Kid||Agent Schamper|
|1971||All in the Family||Horace||Episode: "Edith Writes a Song"|
|1971||Mission: Impossible||Simmons||Episode: "Underwater"|
|1972–77||Sanford and Son||Lamont Sanford||Main role (135 episodes)|
|1978||Baby, I'm Back||Raymond Ellis||Main role (13 episodes)|
|1979||The Love Boat||Bart||Episode: "Letter to Babycakes"|
|1981||The Love Boat||Jesse (Isaac's Uncle)||Episode: "Black Sheep"|
|1982–83||The New Odd Couple||Oscar Madison||Main role (18 episodes)|
|2004–05||Girlfriends||Kenneth Miles||Recurring role (4 episodes)|
- Moses, Gavin (April 15, 1985). "Sanford's Son, Demond Wilson, Leaves His Demons Behind to Become a Full-Time Evangelist". People. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Todd, Dana (April 20, 1985). "Demond Wilson gives up Hollywood for preaching". Star-News. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
- Demond Wilson reference listed at Trivia Tribute website
- Demond Wilson bio at Celebrity Nooz.com Archived August 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Robinson, Louie (July 1972). "Sanford and Son: Redd Foxx, Demond Wilson wake up TV's jaded audience". Ebony. XXVII (9): 52–58.
- "Q&A With Demond Wilson". BeachcomberDestin.com. January 15, 2014. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- Demond Wilson / Second Banana: Bittersweet Memories of Sanford & Son Years official website
- Demond Wilson interview at Celebrity Cafe Archived September 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "The Measure of a Man homepage". Retrieved July 16, 2011.
- The Measure of a Man Stage Play official website Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- "Faith Ties". Christian Film Database. Retrieved November 16, 2012.