|Born||Grady Demond Wilson
October 13, 1946
Valdosta, Georgia, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, Producer, Author, Pastor|
|Spouse(s)||Cicely Johnston (1972-present) or (1974–present) (sources differ)|
- 1 Early life and career
- 2 Ministerial work
- 3 Recent TV and film appearances and projects
- 4 Personal life
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Early life and career
Wilson was born in Valdosta, Georgia 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 Dealing (1970) and The Organization (1971).
Sanford and Son (1971–1977) and other acting projects
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. 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 canceled 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.
Baby, I'm Back (1978), and The New Odd Couple (1982)
Wilson later starred as divorcé Raymond Ellis in the short-lived CBS-TV comedy series Baby, I'm Back and as Oscar Madison, opposite actor Ron Glass (who co-starred as Felix Unger) in the ABC TV 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 books
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 show
Wilson has also authored 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 projects
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 has also appeared as a guest star on the UPN sitcom Girlfriends, playing Lynn's biological father. Wilson was a guest on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor on January 30, 2009.
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 project
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. His only friend is a talking scorpion named Adonis. The protagonist is a pastor who is in the middle while he watches the lives of people crumbling around him."
- Moses, Gavin (15 April 1985). "Sanford's Son, Demond Wilson, Leaves His Demons Behind to Become a Full-Time Evangelist". People. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- Brown, Doug (13 October 1986). "'Sanford and Son' to Evangelist : Ex-TV Star Demond Wilson Turns to Religious Calling". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- "Q&A: Wilson's life after 'Sanford & Son'". Tampa Bay Times. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- Todd, Dana (20 April 1985). "Demond Wilson gives up Hollywood for preaching". Star-News. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Demond Wilson reference listed at Trivia Tribute website
- Demond Wilson bio at Celebrity Nooz.com
- Robinson, Louie (July 1972). "Sanford and Son: Redd Foxx, Demond Wilson wake up TV's jaded audience". Ebony. XXVII (9): 52–58.
- Demond Wilson / 2nd Banana: Bittersweet Memories of Sanford & Son Years official website
- Demond Wilson interview at Celebrity Cafe
- "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.