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'The Jeffersons' Actor Mike Evans


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'The Jeffersons' Actor Mike Evans

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'The Jeffersons' Actor Mike Evans in his role

as Lionel Jefferson in December, 1979.

TWENTYNINE PALMS, California -- Actor Mike Evans, best known as Lionel Jefferson in the TV sitcoms, "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons," died on Thursday, December 14 of throat cancer at his mother's home in Twentynine Palms, said his niece, Chrystal Evans. He was 57.

Michael Jonas Evans was born November 3, 1949, in Salisbury, North Carolina. His father, Theodore Evans Sr., was a dentist while his mother, Annie Sue Evans, was a school teacher. The family moved to Los Angeles when Evans was a child. He graduated from Los Angeles High School and studied acting at Los Angeles City College.

Evans, along with Eric Monte, also created and wrote for "Good Times," one of the first TV sitcoms that featured a primarily African-American cast, before getting the role of Lionel Jefferson in Norman Lear's iconic 1970s situation comedy, "All in the Family." Evans kept the role of Lionel when "The Jeffersons" launched in 1975.

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'The Jeffersons' cast featured (L-R) Sherman Helmsley,

Isabel Sanford and Mike Evans

"The Jeffersons" was a hit spinoff series featuring bigoted Archie Bunker's African-American neighbors in Queens who "move on up to the East Side" of Manhattan. Evans was replaced by Damon Evans (no relation) for four years, then he returned to the series from 1979 to 1981.

Evans also acted in the popular 1976 TV miniseries, "Rich Man, Poor Man" and made guest appearances on the TV series, "Love, American Style" as well as "The Streets of San Francisco." His other credits include "Killer by Night," "Call Her Mom" and "Now You See Him, Now You Don't," all from 1972.

Evans also had roles in 1973's "The Voyage of the Yes" and 1974's "The House on Skull Mountain." In 1976, Evans made a guest appearance on "The Practice." His last role was in a 2000 episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger." In recent years he had invested in real estate in Southern California.

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