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'Jeffersons' star Sherman Hemsley dies at 74
Sherman Hemsley, who played the brash George Jefferson on "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons," died Tuesday at 74.
July 24th, 2012
11:21 PM ET

'Jeffersons' star Sherman Hemsley dies at 74

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – Sherman Hemsley, who played the brash George Jefferson on "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons," died Tuesday at 74, his booking agent said.

Hemsley played Jefferson, a wisecracking owner of a dry cleaning business, on "All In the Family" from 1973 until 1975, when the spinoff "The Jeffersons" began an 11-season run on CBS.

Police in El Paso, Texas, where Hemsley lived, said there was no evidence of foul play. The cause of death will be determined through an autopsy, according to a news release.

For the first few years on "All in the Family," George Jefferson was not seen, only referred to by his wife, Louise, played by the late Isabel Sanford.

He told Archive of American Television in 2003 that he was told by the show's producers that Jefferson should be "pompous and feisty."

Jefferson was every bit as big a bigot as his neighbor, Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O'Connor. Jefferson often referred to white people as "honkies."

He was also mean and condescending to his neighbors, his son Lionel and, when he moved to a ritzy apartment on Manhattan's East Side, to his maid. But his character was still wildly popular with TV audiences.

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Filed under: Black in America • History • How we live • Pop culture
Opinion: Girls are taking over Comic Con
Take a good look, publishers. These ladies are buying comic books.
July 24th, 2012
06:31 PM ET

Opinion: Girls are taking over Comic Con

Editor's note: Rob Salkowitz is a business analyst and consultant specializing in the future of entertainment, media and technology. This is an excerpt from his latest book, "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture" (McGraw-Hill, 2012) which focuses on the nerdy audience at the largest comic book trade show in the Western Hemisphere. Follow him @robsalk.

I don’t think it will come as a big shock that, for most of the history of comics fandom, conventions have not been distinguished by high numbers of females of any age. That began to change in the 1990s, when strong and emotionally authentic female characters like Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the cheerful Goth-girl personification of Death in Neil Gaiman’s popular "Sandman" series activated the recessive fan gene on the X chromosome.

The trend accelerated with the mainstream popularity of manga, which had developed numerous styles over the years to appeal to all genders and was sold in bookstores, beyond the boys-club direct market comics shops. The rise of the Internet poured gasoline on the fire, creating spaces for feminerds to come out of the woodwork and share their passions. Many of today’s best online comic and fantasy-genre news sites and discussion groups were started by, and remain powered by, women.

Today, there are increasing numbers of proud girl geeks of all ages; I count myself fortunate to be married to one. Crowds at conventions and even some comics stores now reflect a much more equal gender balance. As for the comics industry itself, not so much. But that’s a different conversation.

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Filed under: Gender • Girls • History • Technology • What we think • Women
Opinion: The overwhelming maleness of mass homicide
Accused movie theater shooter James Holmes makes his first court appearance on Monday in Centennial, Colorado.
July 24th, 2012
09:39 AM ET

Opinion: The overwhelming maleness of mass homicide

By Erika Christakis, TIME.com

(TIME.com) – There's a predictable cycle of mourning and finger-pointing that follows a massacre like the shootings last week in Aurora, Colorado. First come the calls for unity and flags flown at half-staff. Then the national fissures appear: The gun lobby stiffens its spine as gun control advocates make their case. Psychologists parse the shooter's background, looking for signs of mental illness or family disarray. Politicians point fingers about "society run amok" and "cultures of despair."

We've been down this path so many times, yet we keep missing the elephant in the room: How many of the worst mass murderers in American history were women? None. This is not to suggest that women are never violent, and there are even the rare cases of female serial killers. But why aren't we talking about the glaring reality that acts of mass murder (and, indeed, every single kind of violence) are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men? Pointing out that fact may seem politically incorrect or irrelevant, but our silence about the huge gender disparity of such violence may be costing lives.

Imagine for a moment if a deadly disease disproportionately affected men. Not a disease like prostate cancer that can only affect men, but a condition prevalent in the general population that was vastly more likely to strike men. Violence is such a condition: Men are nine to 10 times more likely to commit homicide and more likely to be its victims.

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Filed under: Gender • History • How we look • What we think • Women