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Whitman Mayo

Whitman Mayo

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Whitman Blount Mayo (November 15, 1930 – May 22, 2001) was an American actor best known for his role as Grady Wilson on the 1970s television sitcom Sanford and Son.

Whitman Blount Mayo was born in New York City and grew up in Harlem and Queens. At the age of 17, he moved with his family to Southern California and from there entered the United States Army, serving from 1951 to 1953 during the Korean War. Upon release, he studied at Chaffey College, Los Angeles City College, and UCLA. During this time, he began acting in small parts, while waiting tables and working in the vineyards and as a probation officer, as well as a variety of other small jobs. He also spent seven years as a counselor to delinquent boys.

In the early 1970s, while working for the New Lafayette Theatre, Norman Lear offered Mayo a role as Grady Wilson on Sanford and Son. The character’s name was based on Grady Demond Wilson, the actor who played Lamont Sanford. During a period where Redd Foxx did not appear on the show due to a contract dispute, Grady moved into the Sanford house and effectively starred in the show for six episodes.

Mayo later starred in Grady, an unsuccessful spin-off in which his character moved in with his daughter and her husband in Beverly Hills. After its cancellation in 1976, Mayo’s Grady character returned to Sanford and Son.

Mayo reprised the role in the unsuccessful 1977 NBC-TV spinoff series Sanford Arms opposite actor Theodore Wilson, and for two episodes of Sanford, another NBC-TV Sanford and Son spinoff, this time opposite Redd Foxx and actor Dennis Burkley, in 1981.

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