Who knew Mother Jefferson was a Masshole? It's true.

Olivia "Mother Jefferson" Jefferson, played by Zara Cully, was a recurring character on the Norman Lear situation comedy The Jeffersons, broadcast on CBS from January 18, 1975, to July 2, 1985.

The series starred Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson and Isabel Sanford as his wife Louise. Zara played George's mother. The Jeffersons, like Maude, Gloria, and Archie Bunker's Place, was a spinoff of All in the Family.

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The website Black Then says Cully first played Olivia Jefferson in an episode of All in the Family, entitled "Lionel's Engagement," which aired on February 9, 1974. She was 82 at the time.


Cully, who was 86 years old when she died on February 28, 1978, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on January 26, 1892.

Worcester Magazine says, "Cully's parents, Ambrose E. and Nora Ann (Gilliam) Cully, were born and raised in New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina, and, in 1880, relocated to Worcester." The publication says the Cully family, with roots in slavery, was politically active in Worcester in "building the Black community there."

Zara graduated from the Worcester School of Speech and Music.

She reportedly told Jet Magazine in 1978, "I guess God gave me the talent." She told the publication, "As a little bittie girl, I had a photographic memory." She added, "I could take a poem of 22 verses, read it over, and get right up and recite it."

Cully and James M. Brown Sr. were married from 1914 until he died in 1968. The couple had four children.

Cully moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where she launched her career as a producer, writer, director and stage and screen actor. She also taught drama at Edward Waters College and her studio.

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