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What's Happening, Shirley Hemphill!!

Published: 12/10/2012
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Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

Here at, we've got a soft spot for sitcom stars of days gone by – great comic actors like Bea Arthur, Don Knotts, Isabel Sanford, Estelle Getty, Audra Lindley, John Ritter, Esther Rolle, and Redd Foxx were just some of the people who made us laugh week after week. And of course, we can't forget one of TV's greatest sassy waitresses, Shirley Hemphill.

Hemphill played namesake Shirley on What's Happening!! from 1976 to 1979, before moving on to her own short-lived show, One in a Million, and the revival show What's Happening Now!! Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s – before her death from kidney failure on December 10, 1999 at the age of 52 – Hemphill had occasional guest-star gigs on TV, as well as movie roles and opportunities to perform her stand-up routine. But we'll always remember her best as Shirley.



Written by Linnea Crowther



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