The Truth Behind SANFORD & SON!!


By: The great and fellow journalist, Adaora Otiji, who originally published interview on

Demond Wilson tells all about 'Sanford and Son' in new book.

Demond Wilson defined a generation opposite Redd Foxx in the ground breaking television show, "Sanford and Son." Wilson's escapades as Lamont Sanford in the television series led to a long and productive career for the now 63-year-old actor. He's acted in numerous TV series and movies, written screenplays and even pursued his life's calling to become a pastor and start a philanthropic organization to help convicted felons find strength in education. Wilson took a few minutes to speak with about his newest project, including the book "Second Banana: The Bittersweet Memoirs of the Sanford & Son Years," which is scheduled for release on Aug. 31.

What is your new book, "Second Banana," about? The book's website,, says there are "no punches pulled," so I'm assuming this isn't a memoir about people doing outrageous things on the set of "Sanford & Son."

Demond Wilson: It's just a documented truth, behind the scenes factual account of what happened during those years. Red and I were making history back in those days. We were the first blacks to be on television in that capacity and we opened the door for all those other shows that came after us. When I wrote the book it was to tell the truth and debunk all of the stories people Google. I just sat down, free of all the venom, to just tell our story. You can't Google the things that are in this book. It's privileged information. During the show I had the sense that this was going to be a monumental achievement in history so I kept a mental diary of things. I have a photographic memory, which always kind of annoyed Redd, but it's come in handy.

What does the title "Second Banana" mean?

DW: The title is a throwback to the old vaudeville years. Top banana was the star of the show, and second banana was like the sidekick. So it goes back to me and Redd and the show. Redd was the top banana and I was the second banana.

I really like the caricature cover art you've got on the book. Was the cover art custom made?

DW: It was actually. It was designed by a talented friend of mine named Jeremie Leaderman. When I saw it I just thought "this is perfect for the book." It's got me in the truck and Redd standing next to me and it just looked perfect and encapsulated what the book is.

You've jumped on the Twitter bandwagon it seems mainly to promote the book. Did you find it difficult to use technology like that and have you seen positive results so far?

DW: I don't have a whole lot of time for that whole thing and my kids were actually the ones that got me into it. I've been making appearances in support of this book for a few months and they actually said 'dad you need to go on Twitter' because they're so much younger and they thought it might help. So far it's definitely boosted presales for the book.

What is the most memorable moment you had acting opposite Redd Foxx in "Sanford & Son?"

DW: I've had quite a few and they're all in the book. I obviously can't talk about that since it's in the book, but I've got quite a few experiences with him.

Your chemistry with Redd on screen was undeniable, but why do you think you never had that same chemistry on other television shows?

DW: I have no idea. It's like a woman who marries someone and they die and they never find that again. We just had that chemistry together.

What does your organization, Restoration House of America, do exactly?

DW: Restoration House was formed for the rehabilitation of first time prison offenders. We were giving GED and some college courses, but mostly we're teaching entrepreneurial skills. You have a lot of men who stray from the truth and from the law, but they're not bad people.

How did things get started with the organization?

DW: I started going into the penal systems with Redd. We would go and entertain at these local correctional institutions if we had to travel for filming or anything. From there I asked myself what are these men really getting out of our visit and I eventually decided to start Restoration House in 1995.

Tell me a little about your movie, "Faith Ties."

DW: It's in the genre of "It's A Wonderful Life." It's kind of like that. I play a broken down old drunk whose wife and daughter are killed and he's given up on life. The protagonist is a pastor who is in the middle while he watches the lives of people crumbling around him. It's a wonderful story. We're gonna start principal photography as soon as the leaves leave the trees in Detroit. We're filming in Detroit because of the incentives the city is giving for filming because of the economic crisis it's in.

How long will you be filming?

DW: For as long as it takes. We're only in pre-production now, but our goal release date for the movie is fall 2010 since it's a holiday story.

So what's next for you? Besides the book and movie, are you working on any other projects?

DW: Ha ha, this is taking up all of my time right now. I have published books before but this is my first book that I've personally published. I worked on about four projects in one year, including "Second Banana."

So you're due for a vacation when all of this is over.

DW: I live in a resort area in Palm Springs, Calif., so I get to relax all the time. I love to play golf to unwind, but I don't really feel like I need a vacation right now though. I'm going on 63 years young and I don't know if anyone told you but 63 is the new 43.

For more info on the book, go to
Posted on 10:02 AM by Lisa Ford and filed under | 3 Comments »


Keli said... @ September 25, 2009 at 2:45 PM

I'm with Oprah now...

it's so lame to tell an interviewer "I can't talk about that, it's in the book". Somewhat negated the entire interview for me.

Could have given one answer...and it all can't be in the book.

Lisa Ford said... @ September 25, 2009 at 11:36 PM

@keli I agree, from what I hear, they weren't given dressing rooms, food, etc. etc. for yers until the show took off, and even then, their backstage conditions were not impressive...but I totally agree with you

ZODCORE said... @ September 26, 2009 at 7:16 AM

Sanford and Son was cool as shit. Broke me heart when Red Fox past. At least Desmond is carrying on the legacy. Ur right Keli, to say "I can't talk about it-" is kinda like a kick in the balls 2 the interviewer.

High 5 to Desmond going with an awesome hand drawn peace cover. Lot of people are going with the lame grahics now and that has no soul.