Whitman Mayo

Whitman Mayo

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Whitman Mayo

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

Noted for portraying characters older than his actual age, Mayo was in his 40s when he played Grady on Sanford and Son.


Early years

Mayo was born in New York City, New York and grew up in Harlem and Queens. He moved with his family to Southern California at age seventeen and from there entered the United States Army from 1951 to 1953. 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, working in the vineyards and as a probation officer and a variety of other small jobs.

For seven years he was a counselor to delinquent boys.


In the late 1960s, he joined the New Lafayette Theater repertory company in New York City and began settling down in an acting career. His call to Sanford and Son came shortly thereafter when a friend from the New Lafayette group who was by that time writing for Norman Lear recommended Mayo for a part in a single episode. His portrayal caught on and he lasted through the entire duration of the show, even filling in as the leading character while the star, Redd Foxx, held out for more pay. Mayo's character was Grady Wilson; Grady Demond Wilson is the birth name of the show's co-star, Demond Wilson, who played Fred Sanford's son. Having a plethora of experience with the...
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