Salt and Pepper
New York City, New York
Place of Death
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Sanford and Son
Profile Bio Text
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 while he played Grady on Sanford and Son. 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 tentative in his life, Mayo viewed his continuing success on the series as fleeting and ventured into other trades to assure financial stability. In 1975, for instance, he opened a travel agency in Inglewood, California. Mayo starred in an unsuccessful spin-off, Grady, in which his character moved in with his daughter and her husband in Beverly Hills. In the late 1970s he appeared on the Los Angeles children`s television program That`s Cat, offering sage advice in a sweet manner to the main character, Alice. In 1996, the show Late Night with Conan O`Brien wished to use him in a sketch, but were unable to locate him. The show mounted a highly publicized tongue-in-cheek search for Mayo called "Where`s Grady?". After three weeks and over 50,000 calls to NBC from fans who claimed to have spotted him, Mayo finally appeared on Late Night with Conan O`Brien to a standing ovation from the audience, and the highest ratings Late Night with Conan O`Brien had seen in years. Mayo revealed that it was his mother who told him of the search after a repairman saw his picture in her house and told her she could be eligible for a reward.
Although best known for his television work, Mayo made several film appearances, including The Main Event with Barbra Streisand, D.C. Cab, Boyz in the Hood and Waterproof with Burt Reynolds. Mayo also appeared as Reverend Banyon on the BET TV Movie Boycott in 2001 and in an episode of "Martin."
Mayo died of a heart attack at Atlanta`s Grady Memorial Hospital, a hospital bearing the same name as the character for which he was most well-known. He had resided in Fayetteville, Georgia since 1994 and was survived by his third wife Gail and their two children as well as his son of a previous relationship. His son Rahn Mayo is currently a member of the Georgia House of Representatives representing House District 91. He is also survived by his daughters Tanya Mayo, Suni Mayo Simpson, and daughter Pangi Raysor and son Jon-jo Raysor of Brooklyn,NY and Jabrie Lovelace who currently resides in Washington, DC.
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Whitman 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.
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