All in the Family TV show Wiki
Franklin Cover
Franklin Cover B&W
Franklin Cover first appeared as Tom Willis in the AITF episode "The Jeffersons Move Up", also the series pilot for "The Jeffersons" TV spinoff series, in Season 5.
Personal Information
Birthname: Franklin Edward Cover
Gender: Male
Born: (1928-11-20)November 20, 1928
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died: February 5, 2006(2006-02-05) (aged 77)
Deathplace: Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
Spouse(s): Mary Bradford Stone, (1965–2006; his death)
Character/Series involvement
Series: All in the Family
Character played: Tom Willis in Seasons 5 episode "The Jeffersons Move Up"
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Franklin Edward Cover (November 20, 1928 – February 5, 2006) was a veteran stage/TV/film actor most noted for starring on The Jeffersons. His character, Tom Willis, whose marriage to wife Helen (played by Roxie Roker) served as one of the first interracial marriages to be seen on prime-time television. Franklin took over the role of Tom Willis in the Season 5 episode "The Jeffersons Move Up" from actor Charles Aidman, who originated the role, when it was named "Louis Willis" in the Season 4 episode "Lionel's Engagement"


Cover was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Britta Schreck and Franklin Held Cover. His career started on the stage acting in Shakespearean plays such as Henry IV, Part 1 and Hamlet. He also appeared in Forty Carats with Julie Harris. He made his television debut on Naked City and later appeared on The Jackie Gleason Show.[1]

In 1965, he married Mary Bradford Stone.[2]

His first significant role was on The Jeffersons in 1975 as Tom Willis who was married to a Black woman, Helen, played by Roxie Roker.[3] The couple lived in the same high-rise apartment building as the sitcom's title characters. Cover would often be the foil to Sherman Hemsley's black businessman, George Jefferson. The sitcom ran from 1975 to 1985. He also appeared in The Stepford Wives in 1975.

Following the end of The Jeffersons, Cover continued to make guest appearances on television shows as well as appearing in a supporting role in 1987'a Wall Street with film co-stars Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas. In 1994, he appeared in the second episode of ER. His final television appearance was in an episode of Will & Grace (entitled "Object Of My Rejection") that aired on May 13, 1999.

Cover died at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, on February 5, 2006. He had been living at the home since December 2005 while recuperating from a heart condition, and died of pneumonia.[3][1]


He was survived by his wife; the former Mary Bradford Stone, two adult children; Susan and Bradford, and a grandson, Maxwell. His son, Bradford Cover, is an actor and lives in New York City. He has appeared on Law and Order, Broadway, and Off Broadway, and is a company member at The Pearl Theatre Company. His daughter Susan is the founder of Susie's Supper Club, a home delivery food service that caters to parents and children in New York.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Franklin Cover, White Neighbor on 'Jeffersons', Dies at 77", February 10, 2006. Retrieved on 2011-03-23. “In his nearly six decades in show business, Cover made numerous appearances on television shows, including "The Jackie Gleason Show," "All in the Family," "Who's the Boss?" "Will & Grace," "Living Single," "Mad About You" and "ER."” 
  2. "Franklin Cover to Wed Mary Bradford, Stone", January 7, 1965. Retrieved on 2011-03-23. “Miss Mary Bradford Stone and Franklin Edward Cover, will be married on Jan. 30. Their engagement has made known by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bradford ...” 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Franklin Cover, 77, Actor on 'Jeffersons'", February 11, 2006. Retrieved on 2011-03-23. “Franklin Cover, who became a familiar face as George and Louise Jefferson's neighbor in the long-running sitcom The Jeffersons, died on Sunday in Englewood, N.J. He was 77. The cause was pneumonia, said his publicist, Dale Olson. He had been living at the Lillian Booth Actors' Fund of America home since December 2005 while recuperating from a heart condition.” 

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