Franklin Cover as Tom Willis in the Season 5 AITF episode "The Jeffersons Move Up", which served as the pilot episode for The Jeffersons spinoff series.
|Spouse(s):||Helen Willis, married 1953|
|Related to:||Allan Willis (son)|
Jenny Willis-Jefferson (daughter)
Jessica Jefferson (granddaughter)
|Appeared on:||All in the Family|
|Character played by:||Franklin Cover|
About Tom and Helen Willis
Tom is an author, and president of his publishing company, Pelham Publishers. He lives a content life with his wife Helen played by Roxie Roker. Initially serving as a nemesis to George Jefferson early on in series, they later developed a close friendship as the series evolved.
Tom is white, and Helen is black; because of this racial mixing, they are often the butt of George's insults and jokes. Tom and Helen, however, both learned to ignore the bigotry of their neighbor. In their initial appearance on the parent show Tom states that they had met "his" kind—black and white—and they always handled it. His daughter, Jenny Willis (who is the one most resembling her mother in skin color cases), marries' George's son, Lionel in 1976. He develops a strong relationship with Jenny, but was never close to his "white" son, Allan Willis (Jay Hammer) because he never finished school and left New York City and stayed in Paris for two years. They were never close with each other for the reason they have their own differences. While Allan chooses to be care-free, Tom thinks he should settle down and find a job to ensure a profitable future. As the series went on (particularly after Lionel and Jenny married), George and Tom eventually became friends (though George still continued to make jokes about Tom's weight and his being white).
Additionally, Tom is a caring person, but often dominated by his wife. He also is ridiculed occasionally due to his weight. He is known to be a horrible dancer, as indicated in a few episodes. He also occasionally reluctantly goes along with George's constant schemes but for the most part prefers to be left out of them.