by Alexis Taylor
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
The popular sitcom icon’s remains are currently locked away inside the San Jose Funeral Home in El Paso, Texas, where a refrigerator is keeping the actor’s body cold until a court settles disputes over who truly has rights to the body and assets.
Hemsley signed a will on June 13 leaving all of his possessions to Flora Enchinton, who said she has known the actor for 20 years and lived with him for the last 10 years.
Plans for Enchinton to have custody of the body were placed on hold when Richard Thornton, a Philadelphia man claiming to be the star’s brother, began to challenge the document.
“It is disgraceful,” said Flora Enchinton to El Paso ABC News affiliate KVIA. “It is sad. This was a man with dignity.”
Funeral directors are waiting for a judge’s decision before taking any action involving Hemsley’s body.
“Sherman left very worried about me, about me staying alone, what was going to happen to me being alone if he was gone,” Enchinton said. “That’s what worried him the most. I guess maybe he sensed what was going to happen.”
Hemsley is remembered for his classic roles on popular 1970s sitcoms such as “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” where he played sarcastic business owner, George Jefferson.
Aside from his prominence on the small screen, Hemsley was active in the theatre world. In 1970 he took to Broadway in “Purlie,” an Ossie Davis’ adapation of the play “Purlie Victorious.”
Hemsley was also seen on the 1980s show “Amen” as Deacon Ernest Frye, and made appearances on other modern comedy shows such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in the ‘90s and “House of Payne” in 2011.