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Sherman Hemsley's burial delayed from will dispute

Sherman Hemsley appears with Isabel Sanford in a scene from the 1970s series 'The Jeffersons.' (Embassy Television / CBS)
August 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The embalmed body of Sherman Hemsley of "The Jeffersons" will be kept at an El Paso funeral home until a court rules on the validity of his will.

The actor signed his will six weeks before he died of lung cancer July 24. In the will, he named Flora Enchinton as the sole beneficiary of his estate, which is estimated in court documents to be more than $50,000. He called the 56-year-old a "beloved partner."

The will is being contested by Richard Thornton, of Philadelphia, who claims to be Hemsley's brother and says the will might not have been made by the actor.

Enchinton told the Associated Press on Wednesday that she had been friends with the actor and had been his manager for more than 20 years. While she, Hemsley and his friend Kenny Johnston lived together, she said the actor never mentioned any relatives.

"Some people come out of the woodwork - they think Sherman, they think money," Enchinton said. "But the fact is that I did not know Sherman when he was in the limelight. I met them when they (Hemsley and Johnston) came running from Los Angeles with not one penny, when there was nothing but struggle."

There is no court date set for the case. Enchinton says she hopes it will all be cleared in court.

Hemsley played Jefferson in the CBS sitcom "All in the Family," then starred in the spinoff "The Jeffersons" from 1975 to 1985. It was one of TV's longest-running sitcoms, and it was particularly noteworthy due to its predominantly black cast.

Hemsley made George Jefferson - the bigoted, blustering Harlem businessman - one of TV's most memorable characters and a symbol for urban upward mobility.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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