EL PASO (CN) - The body of Sherman Hemsley, who played the cantankerous George Jefferson on television, has been refrigerated at an El Paso funeral home due to a family dispute over his will, KVIA-TV reported.
El Paso Probate Court ordered Hemsley's body kept in a freezer at the San Jose Funeral Home after his purported brother, Richard Thornton, of Philadelphia, contested his will. Thornton is requesting his possessions and remains.
Hemsley signed a will in June, listing Flora Enchinton of El Paso, as executrix of his estate and sole heir to all of his holdings. Hemsley referred to her as his "beloved partner" in the will.
"It is disgraceful," Enchinton told KVIA. "It is sad. This was a man with dignity."
Enchinton said she knew Hemsley for 20 years and lived with him for more than a decade in El Paso. She said she was Hemsley's manager, partner and best friend.
"Sherman left very worried about me, about me staying alone, what was going to happen me being alone if he was gone," she told KVIA, an ABC affiliate. "That's what worried him the most. I guess maybe he sensed what was going to happen. It just gives me these emotions and feelings (that) all of a sudden there's these people that have never known anything about our life, about who we are, about what we're all about, about what we endured."
Enchinton said: "I have never heard of anyone with the name of Richard Thornton in the 20 years I have known Sherman. This is not what Sherman would have wanted."
No biographical information exists stating that Hemsley had a brother; he is listed as an only child, KVIA reported.
An accomplished theater actor, Hemsley rose to fame in the role of dry cleaning magnate George Jefferson, first on "All in the Family" in 1973. He reprised the role two years later in "The Jeffersons," a spinoff series that ran for 10 seasons.