Dispute delays El Paso burial of actor who played George Jefferson




Posted on September 6, 2012 at 2:39 AM

EL PASO — It’s been six weeks since the actor who played George Jefferson on television died, but a fight over his will and his remains has delayed Sherman Hemsley’s burial.

Hemsley was famous for his portrayal of the brash, outspoken, and wealthy dry cleaner on the hit comedy "The Jeffersons." 

The actor lived a quiet life in El Paso, where he spent his final years with Flora Enchinton, a woman referred to as his "beloved partner" in Hemsley's will.

Enchinton, who shared a home with Hemsley, says she’s had a hard time since the actor’s death on July 24.

"Waking up every day and hoping this is a dream and he’s going to be there. But that’s not the case," she said.

Enchinton told El Paso television station KVIA she’s known Hemsley for 20 years, and helped manage his career. She was there when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in May.

"I saw Sherman, and he was upset, and he had this look, looking at the doctor and the doctor kept talking and Sherman said, ‘You know what? I don’t want to hear it. Don’t talk to me; talk to Flora,  she’ll talk to me,’" she recalled.

Hemsley named Enchinton the sole beneficiary of his estate on June 13. After his death, Richard Thornton of Philadelphia came forward to contest the will.

In court documents, Thornton claims the actor is his brother, and was "not of sound mind" when he signed the will six weeks before his death.

"I have never heard of a so-called brother named Richard Thornton," Enchinton said.

Reached by phone, Thornton said he had no comment. His attorney did not return phone calls. In court documents, he’s asking for the estate valued at over $50,000, as well as the actor’s remains.

Hemsley’s body remains in cold storage at an El Paso funeral home while a probate court decides what happens next. A hearing is set for September 24.

E-mail akocherga@belo.com