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TV star's body remains unburied as will dispute unfolds

Sherman Hemsley, the late television actor who became famous for portraying the character George Jefferson, is still not resting in peace. His body is being held in a El Paso, Texas funeral home while his beneficiary and a man who claims to be Hemsley's brother argue over his estate,valued in court documents at "more than $50,000."

Hemsley died on July 24 of lung cancer at the age of 74. In his will he left the entirety of his estate to a woman he described as his "beloved partner." The will was written six weeks before Hemsley's death and made no mention of blood relatives. A Philadelphia man has stepped forward to contest the document, claiming it may not have been written by the late comedian. Hemsley was born in Philadelphia.

The woman named in the will says she and Hemsley knew each other for more than 20 years, and that she was his manager during that time. She also claims that she, Hemsley, and another friend lived together for a time, and Hemsley never said anything about having a brother. The woman told a reporter, "some people come out of the woodwork, they think Sherman, they think money."

Hemsley created the character George Jefferson, a bigoted, blustery New York businessman who made his debut in "All in the Family," a ground-breaking, 1970's situation comedy that dealt with previously taboo subjects like racism, cancer and homosexuality. The character was spun off into a separate comedy, "The Jeffersons," which ran for ten years. The case will have to be heard in court but there is no date set. Meanwhile, Hemsley's body reposes in a refrigerated cabinet until a probate judge sorts the situation out.

Source: The Associated Press, "Will dispute prevents burial of Sherman Hemsley," Juan Carlos Llorca, Aug. 30, 2012

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