After His Death, ‘Jeffersons’ Sherman Hemsley’s Reported Family Drama Was Heartbreaking

Posted On : June 4, 2023
Sherman Hemsley

Although beloved actor, Sherman Hemsley, played the loud and outspoken “George Jefferson” on the The Jeffersons, in real life he was a very shy brotha, who preferred to keep his personal life ultra private. Unfortunately, after he passed away on July 24, 2012 at age 74, that privacy was invaded when the intense drama among his loved ones came to a head. In fact, the battling caused Sherman’s body to lay embalmed in a refrigerator at an El Paso, TX funeral home for over THREE months before he was finally laid to rest.

The reasons for that has everything to do with a dispute over his will, a fight for his estate, a surprise brother, gay rumors, and friends. Yeah, it was a really jacked up situation, but one man who was reportedly close to Sherman, spoke out to clear up the drama.

Hemsley’s Will Dispute
Six weeks prior to his passing Sherman had written the will for his estate, which was valued at $50,000.00. Soon after he died, a friend named Flora Enchinton was listed as the sole beneficiary. In his will, Sherman- who was never married and had no kids- referred to Flora as his “beloved partner.”

Flora stated that she was not only Sherman’s manager, but that she lived with him for over a decade and that they were close friends for 20 years.

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Hemsley’s ‘Brother’ Reportedly Surfaced
After the will was filed a man, named Richard Thornton, came outta the woodwork, claiming to be Hemsley’s brother and contested the will. That is what ultimately stalled Sherman Hemsley’s burial and memorial service for three months.

Sherman’s friend, Flora Enchinton , then publicly contested Thornton’s validity:

Via ABC 7 News El Paso- “It is disgraceful,” Flora Enchinton said. “It is sad. This was a man with dignity.”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. … Sherman left very worried about me, about me staying alone, what was going to happen me being alone if he was gone. 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 about the validity of her role in Hemsley’s life being questioned.

Then Came Conflicting Reports About A ‘Gay Lover’

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Rumors soon surfaced, that Sherman Hemsley was gay and that Flora was acting as his ‘beard’ to cover up Sherman’s ‘secret gay relationship’ with their longtime friend, Ken Johnston. There was never any validity to those rumors, but yet they still ran rampant as the fight over Sherman’s will continued. However, Ken’s son apparently shut those rumors all the way down…

Son Of Sherman’s Friend ‘Set Record Straight’ About Flora & Father
Shortly after Sherman Hemsley was finally buried in November 2012, Ken Johnston’s son, Steven Johnston, reportedly spoke out to Diary of A Street King to ‘set the record straight’ about his father’s relationship to Sherman and Flora.  Steven claimed that Flora was really his father, Ken’s, girlfriend. According to Steven, Flora was a ‘gold-digger’ who took advantage of Sherman to ultimately be granted his estate.

Steven Johnston also claimed that Ken was Sherman’s real manager, not Flora:

“The media also erroneously reported that Flora knew Sherman for 20 years, when she didn’t get to really know him until the move in ’99 to El Paso. She became his ‘manager representative’ in helping out my father when he was sidelined by a stroke in 2003, but my father was still the manager. My father told me that they were always talking about getting back to Los Angeles and it was getting close to becoming a reality until my fathers stroke,” wrote Steven Johnston.

In November, Flora was granted Sherman Hemsley’s estate and the legal fight was over.

This drama is probably not what Sherman envisioned the end of his life would have been shrouded in. But thankfully, the man who brought so much joy to the world was finally able to rest peacefully after being buried in a military service in El Paso, TX on November 9, 2012.