Hemsley was 74 years old. The cause of death was a result of a cancerous mass on his lung, according to the El Paso County Texas Medical Examiner.
On August 28, 2012, an El Paso, Texas news anchor interviewed the sole beneficiary of Hemsley’s will, Flora Enchinton, who said Hemsley’s body is frozen in the San Jose Funeral Home in El Paso, Texas, waiting for the court to approve his burial. Enchinton says she had been friends with Hemsley and had even been his manager for more than two decades. During this time she lived with Hemsley and Hemsley’s friend Kenny Johnston. Enchinton tells AP Hemsley never mentioned any relatives. “Some people come out of the woodwork – they think Sherman, they think money,” Enchinton tells AP. “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.”
A Philadelphia man named Richard Thornton said he is the brother of Hemsley, and is the true heir to his estate. After contesting a June 17, 2012 will, Thornton halted progress on funeral arrangements. As a result, Hemsley’s body remained refrigerated and unburied for months.
On November 9, 2012, the legal battle over Hemsley’s body ended when Judge Patricia Chew ruled in favor of Hemsley’s business partner, Flora Isela Enchinton.
A military funeral was planned for Hemsley. He was interred at Fort Bliss National Cemetery in his adopted hometown of El Paso, Texas.
Sherman Alexander Hemsley was an actor, best known for his role as George Jefferson on the CBS television series All in the Family and The Jeffersons, and as Deacon Ernest Frye on the NBC series Amen. He also played Earl Sinclair’s horrifying boss, a Triceratops named B.P. Richfield, on the Jim Henson sitcom Dinosaurs.