SALT LAKE CITY — After being held up by legal wrangling for nearly three weeks, the cremation of Gary Coleman’s remains took place Thursday the way the late actor wanted — without any fanfare, said the attorney named to oversee the late actor’s estate.
Attorney Robert Jeffs said in a statement the remains were cremated at 5:15 p.m. at a mortuary in Sandy, a Salt Lake City suburb.
“The proceeding was conducted in accordance with Mr. Coleman’s desires as expressed in his will that no funeral service, wake or other ceremony memorialize his passing,” the brief statement said.
Jeffs revealed earlier this week that Coleman’s 2005 will specified he wanted no funeral. That document trumped a 1999 will in which Coleman said he wanted to be remembered in a wake conducted by people who had no financial ties to him and “can look each other in the eyes and say they really cared personally for Gary Coleman.”
The former child TV star died May 28 at the age of 42 after suffering a brain hemorrhage. He had fallen two days earlier at his home in Santaquin, about 55 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Coleman’s cremation had been on hold because of a dispute over his assets between his ex-wife, Shannon Price, and ex-girlfriend, Anna Gray. Both contend they are the lawful administrators of his estate.
On Monday, a Utah judge appointed Jeffs to oversee Coleman’s property and remains until the dispute is settled.
Jeffs has said Coleman’s ashes and belongings will be securely stored until a final determination is made on an estate executor. It’s a decision Jeffs said could take months.
Coleman’s 1999 will named Dion Mial, one of Coleman’s friends and former managers, who on Monday withdrew his petition to be named as the special administrator of Coleman’s estate. Mial’s attorney said the 2005 will, which names Gray as administrator, takes precedence because it is more recent.
Price is named in a 2007 handwritten note by Coleman that is intended to amend any earlier wills. The note names Price as the sole heir of Coleman’s earnings, home, toy trains and other property.
“I made this change of free will and was not coerced in any way,” says the note dated Sept. 4, 2007, less than a month after Coleman and Price married. “This I have done because of my personal selfishness and my weakness and I love her with all my heart.”
Price and Coleman met in 2005 on the set of the comedy “Church Ball.” They divorced in 2008.
Coleman was still conscious when he was taken to a hospital in Provo on May 26 but slipped into unconsciousness the next day and was placed on life support. It was Price who ordered that Coleman be taken off life support. In 2006, Coleman signed documents giving Price legal authority to make medical decisions for him if he couldn’t.
Coleman starred for eight seasons on the sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes,” starting in 1978. The tiny 10-year-old’s “Whachu talkin’ ’bout?” became a catch phrase in the show about two African-American brothers adopted by a wealthy white man. Coleman played Arnold Jackson, the younger of the two brothers.