Judge puts hold on Gary Coleman's cremation

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The Independent Online

A judge ordered that Diff'rent Strokes actor Gary Coleman's remains be cremated no sooner than tomorrow afternoon, so Coleman's ex-girlfriend has enough time to travel from Oregon to Utah to see his body.

Fourth District Judge James Taylor appointed an independent attorney to oversee Coleman's property and the cremation of his remains until a dispute between the actor's ex-wife and ex-girlfriend is settled.

The court named Provo attorney Robert Jeffs the special administrator of Coleman's estate. Mr Jeffs was not notified of the ruling in advance and was not at the hearing.

"All I know about the death, the estate and the dispute is what I've read in the media," Mr Jeffs said after learning of the decision.

Though a specific cremation date was not set, Mr Jeffs said Coleman's ashes and property will be securely stored until a final determination is made on an estate executor.

Coleman died May 28, but his cremation has been on hold because of legal wrangling over his assets, which include a Utah home valued in property tax records at 315,000 US dollars and a collection of toy trains.

Coleman's ex-wife, Shannon Price, and his former girlfriend and manager, Anna Gray, both contend they are the lawful administrators of his estate.

Ms Gray is named in a 2005 will, and the judge delayed Coleman's cremation so Ms Gray could travel to Utah from Portland, Oregon, and see his body before it is cremated.

"She's attached to him. She cared about him. She just wants to see him again," said Ms Gray's attorney, Randy Kester.

Mr Kester said Coleman and Ms Gray knew each other for eight years. He said she moved to Utah and lived with Coleman briefly before Coleman and Price became romantically involved in 2005 on the set of the comedy Church Ball.

Price declined to comment. She 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.

Coleman stated in both wills that he wanted to be cremated.

Coleman starred for eight seasons on the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, starting in 1978.

The 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.