Omarosa ‘Manipulated’ Actor Michael Clarke Duncan in His Final Days, Say Family and Friends

Omarosa ‘Manipulated’ Actor Michael Clarke Duncan in His Final Days, Say Family and Friends

Amy Zimmerman

09.10.18 5:15 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE

Unhinged, Omarosa Manigault Newman’s recent tell-all, has made headlines for offering an “insider’s look” at the dysfunctional Trump White House. But beneath the much-hyped tapes and television appearances, Omarosa has buried another controversial story. In the chapter “Shattered,” the reality TV star turned-White-House-adviser turned disgraced-former-White-House-adviser recounts the death of her ex, actor Michael Clarke Duncan. Omarosa charts the relationship, from their meet-cute at a Whole Foods to his secret proposal just months before Duncan suffered a heart attack in his home.

“I was lying in bed with Michael the night of July 13,” Omarosa writes, “when I noticed a change in his breathing. His soft snores became ragged, and then stopped altogether. I put my hand on his chest and realized he wasn’t breathing. I called 911 in a panic and told the operator what was happening, that my fiancé wasn’t breathing and might be having a heart attack. The operator gave me instructions to perform CPR, which I did, as I’d been trained to do in college, until the paramedics arrived and took Michael to the hospital.”

“He was still alive,” she adds. “The paramedics told me if it hadn’t been for my efforts, he would have died.” Omarosa recalled that, in the following weeks, Clarke Duncan regained consciousness “here and there.”

But according to friends and family of the late actor, who passed away on September 3, 2012, Omarosa is only telling one side of the story. Andrea Weltman, a close friend of Michael Clarke Duncan’s who visited him many times during his weeks-long hospitalization at Cedars-Sinai, told The Daily Beast that she bought Omarosa’s book so that she could report back to Duncan’s family “if she dares talk about Michael, which she does.”

“Omarosa didn’t ask for Judy [Duncan, Michael Clarke Duncan’s sister]’s permission, she didn’t tell her she was going to do it,” Weltman said. “Sadly, she continues to smear the family and present them as opportunists with their hands out, clamoring for estate money.”

As The Daily Beast previously reported, Omarosa and Michael Clarke Duncan’s family publicly butted heads in the wake of his passing. In April 2013, TMZ reported that Duncan’s sister, Judy Duncan, was questioning “whether the late actor’s fiancée unduly influenced him into rewriting his will months before he died and leaving almost everything to her,” further alleging that Clarke Duncan “was not of sound mind when he made the changes… slurring words and stumbling around.”

According to TMZ, “Judy says her suspicions about Omarosa intensified when MCD was hospitalized following his heart attack… telling us Omarosa was fixated on MCD’s money when he was on life support. Another thorn in Judy’s side…Omarosa has already sold a bunch of MCD’s personal effects (watches, cars, his ‘Green Mile’ director’s chair, awards, etc.). Judy says Omarosa sold the stuff without the family’s knowledge… and she’s pissed.”

Judy Duncan told The Daily Beast that she stands by the TMZ bulletin: “I still feel that way on all of those things. I still feel that way. The last time I saw Michael was December of 2011 for Christmas. And he seemed a bit off. And by off I mean, he wasn’t his natural, normal self.”

As for the accusation that Omarosa may have unduly influenced the actor into updating his will, Duncan remarked, “I think anyone can be manipulated at any time. I think there’s always somebody that’s going to try and get something out of you, and I think that’s what it was. Because like I said, the last time we saw him, he just wasn’t right. There was something going on, and I know it. So for him to have left her everything, there was some manipulation there.”

For Duncan, talking about her brother’s death is still incredibly painful—and she prefers to keep Omarosa’s name “out of my mouth.”

“People want me to comment on her, and it’s like, what can you really say about a serpent, other than it’s a serpent?” Duncan laughed. “I’m not a snake handler, so I stay away.”

“This person wants more than 15 minutes of fame, and money along with it. As you notice, every time she starts to die down, she tries to pop back up. And the reason that you never hear from us or see us is because we’re not those type of folks. I just retired from my job that I worked for 35 years, and I worked other jobs prior to that for 15 years. So we’re working class, we’re folks who just want to enjoy life and treat people right, and hope that we get treated right too. That’s it. So to be caught up in this, it’s a bit much—to say the least.” (Omarosa did not respond to requests for comment for this story.)

At the time, Omarosa publicly responded to Duncan’s allegations by accusing the late actor’s family of extortion, saying, “I don’t control the estate or the finances and Judy knows it. If you saw all of her emails and texts to me, you would see that she is just trying to get money from me, and threatened going to press if I did not give it to her and that is a crime!” In Unhinged, Omarosa doubles down on this narrative, insisting that, on top of her grief at Duncan’s passing, “I had to deal with all of Michael’s long-lost family members and associates who came out of the woodwork making demands for money and inheritance.”

Judy Duncan directly addressed this accusation, saying that she asked her brother for a monthly stipend in order to care for their mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Duncan recalled telling Michael Clarke Duncan that, “It’s not going to cover me missing days of work, but at least it will be something to help towards mom’s care.” She continued, “So when [Omarosa] says we had our hands out, that was it. I didn’t beg for cars, I didn’t beg for houses, I didn’t beg for any of that. I just want that known, that we were never a family that would beg Michael for anything.”

In the years since Michael Clarke Duncan’s death, Omarosa has repeatedly spoken about his family in less than flattering terms. In December 2013, she blamed the actor’s unmarked grave on “family infighting,” telling the Daily News, “I tried to do it immediately, but his sister, niece and cousins could not decide on what to put down. I finally had to step in and tell them to come to some consensus.”

“She lied to me and told me that he was going to be ok, and I didn’t even get to go out there and see him. My God.”

Michael Clarke Duncan’s niece, who asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons because she is not publicly linked to the Green Mile star, told The Daily Beast, “Over the years we’ve been used to people wanting to hear our side—and when I say we, I mean our family, my mom especially. It’s a part of our life that we would like the truth to come out on, but at the same time, we’re everyday average people, and we don’t need that type of attention. She has more of a platform than we do, so usually what happens is she tries to make it seem like we’re lying, or we have other motives. And that’s not the case.”

“There were a lot of things that were said that were lies,” she added, “A lot of things that, unless you were really close with us, you have no clue the agony that we went through emotionally dealing with his death, and with who was in his life at the time.”

To this day, Duncan’s niece does not care to use Omarosa’s name when discussing “the last girlfriend that my uncle had.” She elaborates: “I’m highlighting the word girlfriend, because there was never any proof of anyone, including him, saying that he was going to get married or that he was engaged.” She had only met Omarosa once in person, when the family convened for Christmas. But once Michael Clarke Duncan was sick, she quickly got to know the reality TV star.

“There were a lot of things that did not go right between the time he ended up in the hospital and his funeral,” she began. She recalled Omarosa telling the family not to “tell anybody that he’s here [in the hospital],” because the news of Michael Clarke Duncan’s condition could “mess up a lot of his business deals and contracts.”

“We weren’t saying anything, but every day, she had other people coming up there. I understand that there were certain people that should’ve been in the loop, but there were people up there that shouldn’t have been up there. Meanwhile his best friend of a million years kept asking, should I come down, should I come down? And we were like no, they don’t really want anyone here.”

Kevin Jones, one of Michael Clarke Duncan’s oldest and closest friends—they were college roommates in 1979—confirmed that Omarosa “didn’t even want to notify me,” adding, “She was trying to keep everything at a hush-hush.”

“The family finally called and told me what was going on, and then when I was talking to Omarosa, I was ready to go out there,” Jones recalled, “But Omarosa put on this front to me that he was just OK—like he had a heart attack, but he’s responsive—and that was never the damn truth. And I never got a chance to go out there and be by his bedside, and I think she did that intentionally, because she didn’t want me out there.”

“She lied to me and told me that he was going to be OK, and I didn’t even get to go out there and see him. My God.”

Weltman believes that she was one of a select few friends whom Omarosa allowed by Michael Clarke Duncan’s bedside, telling The Daily Beast, “She wasn’t threatened by me—she saw me as a kind of benign, harmless friend, who supported her in the hospital.” Weltman added that, throughout the six to eight times that she visited, over multiple weeks, Michael Clarke Duncan never woke up. “He was breathing on his own,” she remembered, “but he wasn’t there.”

Michael Clarke Duncan’s niece recalled one particularly unwelcome guest—an ex-girlfriend whom the actor had remained close with. “There was one girl, she called, and she was told, don’t call again and don’t come out to the hospital. She tried to come and see him at the hospital, and security got called. She couldn’t even get up. So from then on, I knew it wasn’t right.”

At the hospital, Omarosa allegedly manned Michael Clarke Duncan’s phone—to the shock and consternation of his loved ones. “I should have known that he was in a more critical situation than what she had told me,” Jones told The Daily Beast, “Because I asked her for a phone number, and she said call his phone—and I knew right then, there’s no way in hell he’s going to let her have his phone, because everything is in that phone.” He laughed, adding, “She went through that phone and found out what was really going on.”

Michael Clarke Duncan’s niece took careful note of all the red flags at the hospital. They quickly piled up. She said that Omarosa repeatedly brought up Michael Clarke Duncan’s will “when he was sitting there in a coma.” Additionally, she claims the Apprentice star wouldn’t let Duncan’s family stay in his house: “We were told that the house was locked up and nobody was allowed to go in. They sent me way out to a hotel by the airport, with no one to take me back and forth. So I was taking three buses to get back and forth to the hospital.”

“Why would you bring his family here in town and then not properly look after them?” She wondered. “It was just a lot of little weird things like that.”

“We couldn’t get out to the house, you asked for his sperm while he was in a coma, you talked about his will while he was in a coma,” Duncan’s niece listed off. “But we’re the ones that are trying to get you?”

Judy Duncan confirmed that Omarosa did not allow them into her brother’s house, even after Michael Clarke Duncan passed: “She kept making excuses.”

Michael Clarke Duncan’s family is also convinced that Omarosa lied about her engagement and imminent wedding plans. “I know my uncle,” the actor’s niece told The Daily Beast. “Michael was not engaged—from what I heard, he was starting to see someone else. And if Michael got tired of you…”

“At the hospital, it was brought up about her being engaged, and she showed my mother a picture of a ring that she had printed off from somewhere,” she recalled. “And she was saying that that was the ring he had given her. But she never showed my mother the actual ring. And then mysteriously after his death she started wearing a ring. But it was not the ring that she had shown my mother. It was a different ring.” Judy Duncan confirmed this story, telling The Daily Beast, “In the hospital she tried to tell me, ‘We’re engaged, see here’s a picture of my ring.’ If you’re engaged, would you flash a picture? Or would you be flashing your hand?”

Asked if the picture was of the same ring that Omarosa later wore, Duncan replied, “No it wasn’t.”

“And she lied, there was never an engagement. That was just a bald-faced lie. She used his death to elevate her own self.”

Andrea Weltman added, “The whole time Omarosa and I were together, from the morning he was transferred from Kaiser in Woodland Hills to Cedars, I saw no engagement ring that first morning, and no evidence subsequently—nothing on her hand. And when they went to Scotland, I didn’t get the 411 from him about that trip, but Omarosa claims he proposed to her there. That might be true, but again, I never saw a ring. And she made sure that it was front and center at the funeral, she had pictures taken of it.”

Jones is also adamant that his friend was not engaged. “He was seeing more than one woman,” he told The Daily Beast. “Duncan was never engaged. And we were going to take a trip to the Dominican Republic. He said man, if we go to the Dominican Republic, if I think once we come back that she’s the one, then I may consider that. But he said, we gotta go there just to make sure. Because he had other friends… Yeah, he had quite a few friends.”

“And she lied, there was never an engagement. That was just a bald-faced lie. She used his death to elevate her own self.”

Judy Duncan remembered a conversation with Michael Clarke Duncan that occurred in November or December 2011. She told The Daily Beast, “Michael said, Judy, I am not engaged, and I will get married when I am ready to. And at this time, I am not ready to marry anybody. That is what my brother told me. I don’t have to lie about it, because if he was engaged, I would just say well, ok, that’s his decision. But he was not engaged.”

“And also,” Duncan continued, “I believe in my heart that he was about to break up with her. And she knew it. Because he had talked to me about someone else. So when you’re this type of person, you will do whatever you can to get whatever you can before this ends. It’s like, ‘Ok, I know he’s about to get rid of me, let me work with my feminine wiles and anything else I got to get what I want before this changes.’ I think that’s what happened.”

As The Daily Beast previously reported, fellow Celebrity Apprentice star Claudia Jordan described Michael Clarke Duncan’s funeral as a “press opportunity.” Jordan told Wendy Williams in 2013, “I called a friend of mine after the funeral, I said this was a mockery of a funeral.”

Weltman echoed that assessment: “What Claudia Jordan said about the funeral was spot-on. It was a five-hour red carpet funeral. There was a red carpet leading into the chapel.”

“What I can say is that the family was not part of the planning,” she continued. “Omarosa did that all on her own. And there was an A-list parking lot, and then there was a B-list parking lot. So all the Tom Hanks, Frank Darabont-level folks, and the cast from Bones, they were all in the A parking lot. And people were actually discouraged from even thinking about parking there, when these were dear friends of Michael. There was a definite segregated feeling about the way she had it set up, and it all came from her.”

“I didn’t get to plan the funeral,” added Judy Duncan. “When I went to pick out flowers, she changed them. And that hurt me so much. Because this is my only brother.”

Claudia Jordan vs. Omarosa

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Omarosa’s seating arrangements put Kevin Jones, Michael Clarke Duncan’s dearest friend, in the twelfth row. “She put me in row 12 at the funeral!” Jones exclaimed. “I was the closest thing to him, even the people on the movie set that were there knew our relationship, and they couldn’t believe that. And I was a pallbearer! But I couldn’t even do that, because I was devastated. I was broken down. That was my true friend. I mean we talked five, six times a day. Just to see how she had everything built around her at the funeral, it was terrible. She made it all about her.”

“She really didn’t speak to us at the funeral,” Judy Duncan recalled. “As we were leaving from the supper after the funeral, she said, ‘Well I’ll be by to see you.’ She only said that for the sake of everybody else in the room. I never saw her again.”

Michael Clarke Duncan’s niece first heard about the updated will at the hospital, when Omarosa reassured various members of the family that they would be taken care of. “Something ended up happening where he took me out of the will,” Duncan’s niece told The Daily Beast. “There was a change when she came on the scene. And all of a sudden, she was getting way more than any and everybody. And that just sat wrong. She got some stuff that originally my oldest son should’ve had in the will. And also it was changed to the point where the will stated that if anybody in the will contested, they got nothing. Who writes that in a will?”

“As a family, we’re not trying to exploit his death for financial gain,” Duncan’s niece insisted. “We’re not trying to get ahead. It was just like, why would my uncle leave family things to a girlfriend? No matter what else she got, why personal things? She ended up having an estate sale and selling everything. My question is, where are all of our personal items that we had given him over the years? I have two children—you think I didn’t send school pictures? You think I didn’t write him letters? Those were things that we wanted. We don’t want the monetary things that she’s trying to make it seem like we want.”

Judy Duncan told The Daily Beast that, “The things that we asked for were not huge things. They were little things. I wanted a chair. My grandsons who loved him dearly, one wanted a couple of bottles of his cologne and a few watches. And I wanted any of his awards and a—he had been given this chair, it was an electric chair that someone made for him for the Green Mile—and I wanted these things for my mom’s room. And we weren’t given anything.”

“I kept trying to tell myself, Judy, these are material things, and the memories that you have of your brother from childhood no one can ever take. Hold on to those. So that’s what I do.”

Weltman, who has kept in touch with Duncan’s family since his passing, took issue with remarks that Omarosa had made blaming Duncan’s relatives and “family infighting” for his long-unmarked crypt. She recalled visiting Michael’s crypt 16 months after his interment, and being outraged to find that it was still unmarked. “Omarosa’s claim that Judy Duncan and family were responsible for writing tablet content for his crypt is untrue,” Weltman told The Daily Beast. “In fact, Judy had submitted the family’s wording choice for a memorial tablet but Omarosa ignored it and wound up writing her own.” Judy Duncan confirmed that, “I sent in what I would like to put on it, and I guess she didn’t want it. There was no quibbling, and we didn’t drag our feet about it.”

“Michael’s spirit got caught between an aggrieved family from the Midwest who did the best that they could, and this person who was out here, flitting around and, frankly, looking for her next opportunity. Omarosa was an opportunist, and she is to this day,” added Weltman. “My biggest sorrow was that I didn’t want Michael’s name and legacy to be permanently attached to hers. But as she’s moved on to other relationships, he’s sort of just fallen by the wayside.”

“People may say he’s been gone for six years already, but this is my family,” Duncan maintained. “And when there are unanswered questions, and it doesn’t seem like you’ll ever get the answers, it lingers.”

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