Michael Clarke Duncan and Omarosa Manigault Newman were once the perfect couple to the press. But now the late actor’s relatives are claiming that the pair’s relationship wasn’t so rosy when the cameras weren’t around. They’re even hitting out at Newman in the hope that their side of the story will finally be heard.
By all accounts, Duncan had his family to thank for his film success. Originally a security guard by trade, Duncan was actually protecting celebrities such as Will Smith when his mom, Jean, convinced him to give acting a try. In a case of “mother knows best,” it proved to be a very smart decision for the budding star.
And while some actors take time to truly flourish, Duncan’s journey to stardom was relatively short. After making his first major film appearance in 1995’s Friday, in fact, he landed a much larger gig in Armageddon just three years later. Duncan’s performance in that film so impressed co-star and friend Bruce Willis that Willis recommended him for a part in smash hit The Green Mile.
Cast as the benevolent death-row inmate John Coffey, Duncan became the standout star in a film that also boasted Hollywood heavyweight Tom Hanks. And the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences evidently agreed, as it nominated Duncan for an Oscar in 2000.
Thanks to his new-found fame, Duncan then seemingly had little trouble finding further film parts. And roles in the likes of Daredevil and Sin City would help continue his time enjoying the Hollywood high life. But it would be in the unassuming aisles of Whole Foods where the star found his life really changing.
Yes, while shopping at the grocery chain in 2010, Duncan met Omarosa Manigault Newman. A former employee of the White House under Bill Clinton, she shot to fame in 2004 as a contestant on The Apprentice. Later Newman returned to politics, working for the Trump Administration between 2017 and 2018.
And after a few dates, Duncan and Newman fell head over heels for each other. “[Duncan is] the greatest guy I’ve ever been with,” Newman told Black Voices in 2010. “I’m madly in love.” The actor was similarly smitten too. “She’s very knowledgeable,” Duncan admitted to Hollywood Life the same year. “She’s the first woman that I can wake up next to and knows all about politics and what’s going on in the world.”
Others have seemingly found Newman more difficult to deal with, however. Following her turn on reality TV, for instance, Newman regularly hit out at her Apprentice co-stars. And Newman’s 2017 appearance on Good Morning America prompted host Robin Roberts to dismiss her with “Bye Felicia” – a slight fortuitously taken from Duncan’s debut film Friday. However, Duncan never publicly made any negative comments about his betrothed.
Sadly, though, the pair’s relationship was tragically cut short in July 2012 when the actor went into cardiac arrest. Though CPR administered by Newman herself managed to revive him, it ultimately wasn’t enough to save the 54-year-old. That’s because two months later, he passed away.
Naturally, Duncan’s death sent shockwaves throughout the celebrity world. And no one was more devastated than Newman, who – as it quickly came to light – had become engaged to the actor shortly before his death. “I am devastated,” she confessed to Radar Online. “He was the love of my life.”
However, following Duncan’s untimely death, loved ones began to suspect that there was a darker side to his relationship with Newman. Specifically, Duncan’s sibling, Judy, questioned whether the reality star had taken advantage of her brother’s ailing health to alter his will in her favor. She even hired a lawyer in 2013 to investigate the matter further.
Newman quickly rebuked the subject and had some harsh words of her own for her would-be sister-in-law. “I don’t control the estate or the finances, and [she] knows it,” she responded to TMZ. “If you saw all of her emails and texts to me, you would see that she is just trying to get money from me.”
But in the six years since Duncan’s passing, it seems that his sister hasn’t altered her view of Newman. “I still feel that way on all those things,” Judy admitted to the Daily Beast in September 2018. And with Newman detailing her last days with Duncan in her book Unhinged, the star’s sibling once again went on the warpath.
In response to Newman’s claim that Duncan’s heart attack was sudden, Judy argued that his health had already started to deteriorate six months prior. “The last time I saw [Duncan] was December of 2011 for Christmas,” she said. “And he seemed a bit off. And by off I mean, he wasn’t his natural, normal self.”
Moreover, Judy doubled down on her previous claims that Newman had exploited his poor health for financial gain. “I think anyone can be manipulated at any time,” she confided. “There was something going on, and I know it. So for him to have left her everything, there was some manipulation there.”
But it wasn’t just Judy Duncan who had words to say about Newman’s alleged behavior. In fact, the star’s niece and his old friend Kevin Jones – also speaking to the Daily Beast – made alarming claims of actions taken during Duncan’s final hours. These included barring acquaintances from seeing their dying friend, constantly talking about his will and even requesting his sperm.
Perhaps the most egregious allegation came from Duncan’s niece, who cast doubt on Newman’s claims that the couple were engaged. Speaking under anonymity, the family member reportedly said the reality star didn’t wear a ring until her fiancé’s funeral. She also alleged that she never even heard Duncan discuss their upcoming marriage. “I know my uncle. [Duncan] was not engaged,” she told the Daily Beast.
Newman has not taken these comments lying down, though. Within the pages of Newman’s book Unhinged, she painted Duncan’s family and friends as greedy, claiming that they “came out of the woodwork making demands for money and inheritance” following Duncan’s passing. However, the actor’s relatives hit out at this accusation. And they even countered, claiming that Newman’s alleged manipulation left those dearest to Duncan with almost nothing.
The actor’s relatives naturally hit back at this accusation. “I didn’t beg [Newman] for cars, I didn’t beg for houses, I didn’t beg for any of that,” Judy declared. However, she said she did ask for help for her mother’s fight with Alzheimer’s. “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 said.
At the time of writing, Newman hasn’t responded to these latest accusations. One thing is for certain, though: the disdain felt by Duncan’s family towards the TV personality and former White House staffer is real. “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?” quipped Judy Duncan. “I’m not a snake handler, so I stay away.”