Cryonics Lab, Family of Emmy-Winning Writer in Legal Battle Over His 2 Wills
A cryonics laboratory and the family of an award-winning television writer whose remains were frozen at the lab are locked in a dispute over millions of dollars in residuals from hit television shows, attorneys said.
The body of Richard C. Jones, a three-time Emmy Award-winning writer-producer who worked under the name Dick Clair, was frozen at Alcor Life Extension Laboratory in Riverside this week after he died of an AIDS-related illness, The San Bernardino Sun newspaper reported Friday.
The question of who will get payments from shows Jones worked on, including “The Carol Burnett Show” and “The Facts of Life,” is being disputed because Jones left two wills.
A document signed in 1987 gave the estimated $5 million to $20 million in residuals to Alcor. The other will, signed when Jones was on his deathbed, would require Alcor to split the money with Jones’ sister, nieces and nephews.
Attorneys for each side in the dispute said both documents will be taken to court.
“We’re going to file our will, they’re going to file theirs and the courts will have to decide which is valid,” said David B. Epstein, the attorney representing Alcor.
The court will be asked to determine whether Jones, 57, was mentally competent when he signed the changed will his family brought to his hospital bed Dec. 9. He died two days later at Sherman Oaks Community Hospital and his body was placed in storage at Alcor this week.
Believers in cryonics have their bodies or body parts frozen and stored in the hope they can be revived after a cure is found for the illness that killed them. Most scientists scoff at the notion.
Jones and partner Jenna McMahon wrote scripts for “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Facts of Life,” “Flo,” “It’s a Living” and “Mama’s Family.” Jones won three Emmys in the 1970s for writing for “The Carol Burnett Show,” and acted in several short-lived television comedy variety shows.
Additionally he was nominated for four other Emmys, two for the Burnett variety series and one each for a Shirley MacLaine special and the series “SOAP.”
The current assets of Jones’ estate, including his Toluca Lake home, are estimated at $1 million.