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Gary Alan Coe, aka “Gary from Chicago” — a tourist unsuspectingly marched in front of the world at the 2017 Oscars — has had a roller-coaster year. “It was great for my family and friends to see me on the Oscars,” Coe, 60, tells THR. “But two days later, [the media] tried to make it something ugly.”
Coe, it turned out, was a registered sex offender who had been released from prison just three days earlier, after serving 20 years under California’s controversial three-strikes law — one strike for an attempted rape decades earlier.
“It was horrible,” he says of the ensuing media coverage. “I didn’t ask to be put on the Oscars. I was minding my own business, walking down the street. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy — that’s America for you.'” He adds, “And how about the way it’s come down? Look what happened to Harvey Weinstein! Come to find out that the people up in really high places are the ones we should’ve been watching, and not some poor little black guy that’s been locked away in prison for the last 20 years!”
Coe and his then-fiancee, who were “married” on the Oscars by Denzel Washington, broke up within a week of the show — he says the Oscar experience and the recent death of her twin brother caused strain — but he’s now engaged to another woman and living in Fresno, California.
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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