Viewers who tuned in to watch the Oscars Sunday night fell in love with an unsuspecting tourist who stole the show. But it appears that “Gary from Chicago” has a Hollywood script-worthy story of his own with a dark role in his past.
Gary Alan Coe, the everyman catapulted to social media fame, was released from prison two days before he was whisked to the front row of the Oscars. Coe was among a group of tourists who were led into the show during one of host Jimmy Kimmel’s gags.
Coe's public defender Karen Nash wrote in a Facebook post that he had served 20 years in prison for petty theft after being sentenced to life for stealing perfume in 1997. He was also convicted for attempted rape in 1995 when he was a teenager, which Nash claims led him to face a harsher sentence for the petty theft two years later.
"We finally won his release this year," Nash wrote. "He got out on Friday, and was sight seeing with his lovely fiance [sic] Vicky. If you watched the Oscars, you know the rest."
Further details surrounding Coe's conviction and sentencing weren't clear.
Nash did not immediately return NBC Chicago's request for comment. She told the Chicago Tribune she represented Coe but could not discuss his case without further permission.
Aside from the unforgettable best picture blunder, one of the most-talked about moments from Sunday night’s Oscars came from Coe and his fiancée, Vicki Mines, who stole the spotlight, and the hearts of viewers, in the middle of the show.
Coe was expected to recount his experience at the Oscars on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Monday night, but that appearance was later canceled. The Chicago Tribune reported a late-night show representative said it was a "creative decision" to focus on other topics.
Coe and Vicki Mines were riding a Hollywood tour bus when, in a prank led by Kimmel, they were unknowingly brought into the Dolby Theater during the live ceremony. The tour group had been told they were stopping to see an exhibit of Oscar dresses and gowns.
“In a way it’s true,” Kimmel told the crowd before the unsuspecting tourists arrived. “They will see dresses and gowns, but they will be on people. So, they don’t know it but the moment they open the door, they are going to be on live TV and we are going to surprise them.”
Needless to say, the Chicago couple was stunned when they walked in.
Coe, who led the group with his fiancée, was brought toward the front of the stage by Kimmel before he was asked to introduce himself, all while recording every moment with his iPhone that was covered in a bright purple case.
His fiancée quickly propped her cellphone on a selfie stick to record the moment as well.
The couple, as well as the hashtag #GaryFromChicago immediately became a top-trending topic across social media.
They ended up going home with much more than the memories captured on their cellphones. After the couple noted that they were planning on getting married in the summer, Kimmel asked Mines who her favorite actor was. She pointed to Denzel Washington, who was just an arms-length away.
Washington quickly jumped up, even offering to officiate an impromptu wedding ceremony.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife!” Washington proclaimed before posing for a selfie with the two.
Before they made their departure, Kimmel called on actress Jennifer Aniston, who was sitting a few rows away, to give the couple something of a souvenir to take home with them. She quickly rummaged through her purse to find something before offering up her sunglasses.