Gary Alan Coe, a.k.a. "Gary From Chicago" from Sunday night's Oscars ceremony, has had a crazy couple of days. As ABC Eyewitness News Chicago reports, the Windy City native served 20 years in prison, and was only released Friday, February 24. (Public records still list him as an inmate as of February 28.) Several outlets are reporting that the South Shore resident is a registered sex offender, but the cause of his incarceration remains unclear.
Public defender Karen Nash, who represented Coe in court, told The Chicago Tribune that she couldn't discuss the case, although she did tell the outlet Coe was "a very special human being." Nash shared a photo of herself and Coe on Facebook, though, with a sweet message for the once imprisoned man.
"I spent this afternoon laughing and crying with Gary and Vicky," she wrote. "For those of you who missed it — I spent years working on Gary's case. He got a life sentence for stealing perfume in 1997, and we finally won release this year. He got out on Friday, and was sight seeing with his lovely fiancé Vicky [sic]. If you watched the Oscars, you know the rest." She added the hashtag #GaryFromChicago, which circulated on Twitter after Coe's Oscars appearance.
In an exclusive interview, Coe told ABC that "change is possible."
He continued, "It's a sad day to be in prison for 20 years and not be able to be a dad, granddad to your children. You know what my son told me today, man, and I almost come to tears. He said he's proud of me. So to hear your children say that they're proud of me means the world to me."
He also told the outlet that he found his fiancée, the recently memed Vicky Vines, during his time in prison. The two were in Los Angeles Sunday on a tour bus that took a brief detour to the Dobly Theatre, where the sightseers rubbed elbows with Hollywood's finest. Vines and Coe met Denzel Washington, who pronounced them "husband and wife" that night. (The couple told ABC that they're still going to get married in an official ceremony.) Gary Alan Coe earned the title of "Gary From Chicago" after he name-checked his hometown, while Vines earned internet fame for her interaction with Ryan Gosling. Coe was released from prison on Friday, and a national figure by Sunday evening. Talk about a change of fate.