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'Gary From Chicago' Found God, Fiancee In Prison Before Oscars Spotlight

By Kelly Bauer | February 28, 2017 9:27am

CHICAGO — "Gary From Chicago" became a sensation at the Oscars — but he has the kind of story that could be a movie itself.

Gary, whose name is Gary Alan Coe, served more than 20 years in prison in California starting in 1994, according to state records. It was not immediately clear for what crimes Coe had been convicted.

During his time in prison, Coe became religious and fell in love with his fiancée, Vickie Vines, according to reports. Karen Nash, a public defender in California, posted on Facebook that she worked on Coe's case for years and he was released on Friday.

Coe, 59, was sightseeing with Vines on Hollywood Boulevard when someone asked if he wanted to go on a free tour, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The bus took Coe, Vines and other tourists to the Oscars, where the two became an instant sensation. Coe held out his phone to record the show and, after saying he and Vines were engaged, actor Denzel Washington pretend-married the two.

Vines herself became a hit as she met celebrities. Her encounter with actor Ryan Gosling quickly grew into a meme:

Vines said she and Coe would be getting married later this year.

"He's a really sweet, genuine, loving-type of dad. He's the best. I'm proud of him," Coe's daughter told the Tribune.