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Serious Allegations Made About the Last Days of Stan Lee

Before his death on Monday, Bleeding Cool had been covering a very difficult two years for Stan Lee following the death of his wife Joan Lee in 2017. There have been allegations of elder abuse, harassment, court proceedings, police involvement, and social media accounts. There has also been a variety of businesses using his name for a variety of reasons, with varying degrees of understanding of what Stan did and didn't know.

From our perspective, it began with an allegation by LA journalist, media personality and former friend of the Lee family, Alan Duke. Duke says he had learned that Joan Lee had been the subject of physical abuse, and that he had spoken to witnesses who claimed that this was as a result of action taken by their Stan and Joan's daughter JC Lee and that he called the police.

However, after police visited, no action was taken. Another explanation was given by the family and alleged witnesses did not repeat their story to the police. Accusations against Stan Lee from alleged nursing staff were sent to Duke and to the Daily Mail newspaper, though again, no further action was taken by authorities.

Stan Lee
Editorial credit: s_bukley /

As a result of this sequence of events, Stan Lee's then-business manager Max Anderson was ousted by JC Lee and Stan's new associate Keya Morgan. Morgan himself would later be ousted, with court order protections and allegations of elder abuse.

In a new podcast launched yesterday, Scandal: Stan Lee's World: His Real-Life Battle With Heroes With Villains. Alan Duke is using audio that he has recorded over a period of years with Stan Lee, JC Lee, Joan Lee and others. From this preview, it seems particularly damning of JC Lee. Duke states that he wanted the podcasts to get the LA Police to intervene in his life, but now Duke wants what he believes to be the truth to be known.

You can hear the first episode of his podcast here.

It begins,

This has been a very tough week. We've lost a friend. I've been planning to launch this series for months. Until Monday morning, it was to be called Saving Stan Lee — A Time for Heroes. But the time for heroes passed when Stan died.

My mission was to help my friend by convincing Los Angeles police, adult protective services, and others to do their jobs and protect him. I — and many others — hoped a judge would appoint a conservative — a neutral lawyer — to watch over this 95-year-old man who was legally blind and almost deaf.

But now my mission is to reveal the truth. Stan loved his fans and they loved him. They deserve to know what Stan's last years have been like. Who were the villains and who were the heroes? It is not easy to sort them out, but since I know them all, maybe I can help.

I've chosen a new name for the series — Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes and Villains.

I've kept these secrets for years out of respect for Stan and his wife Joan. They confided in me, even though I was a CNN reporter — but I never told. That changed last year when I saw something I could not ignore OR UNSEE. Photographs of severe bruises on Joan Lee — the queen of Stan Lee's Universe — the matriarch without whom we would have never known Spider-Man or any of his Super Hero siblings.

I took those to the LAPD with a list of witnesses they could interview. But It appears detectives never spoke to any witness not named Lee.

The podcast quotes the Lee's former asset manager Brad Herman alleging that he was there when JC Lee physically attacked her mother. Duke says he will post photos of the injury in later weeks.

Duke also runs audio from Stan Lee talking about his daughter's mental health in despairing terms, and from JC Lee herself saying during a heated conversation, "I am the talent, I am the f-cking talent."

There's also audio from Joan Lee talking about JC having many "suckers" around her. The quotes have clearly been cut and juxtaposed next to each other for dramatic impact.

Duke says he decided to run this information after hearing JC Lee promoting a character she was working on with her father called Dirtman on TMZ. Duke says that Stan rejected that project but Duke decided that if JC wasn't going to wait, then neither would he.

Duke also talks to Max Anderson, who Duke says was ousted due to people loyal to JC last February. Anderson and Duke talk about Stan's devotion to his wife. They allege a sequence of events after Max was ousted: Stan was surrounded by strangers and his phone was wiped of his contacts.

ALAN DUKE: One of the sad things to me about his last month is he really wasn't around very many people who he knew and was used to being around

MAX ANDERSON: He was around strangers, and that's what I'm saying Alan, he fed off the energy that people gave him

…and for him to be shut down and, you know, kept indoors and you know some people say that nobody stopped him from walking out. Well let me ask you this. He has a cell phone and all you gotta do is push the numbers to call somebody right? Well if you don't know the person's number how's he going to call? If he doesn't have good vision how can he drive?

You might have the means but he didn't know how to call people, everything he had before was programmed. All he had to do is this, Siri call Max, Siri call Mike and it will just call automatically. Well they wiped the song, it was no longer there. That ability, accessibility to do it was gone.

Anderson mentions that one of his old employees was working with the Lees. He is clearly talking about Jonathan Bolerjack. He notes that Stan had been travelling to Tokyo, Beijing, and Shanghai… and suddenly wasn't doing any of that anymore. And that Max's only satisfaction is that Stan is now with Joan again. He mentions how they often talked about the afterlife.

Brad Herman and Duke talk about JC Lee in very complimentary terms, noting her huge talent and knowledge when focused, as well as her physical beauty. They also talk about JC's sister, who died as an infant, as haunting all their lives.

Notably, Herman and Duke also mention the role that Joan Lee played in the success of Stan's career. This is also backed by someone I haven't heard from in a long time; Stan Lee's partner in Stan Lee Media, Peter F Paul who was convicted for securities fraud in his business dealings with Stan.

And Duke also interviews Keya Morgan, who talks in effusive terms about Stan Lee. Duke promised that he will go into the charges against Morgan in later episodes. This is one of a number of podcasts to come.

Bleeding Cool reached out to JC Lee and her representatives asking for comment. She tells Bleeding Cool.

Once I and my lawyer Kirk Schenck were able to remove the various men who sought to alienate me from my beloved father, and who were telling my father vicious lies about me and my life, I was able to spend the last 4 months at my father's side in which we fully reconciled all of the issues caused by those lies told to him. My father was about love, not hate. He was disgusted when he heard people were seeking to publish these tapes to taint his image."

In Stan's last in-person interview (with the Daily Beast) and in his October 6, 2018 Statement on this matter, my father was crystal clear: he disavowed all of these tapes and the statements there made under extreme duress and based on lies, and he implored the responsible media not to taint his legacy by publishing or discussing these hostage tapes.

Go to Page 2: Audio Recordings, plus a Statement from Jonathan Bolerjack

We were also reminded of this statement issued on behalf of Stan Lee to Bleeding Cool in October, saying,

…As I, and my late wife, told the LAPD, Adult Protective Services, and anyone else who wanted to hear the truth: my daughter JC Lee has never abused me or my wife or in any way, or assaulted me or my wife physically or otherwise.  Any statement otherwise is a lie invented by Morgan, or others who have over the years attempted to control me and distance me from my daughter and my trusted advisors.  I love JC and deeply care for her.  I apologize to those affected by any "hostage videos" that were released without my authorization. They are all based on lies.  These videos apparently exist and are now (still) being used by Morgan to continue to terrorize me, my family and the professionals who sought to protect us from unscrupulous people like Morgan.

… I respectfully ask all media outlets not mention, publish, or publicize any of the Morgan "hostage videos" or other recordings of me in my private life to protect my rights and the rights of the individuals referred to in those videos and recordings. I do not wish Morgan to have a continued voice in my life story. He has done enough damage already.

JC Lee and Stan Lee

Clearly, some audio is being used without the knowledge of the participants. I asked Alan Duke about privacy issues and he told me:

California is a two-party state which requires informing other parties if you are recording them in a setting where they would expect privacy. However, some of the audio was recorded in other states, which have less restrictive laws. I have been a journalist for four decades and I am very careful about those laws. Also, once someone is deceased, their privacy rights change.

I put it to Alan Duke that it was his original CNN article on Keya Morgan — which opens with the line "Keya Morgan sometimes sleeps with Abraham Lincoln's pocket watch clutched in his hand or with Marilyn Monroe's dress next to him" — that legitimised Morgan in many people's eyes, and that he introduced Morgan to the Lees in the first place. I asked if he had any regrets, Duke told me:

I think the CNN profile on Keya still stands. I am not sure what part of it you think was illegitimate.

I suggested that there now seems to be confusion regarding events surrounding the allegations made by nurses against Stan Lee. I asked how he now looked at his role in passing them to the police and to the Daily Mail. Duke told me.

that has been kept private by lawyers involved, but I did see communications that confirmed they were discussing it. I am not delving into the sex accusations yet, but there is the Chicago lawsuit pending. I am also aware of other negotiations underway concerning another allegation. I do not — and never have — made or shared any judgment on the legitimacy. I do expect to talk with those involved in the cases for future episodes.

With Stan's death, my focus moves from trying to "save" him, to helping the public understand what has been happening in his world. I always try to tell stories so that readers, viewers, and listeners learn from the mistakes and bad decisions of celebrities — so they can apply the lessons to their lives and families.

I will include analysis from professionals in coming episodes.

In response to the podcast, Jonathan Bolerjack issued the following statement to Bleeding Cool:

This is my 4th draft of my response to the Alan Duke podcast and more directly to Max Anderson. The previous drafts went from pure rage to a more clear-headed response and now arrive here at what will be the clearest way to put my thoughts down on paper….

My name is Jon Bolerjack and I am the "supposed friend" of Max Anderson who was "hired" by JC Lee to be with Stan. Let me very clear in establishing a few points that are not for debate.

First, he was not "surrounded by strangers". JC was obviously not a stranger and the nursing and security staff loved Stan in a way I found beautiful. In a previous draft I had a long-running paragraph to break it down into specifics but the best way to say it is they cried just as hard as me at the hospital, they held me just as tight, and I know we grieved the same loss and felt the same pain which tells me everything I need to know about those "strangers"

Second, we did not "Shut the doors on him". Stan didn't want to go out, in fact, he went out to lunch a few times at our insistence and he decided it was too hard for him. He just wanted to sit on his chair and stare at the pool thinking of his wife who he missed dearly. We kept him safe from every con man, leach and vulture that had abused him.

Third, as far as him being "remarkable for a 95-year-old man", he was. He was remarkable until the end, BUT he was still 95. He was a different man than the previous year (2017), our trip to Australia and Japan was amazing and Stan was amazing and that is true. What is left out, however, is January at ACE comic con. Stan had changed, his pace was much slower, he had much less energy, he had become 95. I saw it, everyone who worked closely with Stan saw it, even Max. The turning point for me had come long before this, what once had become a fun 'round the world adventure turned into a hazardous tale of unchecked power and bottomless greed. I'd wanted to leave it but couldn't leave Stan, he needed any help he could get, any break that I could give him, and longer rest before the never-ending wave of photos and autographs would again crash against his now mortal body. And it wasn't going to stop. There had been plans for Stan to go to Singapore, The Philippines, the middle east and Shanghai after that. It was going to kill him, and if you spoke up, made noise or got in the way of the machine, you were out.

I would take Stan home after shows, walk him to the door, and make sure he got inside safe. Then, in the last year, I would end the night with him trying to convince him to stop doing shows. He would say "I just don't have it in me, I just can't do it anymore. We could sign from the kitchen" And I would tell him he didn't have to do anything, he'd done enough. He'd tell me he was going to tell Max he was done, and "he was serious". But I knew I'd be back a week later to go to Kansas City, or Boston, or Hawaii, or Cincinnati, or Rhode Island, or wherever his masters wanted him to go….. and I would be there for him. When his minders would walk away from the autograph line id stop the line and say Stan said he wanted a break. When the photo line was an hour in and Stan was falling asleep while sitting, I'd stop the line and have him sit down and sleep. I did my best with what I had and most days I don't think it was enough and it kills me. So if you ever were waiting in line at photos and the line suddenly stopped for 20 minutes, that was me, that was Stan getting a break, and it wasn't enough.

After Keya Morgan was gone, I was called back by JC and I heard Stan say "tell "Hairspray" to get over here now" in the background, I came immediately to his side. I couldn't believe I'd gotten to see him again. He asked me to help him, he knew he needed it. My response was "Stan I'll help you under one condition: you never step foot on a comic convention floor again" and he smiled and agreed.

That was the last 6 months. I changed my work schedule and drove 45 minutes every day to Stan's house to see him (sometimes twice).  Did you see Stan at any shows? Did you see Stan in a state like he was a San Jose Comic Con? No, you didn't, and that's the point. Stan did signing at his home when he felt like it, and even that made people upset. They complained how slow it went, how long it took to get their items signed. Good, it meant I was doing my job.

Many people in Stan's life looked at him like property, someone took their Stan away and they wanted it back. Keya took Stan from Max, I took Stan from Keya and Max etc. But I didn't "take" anything. I gave a man his freedom back. Stan lived the end of his life on his terms, he did what he wanted every day. He saw who he wanted and didn't see who didn't want to. I feel a tremendous pride that his story ended on his terms and a tremendous sadness that I didn't do more sooner.

And so I end on this, be careful who you get information from. Everyone is going to paint themselves as the hero or the victim. My question to anyone playing those cards is simply this, who is vouching for you and your greatness? If it's a high profile Marvel variant cover artist who has received over 7 figures from the person they're vouching for, or a legendary DC artist and a Power Ranger who have spent approximately 5 of the most superficial minutes around Stan on a convention floor in the last 6 years, you may not be getting the full story. You may want to ask yourself why no one who actually worked with that person has made one statement in support for him…. ever. I still haven't seen any current or former Stan Lee Collectables employees saying how great their old boss treated Stan and the utter shame it was that he was ousted…. have you?

Go to Page 3: Commentary from Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane

Comic book creator Rob Liefeld and acquaintance of Stan, has also replied to some of the claims made, saying:

No, Stan was not surrounded by "strangers" in his final days. I met Jon Bolerjack when he was part of the extended crew that attended to Stan back in 2014-2015. Stan had a nickname for Jon, "Hairspray" due to his long, flowing hair. You've seen Jon attending Stan at a show even if you didn't know him, he looks like one of The Allman Brothers, he's skinny with long brown hair that goes down the middle of his back. He's quiet and doesn't immediately jump out to the fore, but he loved and adored Stan. After the Kia Morgan debacle, Jon was brought back into Stan's life with a greater capacity to watch over him and attend to him alongside the Security detail that remained in place. Jon kept Stan home and never compromised his health by putting him out into the public. Stan had a fun rapport with Jon, it was a shared affection built up over years. I called Jon the "Stan Whisperer" because it was Jon who would accompany Stan on the long flights back from China after others in the crew continued on with the trip, delivering Stan safely back to his home. It was Jon who would pick up Stan and drive him to all those many premieres you saw Stan attend along Hollywood Blvd. I saw Jon at Stan's side at a dozen Marvel films going back four years. 

Do not indulge in this nonsense about Stan being surrounded by strangers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let's continue to celebrate all Stan gave us and try to steer away from the drama and sensationalism.


And comic book creator Todd McFarlane told Bleeding Cool that he has known Jonathan for a decade, from various events involving Stan Lee:

probably the most decent person I saw in my time around Stan Lee. I could be completely wrong, but he was the only one I didn't feel had an agenda. everyone else had a slight or obvious agenda, he seemed to be the odd man out.

Todd also shared his own concerns.

You had a 95 years old man with a giant broken heart whose body was failing him. Here's the question, and it's one that's going to haunt me, how much of the reason that stan isn't with us is a broken heart, how much is it he was 95 and his body starting to fail him and how much was the cloud that was swirling above him that you and I have read, we're never going to know. It may be a bad analogy but it's the equivalent of someone passing away who you knew was a smoker or drank too much and always wonder how much any of that hastened it, we'll never know, did the cloud suck it away from him, weeks or months?

With a new episode from Alan Duke out every week, it looks like this will run and run.

Back to Page 1: Serious Allegations Made About the Last Days of Stan Lee


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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