09/05/2012 at 05:55 PM EDT
As Michael Clarke Duncan lay in the hospital after a heart attack
, those closest to him found reason to cling to the belief that he would survive.
None more so than his fiancé, Omarosa Manigault, who kept vigil
for more than a month.
"He fought, he fought really, really hard," their friend Holly Robinson Peete tells Access Hollywood.
. "I saw him open his eyes ... There were moments of hope. There was a lot of hope and [Manigault] was not giving up on him."
The pair, whose engagement was kept private, had planned to marry in Africa, according to Peete.
"She's doing as well as she can," Peete says, adding that Manigault has been busy planning a celebration of Duncan's life. "They loved each other so much ... They just had something really magical."
The Oscar-nominated star of The Green Mile died
on Monday at age 54. A public viewing of his casket is set for Sunday at the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries in Glendale, Calif. A private service also will be held on Sept. 10.