May 28, 2010, - 3:27 pm
I always felt sorry for Gary Coleman, who died today, at age 42, from a brain hemorrhage. Does he deserve the publicity he’s now getting in death that he got in life and which true American heroes like John Finn will never get? No. But, sadly, this is America, where pop culture is king, and American valor is . . . who cares?
Coleman could never get away from his short height (induced by health conditions) or childhood fame and struggled to make a living because his finances were raped by selfish parents, agents, and advisors. I remember when he was harassed by the press and fans, while he was trying to make a living as a security guard and quickly lost his job. Yes, he punched some fans. But he caught no breaks. And to make ends meet, he had to make a series of embarrassing appearances with bimbos and others on TV and elsewhere, including dumb “exclusives” on “Entertainment Tonight.” Sad.
Hopefully, he can now be at peace.
As a kid in the ’80s, I watched “Diff’rent Strokes” as did my siblings and friends and we always liked the cute, diminutive character he played with attitude, Arnold Jackson Drummond, the adopted Black child of a White millionaire. On the show, he typically uttered his classic line, “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” At the time, the show about an inter-racial family was considered barrier-breaking. And the stars were invited to the Reagan White House.
But it seems there was a curse because every actor who played a sibling on that show has had serious problems. Dana Plato became pregnant and was fired from the show. She was a drug addict and starred in low budget porn films, then tried to hold up video stores for money. She died of an overdose, and just last week, her now-grown son committed suicide. We all know about Todd Bridges’ problems with drugs and criminal activity, which he now seems to have overcome. Coleman, though, could never overcome his continuing health problems which made him diminutive in height. He had two kidney transplants and constant dialysis. And while he wasted some of the $18 million that he’d amassed as a child star, a good deal of it was flat-out stolen by his parents and handlers.
So, it’s a sad and very public end to a sad and very public life. Now, he can finally get some peace and quiet. He wasn’t an American hero who fought and gave life or limb in battle. But he was entertaining and made us laugh for a brief time, back in the day.
Gary Coleman, Rest In Peace. Whatchoo Talkin’ Bout, Willis?
Tags: Dead, Death, dies, Diff'rent Strokes, Different Strokes, Gary Coleman