Gary Coleman R.I.P

May 30, 2010

Watchoo talkin’ about, Willis?

I’m talking about this:

Gary Coleman, star of American 80s TV show Different Strokes

I heard on Friday night that Gary Coleman had died of a brain haemorrhage, aged 42 as a result of a fall at his home.

I remember him as Arnold in Different Strokes, one of the great shows of the 80s, along with Soap, The Golden Girls and The Cosby Show. He was cheeky and had that catchphrase, which anyone who lived through that time as a child, or teenager would recognise immediately. In real life he was older than the character he played, but due to a kidney disease that stunted his growth, he looked much younger.

I didn’t hear much about him on this side of the pond after the show ended, except for the odd story about his various troubles, from court appearances to lost money to a stint as a security guard in a shopping mall (that’s a mall cop, yes?). Although we see and read a lot about how dangerous the world can be ‘out there,’ a lot of people meet their end in their own home through accidents. It’s sad to know that this was how it ended for him, but we can bow down to the God of this millennium called YouTube, because if you liked Different Strokes, you can see him in action again and again. And for the young ones, they can discover him for the first time.

I’ve heard about this so-called curse of Different Strokes and I’m sure he will be seen as another casualty, but curse or not, he’s still dead. Rest in Peace little man.



  1. How sad! Life is so precarious, we’re all just hanging by a thin thread.

  2. I’ll go way out on a limb and say I think acting on half-hour TV comedies (as they are done in the USA) puts child actors at risk. Almost all the bad endings I know for child actors have had this in common, while I have known plenty of children who acted in commercials and/or a couple of movies that are fine. Live weekly TV work involves long hours, isolated education with tutors, no social life in an ordinary sense and a rapid rise and fall in popularity. It’s hard for many adults to bear, let alone children. Gary never got back to normalcy. His (large but fleeting) TV fame as a child distorted everything that came after. Sad, but entirely avoidable tragedy.

    • There’s an old Music Hall song called Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington. I think what you have said here is a warning to all those pushy parents who wish for fame and fortune through their child, although it sounds like you could have a better experience in commercials and film.

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