Gary Coleman–Farewell Arnold Jackson

Gary Coleman left us far too soon, dying yesterday of a brain aneurysm at age 42.

It all seems so arbitrary. Bret Michaels suffers a brain ailment and survives (thank God). Gary Coleman has one and does not.

I am genuinely saddened by this death. While I grew up watching “Different Strokes,” and did like it when Arnold Jackson said, “What chu talkin bout Willis,” my bond was with Gary Coleman, not his character.

As silly as this sounds, I admired him and Emmanuel Lewis of “Webster” fame for succeeding despite being very short. I was always one of the shortest kids in school, and it bothered me. Many women rejected in me in my younger years because of my height.

(Then I began making money, and shockingly enough they showed much more interest. They also stopped wearing underwear. It is funny how that works, but that is for another time.)

When I saw Gary Coleman succeeding in life despite his physical limitations, it inspired me. I always rooted for him.

Although television is not real life, Conrad Bain always seemed like a good guy. He played Mr. Drummond, and he seemed to have a genuine affection for all three child stars. He is now 87 years old, and two of his “children” have pre-deceased him. Mr. Coleman is gone at age 42, and Kimberly character Dana Plato died tragically at age 37. Ms. Plato’s son also died, a suicide at age 25. Todd Bridges went from Willis Jackson to a life of cocaine induced hell that included twice being charged with serious crimes involving death. He was acquitted on murder charges, and charges were dropped in another incident when the police accepted his explanation of self defense. He seems to have turned his life around.

Mr. Coleman had legal troubles of his own, but they were minor in comparison to that of Ms. Plato and Mr. Bridges. His issues were health related. His body was simply built with too many defects. It was not drugs or alcohol, but a bad body from birth that just rebelled one too many times.

Many people do not remember this, but in 2002 he was one of the many people running for governor of California during the recall election. As crazy as this sounds, he came across as very sensible. Given the state of California today, I doubt he could have done worse. He laughed on the campaign trail, admitting that he was not a serious candidate but enjoying having fun with it. Again, I was surprised at how logical some of his proposals seemed.

I hope that in heaven, the shortest star on television in the 1980s stands tall with his creator. I hope he ends up head and shoulders above the rest with happiness and health.

On Earth, I wish his family well.

What chu talkin bout Willis! Say it aint so!

Sadly, it is.

Goodbye Mr. Coleman. You left us way too soon.


2 Responses to “Gary Coleman–Farewell Arnold Jackson”

  1. Coleman’s was a tragic story. I’ve read quite a bit about him in the [ast couple of days. He was known to be a decent and smart guy, very well liked. But life just seemed to push him and push him to no end. Greed, by those around him, wrecked havoc on his fortunes, yet he was known as generous and unmaterialistic person. Failed and corrupt relationships plagued him, yet he was known as loyal and loving person. Fame left him misbegotten, reduced to a casual joke, yet fame never changed him personally. His story was the dark side of the American dream, yet he adored his country and people. He was a good human being.

    Goodbye Gary. I hope you’ve found the peace you deserve.


  2. Micky 2 says:

    Gary had his character flaws, his little tantrums, his bum luck. I watched a train wreck in slo mo as he depated adolescence and tried to establish himself in some sense of stability.
    It was like watching a new born Deer struggle to get its footing and run with the pack only to be slowly eaten by wolves before he ever got it down…


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