Friday, May 28, 2010

'Diff'rent Strokes' star Gary Coleman died today.

Gary Coleman, child star of the smash 1970s TV sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes", died Friday after suffering a brain hemorrhage. He was 42.

If you were watching TV back in 1979 it is quite likely that you enjoyed watching him in the program "Diff'rent Strokes" playing the character Arnold Jackson and his catch phrase "Whatchu talkin' 'bout Willis?"

The program debuted on NBC in 1978 and drew most of its laughs from Gary, then a tiny 10-year-old with sparkling eyes and perfect comic timing. Todd Bridges played Coleman's older brother, Willis, on the comedy program. Gary played the younger of two African-American brothers adopted by a wealthy white man. Race and class relations became topics on the show as much as the typical trials of growing up.

He was born Feb. 8, 1968, in Zion, Ill., near Chicago. His mother, said he had always been a ham. He acted in some commercials before he was signed by the production company that created "Diff'rent Strokes."

His family said he was absolutely enchanting, adorable, funny and filled with joy which he spread around to millions of people all over the world."

(Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press )

11-year-old Gary Coleman poses in a Padres baseball uniform during the making of a movie in San Diego on June 27, 1979.

He was plagued with health problems all of his life. His short stature added to his child-star charm but stemmed from a serious health problem, kidney failure. He got his first of at least two transplants at age 5 and required dialysis. Even as an adult, his height reached only 4 feet 8 inches.

His adult life was troubled with his inability to get new acting roles. His health was poor and he just never seemed to adjust to new situations, he felt that people were not willing to take him seriously once he became an adult. He had the reputation of remembering all of his lines and was said never to forget anything he learned.

I really like both of these photos of him because he looks happy and that is how I choose to remember him. He made so many people laugh at his antics and he still has many fans who hold fond memories of him. Consider me among them.

May he rest in peace.


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