From Black Voices — The sad and fascinating saga of the late Gary Coleman continues unabated. Best known for his role as the lovable, smart mouthed “Arnold” on the television show “Diff’rent Strokes,” Coleman passed away last month of an intracranial brain hemorrhage, after an alleged fall in his home. He was taken off of life-support by his ex-wife, Shannon Price, and died instantly.
Though the pint-sized Coleman was a giant talent, with incredible success in his early years, his life post–”Diff’rent Strokes” was anything but. He suffered from numerous health problems, including seizures and kidney failure. Eventually he underwent a kidney transplant.
But this was just the tip of the iceberg, because his emotional conflicts dominated his adult life. After the cancellation of “Different Strokes” in 1986, Coleman was eternally viewed by the public as the 10-year-old “Arnold,” even though he was nearly 18 years old.
With Hollywood work not as plentiful as before, he turned to his trust fund, which was estimated to hold nearly $8.3 million. He was shocked to discover there was only $220,000 remaining. This resulted in a lawsuit against his parents, who were his managers, and his agent for misappropriation of his funds. He won the lawsuit but collected no more than $1.28 million.
Coleman was so devastated by the situation as well as the downward spiral of his professional and personal life that he became clinically depressed and admitted that he made several suicide attempts.
In addition to his depression, his adult life continued to be marred by anger, drug problems, failed relationships, a failed marriage, a domestic violence charge and financial problems. Like Michael Jackson who had a very troubled life and also met with an untimely death, Coleman will live on in our hearts as the adorable, witty “Arnold,” who immortalized the words “What you talkin’ about Willis?”
As with any tragedy, it would be a waste to not learn lessons that can help so many others.