Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rant #167: Being Seizured By the Plight Of Gary Coleman

I just read that actor Gary Coleman was rushed to the hospital after having a seizure. I also read that he is OK, and survived whatever he had.

I like Gary Coleman, always have. People forget that prior to hitting huge fame as the wise-cracking kid on "Different Strokes," he was on "Fernwood Tonight" as, what else, a wise-cracking kid with a big mouth, one that you would swear was a midget but was only a real kid.

I watched "Different Strokes"--yes, I admit it--during its run, and I have followed the horrible stories of the other young cast members, Todd Bridges and Dana Plato, as they made one tabloid headline after another. Bridges seems to be on the right road now, but as you know, Plato died a number of years ago as down on her luck as a former child star ever was.

Back to Coleman. I have followed his career since his TV fame with a wary eye. I know he sued his parents for money that they supposedly stole from him, I know that he has had run-ins with photographers and has had many bad business dealings.

I know that he has had an up and down marriage, and I know that he has made more negative headlines than positive ones during the past 20 years or so.

I also know that this guy has been on dialysis for heaven knows how many years. It stunted his growth, and may have affected him in other ways that we'll never know.

He seems to have become a frantic adult with many mood swings.

But he sure was a talented kid.

However, like most other former child stars, once they get older, the public gets less interested in them. Sure, there are exceptions, like Ron Howard, but generally, former child stars that continue to pursue careers in front of the camera in show business generally find that their past fame can only go so far.

Using Howard as an example, he is still pretty recognizable as an actor in his younger years, but he knew early on that this was not what he wanted to do as an adult, and moved behind the cameras as a director--and a successful one at that.

Coleman loves to be in front of the camera, but unfortunately, he is 41 now, and not 11. There isn't much work for a little guy like this.

But you know, I feel for him, I really do. I don't want him to end up like Plato, old and worn out way before her time.

If I were speaking to Coleman, I would tell him this: "Sure, your name can open doors, but only so far. Write, direct, produce, and you will demonstrate that a former child star can move on with his life ... and be successful ... ."

... rather than be the butt of jokes like he is now and has been since "Different Strokes" left the air.

C'mon Gary, we know you can do it.

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