In death, Gary Coleman's life takes strange turns

Tue Jun 8, 2010 5:22pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Gary Coleman may have lived a life of strange and often sad twists, but in death his legacy seems to have taken even stranger turns.

Reports of death photos for sale, multiple wills, and a canceled funeral due to family bickering have added to the drama of a once promising child star on "Diff'rent Strokes" who peaked too soon and was never able to stage a successful comeback.

Yet, pop culture and Hollywood watchers say that the events are not so strange for people who find fame at a young age and crave it for the remainder of their lives after it's gone.

Richard Walter, a screenwriting professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television said Coleman is likely somewhere watching the drama unfold and enjoying "the fuss and bother" his death is causing.

"Wherever Gary is now, he would prefer this kind of attention rather than a quiet death," said Walter. "Throughout his life, he continued to crave the kind of attention he once had and was unable to close that chapter of his life and move on. Otherwise, why all the antics?"

For fans, however, it seems a sad ending for the 42-year-old actor whose life got off to bad start when he suffered a congenital kidney disease that halted his growth and led to two kidney transplants later in life.

Coleman found fame and riches as the diminutive star of hit sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" (1978-1986), but he had to sue his parents in 1989 after they had squandered much of his fortune.

Years later, he found himself working as a shopping mall security guard, and attempted to recapture his celebrity by running for California governor in a 2003 election.   Continued...