A year after the death of actor Gary Coleman, the original manager of the child star reflects on Coleman’s too-short life and places blame for his death. Last year on May 28th 2010 the entertainment Industry lost arguably one of the great child actors of all time, Gary Coleman. Upon his death the media focused on his earnings, his wife, and a cavalry of friends who were demanding whatever property and earnings he had left. Former cast members of Different Strokes wasted no time appearing on national TV talk shows earning big fees condemning Gary’s parents for stealing Gary’s earnings. All of this rhetoric is being heard as Gary’s body has not even been buried or cremated.
This was not the proper and dignified manner to show respect for the magnificent talent the world TV and film audience knew in Gary Coleman. This was not the send off he deserved.
Unfortunately we learn of the great works and noble deeds of a person upon their death and at their memorial. Gary’s deeds and contributions to the entertainment industry and other endeavors were overshadowed by the desire of the media to stay focused on the misfortunes of his life and all the negatives.
Gary’s downfall was not entirely of his own doing. He had help. There exist within the film and television industry those who make up the body of the Peripheral Industry. The new age ‘life Coach’s to the stars” The managers’ and star consultants’ who have categorically destroyed the lives and careers of many performers. Gary Coleman was a victim of the Peripheral Industry, not of his parents.
On this the first anniversary of his death I have contacted the three major networks asking them to honor Gary, his 8 years on Different Strokes, his 7 movies of the week, his work as spokesman with the National Kidney foundation and the many charitable endeavors he gave of his time and effort to. The answer from the networks were; “Not interested’ ‘We don’t have any time’ and’ ‘we pass’. The late Brandon Tartikoff stated that Gary Coleman’s performances on Different Strokes made the difference for NBC to have one show in the top ten Nielsen ratings in the early 1980’s; Gary’s movie of the week “The Kid with The Broken Halo” registered as the highest rated movie of the week for NBC in 1984. Lucille Ball, Milton Berle and Bob Hope heralded Gary as a brilliant comedic actor. The networks and producers certainly benefited financially from the success of Gary Coleman and Diff Strokes.
Yet to praise his work, talent and his person is of little interest to them. Should Shannon Price (Gary’s ex wife) or Todd Bridges make a statement condemning the parents they are given Carte Blanche time in the press.
Have we lost our theatrical moral conscience?
When it comes to the passing of the late great child actor Gary Coleman and how we processed his death and avoided praising his contributions to the theatrical craft of acting, I say we have. Maybe we never had a theatrical moral conscience to begin with.
–Vic Perillo, former and first agent of Gary Coleman