Gary Coleman died today from head injuries. He was 42.
At one time one of television’s most popular performers, Coleman struggled to find a place for himself after “Diff’rent Strokes” left the air. The show was about a wealthy single white father of a young girl who became the guardian for two black children. Coleman, who looked much younger than his real age due to kidney disease and its treatment, captivated audiences with his smart aleck-y bravado. The show was controversial for its patronizing portrayal of race and class differences but was a mainstream success and was selected by then-first lady Nancy Reagan for an appearance on behalf of her “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign, one of several “very special” episodes.
After the show ended, all three of the young stars had difficulties. Todd Bridges and Dana Plato both developed drug problems. Plato died of a drug overdose and her son recently committed suicide. Coleman sued his parents for taking the money he had earned. He had difficulty finding work. He filed for bankruptcy and was charged with assault.
May he find peace at last, and may his memory be a blessing.
Many thanks to Jennifer Kachler, Adam Donald, Daniel Sheppard, my homegirl Laine Kaplowitz, and everyone at the fabulous Bethesda Row Theatre .
Get ready to sizzle with “One Hot Summer,” the story of a beautiful Cuban-American lawyer who is torn between her husband and an old boyfriend as she and her two best friends try to follow their hearts to love and happiness. The cast includes Vanessa Marcil, Casper Van Dien, and Jon Seda.
I have copies to give away! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org telling me what you love most about summertime and you may be a winner.
NOTE: DVDs provided by the production company; all opinions are my own.
A thoughtful commenter named Richard S. Webster added some superb suggestions to the list I published for Memorial Day, and I wanted to post them for families to have as they salute the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces.
1. “The Sands of Iwo Jima” This film both shows the sacrifice and hardship involved in war but also the personal toll it takes on the men. [I would also add Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers” — NM]
2. “Bataan” War costs lives to win and this one does so in a hauntingly morose way.
3. “The Guns of Naverone” Perhaps the best behind the lines war film ever. The cast could never be duplicated.
4. “Battleground” Captures the suffering of the common soldier during the Battle of the Bulge.
5. “To Hell and Back” I love “Sergeant York” but Audie Murphy was even more extraordinary. [Note from NM: And the most decorated soldier of WWII plays himself in this story of his accomplishments.]
6. “From Here to Eternity” Captures the disorganization and problems the military had just prior to the onset of WW2.
7. “Flyboys” This extremely underrated WW1 film presents the American volunteer forces known as the Lafayette Escadrille who took to the skies early in WW1.
8. “We Were Soldiers” Despite many who will argue against this statement this is possibly the best Vietnam War film ever made. It certainly captures the feel of the early days of the war when America still had faith that we were doing the right thing.
9. “Midway” Realistically captures the most important naval battle in history…fought entirely in the air.
10. “The Court Marshall of Billy Mitchell” Your list has military court cases and here is one back at you but a better one and a real one. 16 years prior to WW2 Billy Mitchell realized what the Japanese plan of attack in the Pacific would be but nobody wanted to hear it…check this one out.