The good years had been over for a long time for actor Gary Coleman, well before he died suddenly last month at the age of 42.
As a child he was the beloved star of the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, with his adorable chubby cheeks and trademark catchphrase, “What you talkin’ about?” But adulthood was not kind to Coleman, who at one point worked as a mall security guard to pay his bills. He was plagued by health and personal problems, took on demeaning acting jobs (Midgets Vs. Mascots, anyone?) and was the butt of constant cruel jokes. And now, even in death he is being disrespected.
While a battle over his will- or wills?- ensues, Coleman has yet to be laid to rest. His estranged parents, Willie and Sue Coleman, want answers about his death. And his handlers (or possibly his wife-who -turned-out-to-be-an ex-wife) are shopping death photos of the star. Will it be possible for Gary Coleman to ever rest in peace?
Last week TMZ posted video of Coleman’s ex-wife, Shannon Price, explaining her decision to pull Coleman off of life support, saying if he had been kept alive he would have ended up “like Mohammad Ali”. Price also made comparisons to the Terri Schiavo case. Price also appeared on Good Morning America this week to tell her side of the story, saying that she and Coleman had made a mistake in divorcing and that they had planned to renew their vows.
But the latest in this tacky, tabloidy battle is the death photos that were taken of Coleman while he was dying in a Utah hospital. And according to TMZ, one of the photos was even taken after Coleman was taken off of life support. While it has not yet been verified exactly who is shopping the death photos to the media, it’s certainly the most disrespectful piece of this saga.
And according PopEater, the tabloid magazine The Globe has already purchased the photos of Gary Coleman on his deathbed– for the sum of $10,000. PopEater also reports that it was Shannon Price who sold the photos to the tabloid.
The controversy over Coleman’s will is another issue. According to People, Coleman’s most recent valid will was drawn in 1999. The executor is Coleman’s former manager, Dion Mial, who was apparently no longer a close friend of Coleman’s at the time of the star’s death.
Coleman’s 1999 will contained specific instructions on who would be allowed to attend his funeral (absolutely no press and no one with any “financial ties” to the actor). But Shannon Price claims she has a copy of a 2007 will that will override the 1999 will. So let the battle of the wills begin.
Meanwhile, Coleman’s one wish- to be cremated- has yet to come to fruition.