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Friends and Co-Stars Remember Gary Coleman

5/29/2010 8:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

TMZ spoke with several people who knew Gary Coleman. Here's what they said.

Remembering Gary Coleman

Charlotte Rae

“Gary was so loving, so charming … He was the big star of the show. He was the reason the show was a hit.”

— Charlotte Rae

Avenue Q

“On behalf of the Avenue Q family, we feel this is a great loss. In a way, we are with Gary Coleman everyday. His character on stage is humorous, but it also reflects great compassion and respects his place in the industry. In a small way, Gary is going to live on with the show.” — Steve Gabriel, producer “Avenue Q”

Traci Bingham

“The sudden passing of Gary Coleman comes to a great shock. I was fortunate to have the honorable pleasure to work with him. I got to know him during my experience on ‘The Surreal Life.’ The moment he walked onto the set, we instantly bonded. I found him to be incredibly funny, intelligent, loving and outgoing. He always had such a positive outlook on life and people! Gary will truly be missed by the world and he will forever live on in my heart!! Gary, i love you!”Xoxo Love always, Traci Bingham

Vanilla Ice

“I’m shocked and deeply saddened. He was a great guy, a legend – everyone knows Gary Coleman. We had a good time on ‘Surreal Life.’ I’ll always remember the time he and I had. He was fun to be around for the most part. Just a good, funny guy.”

— Vanilla Ice

Danny Cooksey

“I really looked up to Gary … I’d watch him and learn … We shot in front of a live audience … He took me under his wing … I learned a tremendous amount from him. I would go over to his house and look at his train set. He was really into trains and had a huge room dedicated to his trains, but I couldn’t touch them. They were only for looking – the trains were Gary’s baby … Gary also had the full-on arcade version of ‘Spy Hunter,’ which in 1985 was a big deal.” — Danny Cooksey, step-brother Sam on “Diff’rent Strokes.”

Midgets & Mascots

“He had a good heart. Underneath the exterior was a goodhearted guy.”

— Ron Carlson, Director of “Midgets Vs. Mascots”

Trishelle Cannatella

“This is awful. I’m really sad by the news. I’m praying for his wife.” — Trishelle Cannatella, “Surreal Life”


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Wow Vanilla Ice can't even write a proper statement. Leaving words out of his farewell to somebody, SMH.

1607 days ago


Anyone suspicious about the so called "fall" that precipitated his death?

1607 days ago


No body is saying how he fell or how far he fell or anything about it.
He was probably throwing another temper tantrum.

1607 days ago

Rachel Denise    

RIP Gary Coleman........Thank U for the many years of laughter.........God sent u here for a reason.....Ur job was well done.......many people don't realize the pressure of the media...all the negativitey surrounding ur life...being sick all of your life....dealing with having failed kidneys a transplant rejection of that organ and dialysis for the last almost 30 years...18 million dollars that u made as a star and then having nothing to show for it........because of human greed.....DAMN.......and no one to feel ur real shoulder to lean on.......just vulteers surrounding u.......just like Micheal Jackson..."F" I would be bitter too............but u tried to sustain and maintain as best u is a basic human need to feel loved and cared for and a part of........well the media did a fine job of making u feel always "less than".....just adding to ur already low self amazingly focused on ur negative and not so good moments.....never heard about one good thing u did after "Different Strokes"....but I sho heard about the bad.........people can be so cruel......I hope ur death does not go in vain...and people learn to "Love thy neightbor"......"If u see an old friend on the street remember his shoes could fit ur feet"...damn life can be so cruel........I am saddened at the ultimate outcome of the "Lil Guy" AMERICA so welcomed in their home every week....u helped lift so many peoples spirits with ur cuteness and funny ways.......then for them not to try and feel ur pain or be there for u when ur chips were down........I am ashamed and appauled....sometimes illness and medication reactions can trugger strange behavior/confusion/combativeness........hell ur kidneys were the nerve of people........Well I am giving u a standing ovation......."What u taking bout Willis"..Rest now my friend...Ur job was spectacularly done.....I Pray that U......"Rest in Enternal Peace Always"......Let Us Pray.

1606 days ago


Pretty sad that out of your tribute only two people appear to have known him well (Martha Ray and Danny Cooksey), and I'm sure neither of them talked to him much since he was a kid. His involvement in the Surreal Life was minor and Vanilla Ice was a complete jerk to him. He sued Avenue Q and I doubt the Midget group had anything to do with him when he was alive.

I don't know if TMZ just hasn't done its research, or if Gary's problems drove away so many people that these really are the best tributes we have. Disappointing either way.

1606 days ago



1606 days ago


Gary Coleman had so many trials and challenges in his life. That photo of him sitting alone in the airport is so sad. I'm glad he's now in a place where he's well and whole and won't be kicked around any more.

1606 days ago

GC Was Da Man    

The 'I fell' line is that old cliche that victims of abuse use when they don't want anyone to pry. I'd definitely like to hear what the real story was.

So what if there aren't closer people to Gary making statements. Would you do that if you were in mourning? They probably told the media to leave them the f#$@ alone so they can mourn in peace.

1606 days ago

Hugh Jass    

it was jes a "different stroke" that's all!

1606 days ago


I think Gary died an angry, bitter man, which is sad. Although he was lovable on "Different Strokes," he certainly had a truculent side to his persona, that I imagine drove myriad people away.

That is probably why more people aren't speaking out, at least not yet. May my favorite Lilliputian tyrant rest in peace.

1606 days ago


Stop the conspiracy; everyone isn't murdered. And due to his health all his life, he couldn't get life insurance.

Gary is in the top 5 all time child actor talents of all time:
Gary Coleman
Mickey Rooney
Shirley Temple
Ron Howard
Jodie Foster

People also say no one reached out to Gary, but he was EXTREMELY hostile to anything that had to do with Different Strokes. In one interview on E he said it was something he just wanted to forget.

The people on the show were very kind and sweet, but Gary said several times he was a loner and didn't like to be around a lot of people all the time.

I can understand the pain he had and his feelings but dont' blame it all on everyone else. Gary was rough to deal with. A great talent; one of the greatest. RIP; his friggin parents were the main cause of all this.

1606 days ago

my opinion    

The NASTY, MEAN comments that are being made are unnecessary, I have felt sadden for Gary while he was alive, he was extremely unhappy with his life.

So Sad!!!

RIP Gary



1606 days ago


Dear TMZ.... I don't mean to nitpick... I prefer it to say "In Memoriam..." instead of "In memory...". It's more formal and respectful.

1606 days ago


Hey Charlotte....God're next.

1606 days ago


Todd Bridges Knew Gary Coleman's "Junk"
Before meeting with Todd Bridges my initial feeling was, why on earth would I want to meet with that guy?
Well, the first thing I learned about Todd Bridges is that he is no relation to the Oscar winner, Jeff Bridges.
All jokes aside, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how nice and well-spoken Todd actually is.
Bridges has had a roller coaster life. Success and heartache.
Todd Bridges, the man who played Willis Jackson on the TV series "Diff'rent Strokes," offered his own insight into the trials of being a childhood star and shared his story of drug addiction.
He seems very humble, much unlike his fellow "Diff'rent Strokes" co-star Gary Coleman. Todd acts like a guy just happy to be alive, and for good reason.
As an actor of a hit show, the young Bridges was pulling in $30,000 a week. But by age 22 he was out of work. Then Bridges said he began selling drugs.
Specifically, he battled addictions to crystal meth and cocaine. "I hated myself," said the 44-year-old Bridges. "I hated the way I looked in the mirror.
Bridges' recent autobiography is "Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted."

Tom: I see you have a photo there from your wrestling days, are you still wrestling?
Bridges: "Yeah, I gave it up there for a while and now I'm getting back into it."
Tom: You did some boxing, too, any chance of doing that again?
Bridges: "No. But I did kick Vanilla Ice's ass." (Laughing)
Tom: How did you come with the idea for the new book?
Bridges: "The media wouldn't tell the real story so I wanted to put it in a book."
Tom: "You should have named it " Willis gets a second chance"
Bridges: "I hear that!"

Tom: Do you still talk to Gary Coleman?
Bridges: "No, I don't talk to him anymore".
Tom: Did you see his newest movie
Bridges: Oh yeah? "What's the name of it?"
Tom: You know The one that shows his junk, "Midgets vs Mascots"
Bridges: "You know that ain't real right?" ( laughing )
Tom: How would you know? ( laughing )
Bridges: Have you seen it? "You know that thing is fake!" (laughing)
Tom: Are you sure?
Bridges: "C'mon man Gary ain't got nothing like that, I mean that thing is touchin the ground!"( both laughing)
Gary Coleman responded: Whatyoutalkinbouttodd

Tom: So what's next for you? Do you have anything else in the works?
Bridges: "Just my book and my TV show other than that I'm just taking it easy."
Bridges: "The plan is to kick back with my kids and enjoy time with them."
Tom: I'm going to be on the Fox Morning show next week and the producer thought it would be fun if you did a call in.
Well it will be aired here about 8:30 eastern time so that would be 5:30 by you.
Bridges: "5:30?? There ain't no way I'm getting up at 5:30, sorry man." (laughing)
Tom: Do you blame Hollywood for what happened to you?
Bridges: "Can't blame Hollywood, it's not Hollywood -- those are choices that I made. The media always wants to blame Hollywood: 'Oh, it's because they threw you away,' and all this and that, but I can't blame Hollywood. ... I made some stupid choices; I made some horrible mistakes that cost me."
Tom: Well, I better let you run. I was great meeting you.
Bridges: You too man, Take care.

By: Tom Murro

Tags: Tom Murro, Todd Bridges, celebrity,gossip, books,Gary Coleman,

1606 days ago
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