The curse never seems to end for the kids from Diff’rent Strokes.
This week, the former Arnold Jackson is back in the news, as actor Gary Coleman is preparing to undergo relationship counseling with 22-year-old wife Shannon Price — after dealing with their stormy marriage in a taping of the reality-TV show Divorce Court. The episodes featuring Coleman will air on May 1 and 2.
Coleman, now 40, first met Price on the set of the 2006 comedy film Church Ball. They married in secret last August after dating for five months.
Divorce Court provided transcripts of the episodes to the Associated Press, which reported on their content. According to AP, the troubled couple discusses many issues with Judge Lynn Toler, such as Coleman’s alleged rage problems. “If he doesn’t get his way,” Price says of Coleman in the show, “he throws a temper tantrum like a five-year-old does. He, like, stomps the floor and yells ‘Meehhhh!’ and starts throwing stuff around. He bashes his head in the wall, too.”
In addition, she claims that Coleman would rather stay home and play with his train set than go out with her, although he often disappears from their home by himself in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. She also says that he has no friends and a negative attitude, which Coleman agrees is true.
“I don’t have any friends,” Coleman tells Judge Toler, “and don’t have any intention of making any. People will stab you in the back, mistreat you, talk about [you] behind your back, steal from you. And they’re not really your friends. [They’re] only there because you’re a celebrity or because they want to get something from you.”
Considering the course of his life, you can’t really blame Coleman for feeling that way about humanity. Although he was a household name during the ’80s and came to earn as much as $100,000 per episode of Diff’rent Strokes, his parents reportedly received most of the money. Since then, Gary Coleman’s acting career has struggled, and at one point, he had to work as a security guard to make ends meet. He filed for bankruptcy in 1999 and 2001.
In the meantime, his camp value to Generation X has made him a public joke. He has even voiced himself in self-parody on The Simpsons and Family Guy, although he also attempted to sue the producers of the Broadway musical Avenue Q regarding its character based on him.
Coleman has admitted that there was no sex in his marriage to Price. He told Us Weekly in February, “It’ll happen when it’ll happen, and it’ll happen for all the right reasons.” In describing his marriage life with Price as “mediocre” to Judge Toler, he concedes: “It’s not her fault. I always feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders every day I get up… there are days I don’t even want to get up.”
However, Coleman also claims that Price is partly to blame for the couple’s ugly fights. “When I try to state my case or explain things to her or try to get her to understand my point of view,” he says, “my point of view doesn’t matter.” He adds, “The male is always the bad guy.”
The four-foot-eight actor, who suffers from kidney disease and needs daily dialysis to live, became a star as the younger Jackson brother on Diff’rent Strokes, which ran from 1978 to 1986. Other TV credits from his youth include The Jeffersons, Good Times, and The Facts of Life. More recently, he has appeared in TV ads for CashCall, a cash-advance loan firm.
It’s true that Gary Coleman has had a lot of bad luck in life that wasn’t his fault. But let’s hope that he can learn to control the short temper he supposedly has — and work things out in his life and marriage. Click here for some advice on dealing with divorce-related anger.
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