Gary Coleman. Wow. We’ll let the rest of the world deal with the ups and downs of his life; here, we’ll focus on his towering achievements in the field of wondering what Willis was talking about.
And those achievements were legend. When it came to wondering what Willis was talking about, Gary Coleman was peerless. No one wondered what Willis was talking about more; no one came closer to finding out what Willis was talking about. It is fitting that the field’s premier research institution is named the Gary Coleman Center for What Willis Was Talking About Studies, one of the most productive and vibrant buildings at UCLA.
Many worry that Coleman’s death will set back the task of finding out what Willis was talking about by years, maybe even decades. Some think we may never find out. Me, I pledge to redouble my own efforts on the issue. And to inspire you to do the same, I’ve gone through my files and found five of Gary Coleman’s best celebrity moments, to add some laughter to your tears. With a little luck, we will someday find out what Willis was talking about. And Gary Coleman will see it, and he will smile.
#5: Gary Coleman, Boxer
Gary Coleman has the eye of the tiger! He’s got the aggression, he’s got the drive, he’s got the killer instinct. And, unfortunately, he’s got to fight former heavyweight champion Ken Norton. As you might expect, it doesn’t go too well.
This fight, by the way, comes from the movie Dirty Work, which stars Norm MacDonald. I don’t know exactly why this fight is part of the movie’s storyline, and I didn’t do any further research because I was afraid I might accidentally end up watching Norm MacDonald. So we’ll leave this one as “good enough as is” and move on.
#4: Gary Coleman, Politico
It was meant as a short guest spot; it turned into a major event in modern American history. First Lady Nancy Reagan, promoting her Just Say No campaign, films a guest appearance with Arnold Jackson and company. We now know, of course, that there’s a jumbo-size platter of irony in having Mrs. Reagan enlist the kids from “Diff’rent Strokes” to speak out against substance abuse – it would’ve been more believable if she’d gone on tour with the Grateful Dead – but at the time it was a pretty big coup.
Whatever your feelings about the drug war, you gotta admit, she got the goods on those drug-pushing grade schoolers pretty easily. All she did was stand in front of their class, and boom, here come like six confessions. This led to the effective but short-lived strategy of sending Nancy Reagan to every school in the country to root out the users. And it also inspired the best line of President Reagan’s reelection campaign: “Whatchu talkin’ bout, Walter Mondale?”
#3: Gary Coleman, Shadowy Flight Into the Dangerous World of a Man Who Does Not Exist
Of all the guest shots on “Diff’rent Strokes,” I hear the least about the “Knight Rider” crossover with David Hasselhoff and KITT – mostly because it’s so damn weird. Arnold and Dudley sneak onto the set of “Knight Rider” to see David Hasselhoff, and stow away inside a stunt car that’s about to be blown to smithereens. Strange, yes, but compared to the comedy lines these people
snorted before writing wrote for Hasselhoff and KITT, it makes all the sense in the world.
So in the “Diff’rent Strokes” universe, KITT is a real car that can talk? And he’s kind of a dick? And another thing: I don’t think anyone on “Knight Rider” ever actually called David Hasselhoff’s character “Knight Rider,” so why do it here like 80 times? (And why do I refer to “Diff’rent Strokes” as a “universe”?!?)
#2: Gary Coleman, Little T
Now we’re talking! The producers of “The A-Team” film an episode in Mr. Drummond’s penthouse pad, and Arnold, desperate to impress a girl, makes an ass of himself by dressing up like Mr. T. But the big man straightens everything out with a little straight talk, and convinces Arnold to table the label and wear his own brand.
Obviously, any show with T in it gets my vote, but this one’s especially fun: Dana Plato fawns over the (unseen and unheard) George Peppard, who tells her “move it kid, you’re in my chair.” T hoists Conrad Bain onto his shoulders, which is always good for a laugh. And we hear Gary Coleman say the line “I can’t get to first base with your cousin,” which is wild for so many reasons. Sadly, plans fell through for a Coleman appearance on “The A-Team,” with Arnold asking mob bosses and crooked cops what they were talking about.
#1: Gary Coleman, Pro Wrestler
Like T, Gary Coleman knew the ways of the wrestling ring. Here he is helping “That 70’s Guy” Mike Awesome against the evil Jeff Jarrett… for a while anyway.
Now let us go forth and do the work Gary Coleman left for us. Let us take the next step, and find out what Willis was talking about! Together! For the benefit of every one of us! Thank you! God bless you! And good night!