Gary Coleman

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Gary Coleman, who died May 28 at 42, was the quintessential '70s-'80s TV kid: a figure of exaggerated childishness (in his height and chubby cheeks) with a stand-up pro's confidence and timing. As Arnold Jackson on Diff'rent Strokes, he was resilient and sunny, but there was a canny and suspicious element to him ("Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?") that hinted he'd been through harder times. It was a savvy comic performance for a kid who started in the role at age 10. The show aired for eight seasons, and Coleman's appeal was the biggest reason for its longevity. Coleman, who suffered from a congenital kidney disease that limited his growth, was figuratively preserved in his fans' minds as that pudgy-faced kid. But he'll also be remembered for his well-publicized life as a former child actor, with everything that signifies in pop culture. When people remember him, they will inevitably remember what he lost. But it's also worth remembering what he had and what he gave his fans.