Before I get to my point, you’ll have to forgive me the OK Boomer lecture for a moment. You kids today, with your endless entertainment options and quality programming available 24/7, you have no idea how much you’ve got. There was a time we remember all too well. The early days of cable, when it was still mostly dominated by broadcast networks, supplemented a bit by MTV consisting only of music videos, ESPN showing bowling and lumberjack competitions, Atlanta Braves baseball, and no big -something else.
Which meant the traditional family sitcom could still be queen. And one adorable kid was able to straddle the pop culture landscape like a colossus. Even though he was barely four feet tall. I’m of course talking about Gary Coleman. And his show was Different shots. The show that launched so many slogans:
…as he did E! True Hollywood Stories about the tragic lives of its child stars.
And he absolutely perfected the art of the very special episode, with its legendary and infamous “Bicycle Man”, about a child molester, played by Gordon Jump from WKRP in Cincinnatiwho regretted having held the title role until the day of his death:
[Note: I can’t recommend this Funny or Die channel strongly enough. Every video is comedy gold.]
Well, Gary Coleman is no longer with us, having died in 2010 at the age of 42 due to complications from seizures. With it all in the background, here’s the ancient story SNL Cast member Molly Shannon just spoke to Howard Stern about meeting Coleman:
In case you can’t watch it:
People – Molly Shannon talks about a terrifying incident she had with the late Gary Coleman. …
At the time, Shannon had just signed with the Diff’rent star’s agent Strokes and was offered the chance to meet him. Shannon says she was invited to Coleman’s penthouse hotel room alongside their shared agent.
But the mood changed once the agent left Shannon alone with Coleman, she told Stern.
“I think he was like, ‘Sit down [on the bed].’ It was very nice,” she recalls. “And then he tickled me a bit. This and that.”
Shannon said she was “trying to be polite” to Coleman, pointing out that she was “virgin” at the time of the incident. But she told Stern Coleman that she continued to become more aggressive.
“He was relentless,” she continued. “Then he was like trying to kiss me and get on top and I was like, ‘No, Gary. Stopped. So I pushed him. Then I got out of bed. Then he bounced on the bed. Jump, jump, jump. And wrap around me. Then I rejected it. And then he went up. above me. I guess because of his size, I didn’t feel physically threatened. But… it went on and on.
Shannon continued, “…And then finally I threw it. I was really out of breath because it was athletic and aerobic.”
“He grabbed me on my leg and I was like [trying to] throw it,” she said. “And then I’m going to lock myself in the bathroom and then he puts his hands under the door.” And he’s like, ‘I can see you.'” …
“I wish I could have defended myself more,” she added.
Holy cats, this is terrifying. And it would be a horrible tragedy if it weren’t for the fact that Shannon is a grown woman and he was trying to move up a few weight classes. But still, when you’re defending yourself against a 100-pound ball of pure deranged sexual assault, it must be like fending off an attack from a wild animal. The way America’s favorite son of the 1980s kept coming after her looks like something particularly scary blurred area, where the cute doll turns out to be possessed or something and starts trying to murder everyone in the house. I shudder to think what would have happened if he had grown to the size of a normal adult human.
I mean, that would be appalling behavior from any celebrity. But of Arnold Drummond, it’s shocking beyond one’s ability to process. This kid won the People’s Choice Awards. It was on t-shirts and lunch boxes. He made product mentions. He featured First Lady Nancy Reagan on his show. And at no point during this phase has anyone looked at his adorably round features and sparkling eyes and thought, “I bet this kid is going to grow up to sexually assault an extremely talented virgin comedian.” Not one.
Let’s try not to let that ruin our opinion on the wisdom of letting kids be TV stars. Not all famous kids grow up with crippling mental and emotional issues. That’s about 99% of them, but not all of them. But speak to the wise. In case you find yourself alone with the former child star of a high-profile sitcom? Keep the pepper spray snug in your palm. And do your best to avoid the situation altogether. Thanks for the PSA, Molly Shannon: