I loved and will always love Gary Coleman. (No Solar).
He was the funniest, cutest kid and there was no way anyone could deny it. He had the timing, the acting chops and the ability to carry a network television show. In other hands Diff'rent Strokes would have been just a regular show and easily petered out after about two seasons. (Remember any episodes of Webster after year three? Didn't think so!). Don't get me wrong it wasn't like Coleman had nothing to work with - there were the writers, accomplished actors, Conrad Bain and Charlotte Rae and two capable kids working with him, Todd Bridges and Dana Plato - but not even all of their talents could have saved a show's premise that relied on suspension of disbelief and intelligence. Arnold and Willis didn't have any other Black relatives? No one else wanted them? Mr. Drummond was a tycoon whose heart was so pure that he was willing to take in his maid's kids while making his fortune in Real Estate? Shit, there was just him and Kimberly, did he really need a live in maid?
But Gary Coleman was the glue that held it altogether.
Not enough people give credit to the fact that Coleman was the biggest star at NBC. He carried the company. If it wasn't for him and his hit show, NBC would have had even less to brag about. He made the type of money that a star would make today - then (75,000) - and he earned it. His face was so fanmous that he was on lunch boxes, shirts and even had hi own cartoons where he voiced the character of an Angel. He couldn't be any bigger? Figuratively!
Rest In Peace Mr. Coleman you have earned it.