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"It's sad that I'm the last kid alive from the show," Todd Bridges told the Associated Press about the death of his former Diff'rent Strokes costar Gary Coleman. Now, Bridges, 45, is opening up to Entertainment Tonight about the loss of his friend, who died on May 28 at the age of 42 after suffering a brain hemorrhage.
Subsequent revelations about the fact that Coleman was no longer married to wife Shannon Price -- who told a 911 operator she was "too stressed out" to help her ex when he fell and was the person who authorized hospital personnel to take him off life support -- have made his death that much more troubling.
But Bridges remembers the good times he had as onscreen brothers with a young Coleman. "We had an exceptional time as kids," recalls Bridges. "We always had fun in our dressing rooms, we'd always roller skate together around (the studio lot), we always hung out … we went to school together. He was a precocious, fun little kid that was very bright for his age."
But, it wasn't all happy reflections for Bridges during the interview. He also spoke about Coleman's tumultuous relationship with his parents and the matter of his finances. "(A friend of mine and I) have paperwork, and we'll bring it out soon, that will show what his wishes were and what he wanted," he explains, "There's a big fight going on with his parents and some other people involved, and after we bring this paperwork out, everybody's going to shut up."
Bridges claims Coleman was cheated out of $18 million he earned from their hit television show. "Gary had certain wishes (about his parents)," he said. "I'm not going to go against a dying man's wishes. There's a reason why he didn't speak to them for 23 years."
And Bridges -- who talked about Coleman's long-running struggles with his health ("Physically, he wasn't in great shape," Bridges explained. "He had a valve replaced, and people didn't know that.") -- saw his former costar's life as more tragic than joyous.
"Imagine having major health problems. Imagine getting ripped off of all your money. Imagine being raised in a household where he wasn't taught how to love himself or to love others around him," Bridges told Entertainment Tonight. "So when he hit the world at an adult age, he wasn't prepared."
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