Gary Coleman’s close friend Todd Bridges has revealed the dark, painful days the 4-foot-8 inch Diff’rent Strokes star suffered through while on the hit television show.
In an exclusive interview with RadarOnline.com, Bridges blamed Coleman’s parents for the actor’s often cantankerous behavior.
“He (Gary) never had time to find out who he was and be the kid he always should have been,” Bridges said.
“He was constantly being reminded of a show where you’ve had your worst times in your life – because when you’re gravely ill and rejecting a kidney, throwing up [and parents] forcing you to work.
“When you go on hiatus, you should be resting the whole time before the next season starts and your parents send you right out to start working on movies.”
Bridges, who rekindled his friendship with Coleman before his death, has been a vocal critic of Sue and Willie Coleman, who were estranged from the actor for 23 years.
Like the pint-sized actor, who sued his parents in 1989 for allegedly stealing his multimillion-dollar fortune, Bridges said he too believed the Colemans squandered their son’s millions.
“We have solid proof – everything is in the documents, look it up, go to court and look at the lawsuit, there is solid proof that his money was squandered,” Bridges said.
“If it is not solid proof then who did it?
“For eight years he made $18 million and when the show ended he had nothing. I guess no one squandered it, it just disappeared? It just got up and walked out of the bank?
“Somebody squandered it and if you’re the parents guess what? You’re responsible for it. You’re supposed to watch it – you’re the parents!”
The family spokesperson, Victor Perillo, has rejected Bridge’s account of the parent’s relationship with the son.
However Bridges insisted, “They destroyed a person, they did not give a child a fair shake in life to really be a good kid. I don’t have hatred in my heart for anybody, but I do have the truth.”
Bridges said as a teen and as an adult, he always wanted the best for the diminutive star — who played Arnold on the hit television series. Bridges was his on-screen brother, Willis.
“I’m just so happy that our relationship grew stronger. It made me feel good that we were able to talk again,” Bridges added.