by Jim Nintzel
Gary Coleman, the diminutive star of Diff'rent Strokes and onetime Tucsonan, died today at age 42. Details here.
I got a chance to interview Coleman a few years back when I wrote a story about the locally made Postal video game. He talked about how much fun he had firing automatic weapons in Tucson:
The game even features a celebrity appearance from former Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman. As part of his tasks, the Postal Dude has visit a mall to meet the diminutive celebrity.
"You have to get my autograph," says Coleman, an avid video-game player who enjoys Grand Theft Auto and Sim City. "You can get it one of two ways: you can get it without dying or you can get it with being bullet-riddled. Either way, there's going to be a huge gunfight in the middle of a mall, and either I kill the player and the game ends or the player kills me and he gets to go on to the rest of the days of the week."
Coleman, who has also provided his voice for the game Curse of Monkey Island, calls the chance to appear in a video game "really cool." He especially enjoyed traveling to Tucson over the summer so the Running with Scissors crew could make a videotape of him handling various high-caliber weaponry at a firing range. The footage can be seen on the gopostal.com Web site.
"I got to fire weaponry I'd never had a chance to fire before," says Coleman. "I really enjoyed the machine gun. Sometimes it's just fun to take a weapon and shoot at things and just see what kind of damage you can do."
Desi says the trip to the firing range "was fun, but it was a little dangerous at first, because I just wasn't sure," says Desi. "He's really small and some of these firearms are really powerful and have a helluva kick. We kept a close watch on him."