Written by Erskin Quint
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Saturday, 29 May 2010

image for Diff'rent Stripes Star Coleman's Final Stroke of Bad Luck
A lady walks past a training area near The Beacon Ground, home of Hassocks FC, yesterday

Garry Coleman, 42, star of controversial US comedy Diff'rent Stripes - in which a rich Georgia Cotton-growing family adopt the black children of their former she-slave Beulah May (who has become a New Orleans burlesque star) - has died in a hospital in Slaughterville, Utah, after the latest in a series of strokes, writes Entertainment Editor, Lou Slipps.

The strokes - which began occuring soon after Coleman left the comedy series to try to forge an independent career in minor league basketball - all affected different parts of his body. This run of different strokes led to media bewilderment, as many people confused Garry Coleman with Gary Coleman, diminutive star of more famous US comedy series Diff'rent Strokes.

Diff'rent Stripes spokesman Herb Dumpfling said yesterday "This is a sad day for all who knew Garry Coleman. He was a true gentleman which is a rare thing in this day and age, and was always a rare commodity amid the cut and thrust of Hollywood.

"But at least now he is at peace, and we hope that the new publicity surrounding his demise will help to bring us some much-needed money. Also, it should nail once and for all the ridiculous confusion between Diff'rent Stripes and Diff'rent Strokes, and between Garry and Gary Coleman.

"Apart from the fact that they had names sounding the same, shows sounding the same with plots and themes pretty much identical, and they were both small black men who had many issues after they left the respective shows that pretty much defined their identities but in the end destroyed their lives - well, what's to confuse, really?"

Herb Dumpfling was interrupted by a call on his Blackberry. "Sorry, I've got to quit you. They've lost Garry's coffin. I know it's not very big but this is ridiculous!" And with that he was off, across the waving fields of alfalfa.

Garry Coleman was the son of British couple David Coleman, a white comedy sports commentator, and Gary Wilmot, a black comic singer. He inherited his tendency to fluff or forget his lines from his father David, whose hilarious, flawed sports announcements are legendary in the UK. From his mother, he inherited his lack of comic timing, side-splittingly bad singing voice, diminutive stature (Wilmot was only 4' 6"), colour and christian name.

Although he acknowledged these debts of inheritance, he did stake a claim for independence early in life by adding an extra 'r' to his first name.

Garry Coleman leaves behind a pet wombat called Willis, and a prized collection of matchday programmes from his favourite English soccer team, Hassocks of the Sussex County League Division One. He was a shareholder in the team's sponsor South Downs Nurseries, and had all his plantpots imported from there on a regular, if not quite obsessive, basis.

Controversy dogged Garry Coleman, after he left Diff'rent Stripes. It also dogged the show itself, which was always being criticised for seeking publicity and media attention by virtue of its similarities to Diff'rent Strokes.

It is widely feared that this will continue after Garry Coleman's death. Even now, it is anticipated, journalists and other scurrilous scribes will be penning articles and books that cynically exploit the similarities between, and consequent confusions of, the two shows and their stars.

But now, at least, Garry Coleman can rest in peace.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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