Molly Shannon has claimed in a new interview that early in her career, she was sexually harassed by the late Diff’rent Strokes actor Gary Coleman.

Shannon first met Coleman because the actor was represented by her very first agent, Mark Randall. This occurred in 1987, the same year Shannon graduated from NYU’s Drama school, so Shannon was likely extremely excited to have secured talent representation and to meet a major sitcom star.

Randall told her she could meet Coleman if she wanted, which Shannon was extremely excited about as he was a massive star at the time. She said when he invited her up to his penthouse hotel room, she was first oblivious to his flirting because “I was a virgin, so I wasn’t even thinking about that,” she told Howard Stern.

Shannon said that their agent initially accompanied them up to the penthouse, but “we went into the room, and then Mark disappeared.” Shannon described Coleman as being initially friendly. “He was ‘Sit down!” Like it was very sweet. And then he was tickling me a little, and that.”

This behavior quickly turned into much more sexual advances that Shannon called “relentless.” She added, “So I push him off, then I would get off the bed, then he would bounce off the bed, jump, jump, jump, jump, and wrap himself around me, and then I would fling him off.”

The Other People star said due to Coleman’s height and size, “I didn’t feel physically threatened,” but she kept on having to fend him off to the point where ” Then I’m really getting out of breath because it was athletic and aerobic.” Shannon then reportedly locked herself in the bathroom, “and he sticks his hands under the door and he’s like ‘I can see you!'”

She eventually made it out of the hotel room, but reflected that “I wish I could have stood up for myself more.” While Shannon told this story with some degree of humor, it’s clear that it was still a harrowing experience that should have never happened.

Coleman passed away in 2010 at the age of 42 after experiencing an epidural hematoma from falling down a flight of stairs. His signature height was caused by a kidney disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, and he had to be on dialysis for all of his life because of the condition.

 

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