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Gary Coleman's short -- very -- time as a Denver celebrity

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In the late '80s, after the oil-busted Denver economy had been bumping along the bottom for years, longtime Denver residents were fleeing this town in search of greener pastures (and Denver was so down, a blade of grass was looking pretty green). So when anyone new came to town -- particularly anyone with Hollywood ties, like the cast members of Dynasty, the prime-time soap opera allegedly set in this city, who'd occasionally drop in -- it was something to talk about.

Even if that celebrity was Gary Coleman.

In 1988, the pint-sized star of Diff'rent Strokes landed in Denver. And not just in Denver, but in Highlands Ranch, which had just been mocked in National Geographic for its suburban sameness. No question, Coleman stood out in his new hometown -- and not just because the mouthy kid who'd been adorable as the mouthy Arnold was now a full-grown man who stood only 4'8", and was one of the rare black faces in Highlands Ranch.

No, Coleman had also made the unlikely move of buying a model home dubbed "The Busy Woman's Dream House" because of all its labor-saving amenities, including a built-in vacuum system. It didn't seem an ideal fit for a former child star who was far from a busy woman, although he was looking for work in the security field. And in his spare time, Coleman worked at Caboose Hobbies, the classic train store on South Broadway,

But eventually, even the choo-choos lost their charm, and Coleman left Colorado.

On Friday, Coleman left the living entirely, taking this last, strange vestige of Colorado in the '80s with him.

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