Charlotte Rae, who co-starred with Gary Coleman on TV's "Diff'rent Strokes" as Mrs. Garrett before moving on to her hit show "The Facts of Life," remembers the late star in the wake of his passing last Friday at the young age of 42.
"He was a phenomenon," she tells ET exclusively. "This little, tiny young kid -- smart, talented -- and the world just fell in love with him, and I did too."
After hearing the news that he had passed away on Friday, Charlotte says, "My heart became very heavy; I felt very sad. He was a beautiful soul."
"I wished I could be of service to him; I wished I could have helped him, but I felt I couldn't just rush in and do something, and I really felt helpless," she says of Gary's later, more turbulent years that often landed him in the tabloid headlines. "I didn't know what I could do to help his life have a better quality."
Although she hadn't seen Gary for years, she says he touched base with her about 10 years ago over a book that was being written about him. She says she invited him over to "dish and talk and connect." But although he agreed to visit her, "He never did. I would have loved it, because we had such a happy time together. He was so adorable."
Watch ET for more with Charlotte Rae and the late Gary Coleman.