Diff’rent Strokes Actor Gary Coleman Dead at 42

  • Share
  • Read Later

Gary Coleman, 42, the diminutive Diff’rent Strokes actor and poster child for the latter-day troubles of kid stars, died Friday at a Provo, Utah hospital of a head injury caused by a fall, celebrity website TMZ.com reported.

Coleman had slipped into a coma and was on life support, hospital officials said earlier to ABC News. His wife, Shannon Price, had released a statement Thursday confirming Coleman’s illness and seeking prayers for her husband. She, and other friends and family, were at his side when he died.

The hospitalization had been only the latest in a series of health woes for Coleman. In February, latimes.com reported that he suffered a seizure on the set of the TV entertainment news show The Insider. He also was treated in January for a seizure in Los Angeles.

Known for his role as Arnold Jackson on the NBC sitcom with co-stars Todd Bridges and Dana Plato, his famous catchphrase whatchootalkin’bout, Willis? became part of the pop-culture lexicon during the the show’s run from 1978 to 1986. At the height of his fame, he reportedly commanded more than $100,000 per episode.

But after the show’s cancellation, the three became more famous for the problems they had dealing with life after child stardom: Coleman with his illness and court battles with his parents over mishandling of his multimillion dollar trust fund; Bridges with cocaine addiction and a murder accusation for which he was acquitted; and Plato with several run-ins with the law and an addiction to prescription medication, which led to her death in 1999.

Coleman endured several rough patches in later years, including an assault charge while working as a security guard, to which he pleaded no contest and was given a suspended sentence;  an arrest on suspicion of domestic violence against Price; and a bizarre short lived bid for governor of California, which was eventually won by another celebrity, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also suffered from a kidney ailment that required constant dialysis and has had two kidney transplants — once as a child, then another as a teenager. He was also known to avoid discussing his health problems publicly, for fear of strain on his acting career.

He met Price on the set of the film Church Ball and married her in 2007 after five months. But after a year, which included very public domestic disputes, the two appeared on Divorce Court before eventually reconciling. They had no children.

For a look back at the life of Gary Coleman, view TIME’s photo gallery.

0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest