Former child actor Gary Coleman, famed for his role on the popular TV series Diff’rent Strokes, died today of a brain hemorrhage. Coleman was 42 years old.
According to the Associated Press, Coleman died at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center at 12:05 p.m., after he was taken off life support. Coleman was admitted to the hospital earlier in the week after falling and striking his head. He was described as lucid through Thursday afternoon, but soon slipped into unconsciousness.
Gary Coleman achieved national prominence at the age of 10 when he joined the cast of NBC’s Diff’rent Strokes as the charming Arnold Jackson. Because a congenital kidney condition had stunted his growth (Coleman was only 4 feet 8 inches tall), Coleman was able to play the part for eight years.
When Diff’rent Strokes was canceled in 1986 the child actor who made audiences the world over laugh with his popular catch phrase, “What’chu talkin’ ’bout Willis?” filed a lawsuit against his parents for stealing money from his trust funds. While Coleman won a $1.28M settlement in the case, it greatly hurt his relationship with his parents and was the beginning of a long stretch of bad publicity and tabloid scandal.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking moment in Coleman’s career came in 1999 when he was arrested for assault after getting into a fight with a woman over an autograph request. At the time, Coleman was working as a mall security guard. Another notable moment of publicity was Coleman’s run for governor of California in 2003 (an election eventually won by Arnold Schwarzenegger…go figure).
While he captured America’s heart during his youth, Coleman’s life also symbolized the difficulties that many Hollywood child actors face growing up in the limelight.
Coleman is survived by his wife, Shannon Price, and his parents. The entire Screen Rant staff would like to express our condolences.