Gary Coleman has died at 42, RadarOnline.com is first to report.
Coleman had been hospitalized in Provo, Utah since Wednesday, May 26, after suffering what his family called “a serious medical problem.”
As RadarOnline.com previously reported, Coleman had slipped into a coma and was on life support after suffering an intracranial hemorrhage.
He was pulled of life support Friday morning and later passed away. His wife Shannon Price and her father were at the hospital Friday.
The Illinois native’s death marks the end of a long, sad road for the diminutive Diff’rent Strokes star, who struggled professionally and financially as his fame and fortune diminished since the show went off the air in 1986.
Coleman’s growth was hampered at a young age by a congenital kidney disease caused by focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, as he never grew beyond 4 feet, 8 inches tall. Twice having undergone kidney transplants in 1973 and 1984, Coleman required daily dialysis in his everyday life.
Coleman got his break in acting when caught the eye of TV icon Norman Lear, which eventually paved the way for him to star in Diff’rent Strokes as Arnold Jackson, a wisecracking runt adopted with his brother Willis (Todd Bridges) by a rich New York businessman (Conrad Bain). Coleman’s considerable charisma — buoyed by his catchphrase “What’cu Talkin Bout Willis” — made the show a ratings winner in its’ first three years, as the young actor was earning as much as $70,000 an episode at its’ peak.
Coleman would wind up suing his parents in 1989 over missing money from his trust fund, and was awarded more than $1 million in 1993, but the money would not last, as he would wind up declaring bankruptcy six years later.
Coleman said in an appearance on Geraldo Rivera in 1993 that he had twice tried to overdose on sleeping pills.
Coleman got some publicity in later years when he threw his name in the hat of the circus that was California’s 2003 recall election, receiving more votes than other show biz candidates such as porn star Mary Carey and Gallagher, en route to an eighth overall finish to eventual winner Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Coleman’s death marks another sad chapter for the Diff’rent Strokes cast, as Bridges’ career was stunted by frequent drug incidents, while Dana Plato, who played Kimberly Drummond on the show, committed suicide via pill overdose in 1999. On a related note, Plato’s son, Tyler Lambert, fatally shot himself in May 2010, nearly eleven years to the day of his mother’s suicide.
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