Saturday, May 29, 2010
Coleman was born in Zion, Illinois. He was adopted by Edmonia Sue, a nurse practitioner, and W.G. Coleman, a fork-lift operator. He suffered from a congenital kidney disease caused by focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (an autoimmune destruction and alteration of the kidney), which halted his growth at an early age, leading to a small stature (4 ft 8 in; 1.42 m) and a childlike appearance. He underwent two kidney transplants, one in 1973 and one in 1984, and required daily dialysis.
While best known for his role on Diff'rent Strokes, Coleman had appeared earlier on The Jeffersons and on Good Times as Penny's friend Gary. He also appeared in a 1978 pilot for a revival of The Little Rascals as Stymie.
Coleman was cast in the role of Arnold Jackson in the television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, portraying one of two young African-American brothers adopted by a wealthy Caucasian widower in Manhattan. The successful show was broadcast from 1978 to 1986.
Coleman became the most popular fixture of the show, enhanced by his character's catchphrase "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" At the height of his fame on Diff'rent Strokes, he earned as much as $100,000 per episode. A Biography Channel documentary estimated he was left with a quarter of the original amount after paying his parents, advisers, lawyers, and taxes. He later successfully sued his parents and his former advisers for misappropriation of his finances and was awarded $1.3 million.
Later character appearances
Coleman became a popular figure, starring in a number of feature films and made-for-TV movies including On the Right Track and The Kid with the Broken Halo. The latter eventually served as the basis for the Hanna-Barbera-produced animated series The Gary Coleman Show in 1982.
Candidacy for Governor of California
Coleman was a candidate for governor in the 2003 California recall election. This campaign was sponsored by the free newsweekly East Bay Express as a satirical comment on the recall. After Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy, Coleman stated that he would be voting for Schwarzenegger. Coleman placed 8th in a field of 135 candidates, receiving 14,242 votes.
Coleman is parodied in the hit 2003 Broadway musical Avenue Q, which won the 2004 Tony Award for best musical. A character presented as Coleman works as the superintendent of the apartment complex where the musical takes place. In the song, "It Sucks to be Me", he laments his fate. On Broadway, the role was originally played by Natalie Venetia Belcon.
The show's producers have said they originally considered asking Coleman himself to play the Gary Coleman role, and he expressed interest in doing so. However, he never showed up for a meeting scheduled to discuss it.
In 2005, Coleman announced his intention to sue the producers of Avenue Q for their depiction of him, although the lawsuit never materialized. At the 2007 New York Comic Con, Coleman said, "I wish there was a lawyer on Earth that would sue them for me."
The off-Broadway cast of Avenue Q announced that the May 28, 2010 show would be dedicated to Coleman, following his death. They released a statement saying, "The creators, producers, and company of Avenue Q are terribly saddened to hear of the death of Gary Coleman, whose tremendous gifts brought delight and inspiration to audiences around the world. While everything in life may be only for now, we suspect that Gary's legacy will live on for many years to come. Gary's memory will certainly endure in the hearts and minds of those of us who live on Avenue Q. When the show concludes tonight at 10pm at New World Stages, Danielle K. Thomas, who portrays Mr. Coleman in the musical, will pay a tribute to him from the stage."
Coleman secretly wed his girlfriend of five months, Shannon Price, 22, on August 28, 2007. They met on the set of the 2006 comedy film Church Ball. On May 1 and 2, 2008, Coleman and his wife appeared on the show Divorce Court to air their differences in front of Judge Lynn Toler. Unlike regular Divorce Court participants, they appeared on the show with the intent to save their marriage rather than adjudicate a separation.
In 1989, Coleman sued his parents and former business adviser over misappropriation of his $3.8 million trust fund. He won a $1,280,000 ruling on February 23, 1993. Coleman later filed for bankruptcy in 1999; he attributed his financial problems to mismanagement of his trust.
Coleman was charged with assault in 1998 after he punched a woman. He was working as a security guard, and bus driver Tracy Fields requested his autograph while he was shopping for a bulletproof vest in a California mall. The two argued about the autograph, and Fields mocked Coleman's lackluster career as an adult actor. Coleman testified that "I was getting scared, and she was getting ugly"; he said that he thought Fields was going to hit him, so he punched her. Coleman pleaded no contest and received a suspended sentence. He was also ordered to pay Fields $1,665 for hospital bills resulting from the fight.
Citation for disorderly conduct
On July 26, 2007, Coleman was cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct by a Provo, Utah, police officer after Coleman was seen having a "heated discussion" with his wife, Shannon Price.
On July 3, 2009, Coleman and his wife were involved in a domestic dispute in which Coleman's wife was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, and both parties were cited for disorderly conduct.
Coleman was involved in an automobile accident in Payson, Utah on September 6, 2008. According to Payson police, Coleman was backing up his truck in a Payson bowling alley parking lot when he allegedly hit 24-year-old Colt Rushton. According to a witness, the tire of Coleman's truck hit Rushton's knee and pulled him under the truck. Coleman's vehicle then hit another car. Rushton was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated and released with minor injuries. Police said Coleman's driving speed was not excessive. Witnesses told police the incident stemmed from an argument that started in the bowling alley after Rushton photographed Coleman. Coleman objected to Rushton taking his picture and the two men started arguing, according to witnesses. There was no citation or arrest for either man. Police said neither man would make a statement at the scene.
On December 2, 2008, Coleman pleaded no contest to charges of disorderly conduct and reckless driving. The court ordered him to pay a $100 fine for disorderly conduct. The reckless driving charge was to be waived in one year if Coleman did not commit any further violations. On January 14, 2010, Coleman settled a civil suit related to the incident for an undisclosed amount.
Domestic violence assault
On January 24, 2010, Coleman was arrested on a domestic violence assault warrant in Santaquin, Utah. Coleman was subsequently booked into the Utah County Jail and released on January 25, 2010.
Wikinews has related news: US actor Gary Coleman dies aged 42
On May 26, 2010, Coleman was admitted to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah, after falling and hitting his head and suffering an epidural hematoma at his home in Santaquin, Utah. He was announced to be in critical condition. According to a hospital spokesman, Coleman was 'conscious and lucid' on the morning of Thursday May 27, but his condition subsequently worsened. By mid-afternoon on May 27, 2010, Coleman was unconscious and on life support. He died at 12:05 p.m. MDT (18:05 UTC) on May 28, 2010.
The off-Broadway cast of Avenue Q dedicated the May 28, 2010, production of the show to Coleman, with Danielle K. Thomas, who portrays Coleman in the musical, paying tribute to him from the stage at the show's end. In the hours following his death, Gary Coleman's name became the top trending topic on social networking site Twitter. His catchphrase “What you talkin bout Willis” also made it on to the trending list as well.
Ranking Among Child Stars
United States Cable Television Channel VH1 rated Coleman first on a list of 'the 100 greatest child stars' on television.
Year Film Role Notes
1979 The Kid from Left Field Jackie Robinson "J.R." Cooper Television film
1980 Scout's Honor Joey Seymour Television film
1981 On the Right Track Lester
1982 The Kid with the Broken Halo Andy LeBeau Television film
Jimmy the Kid Jimmy
1983 The Kid with the 200 I.Q. Nick Newell Television film
1984 The Fantastic World of D.C. Collins D.C. Collins Television film
1985 Playing with Fire David Phillips Television film
1994 Party The Liar Short film
1996 Fox Hunt Murray Lipschitz, Jr.
1997 Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's Himself Documentary
1998 Dirty Work Cameo
Like Father, Like Santa Ignatius Television film
2000 The Flunky
2002 Frank McKlusky, C.I. Cameo
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Himself Cameo
A Carol Christmas Christmas Past Television film
2004 Chasing the Edge Cameo
Save Virgil Himself/The Devil
2005 A Christmas Too Many
2006 Church Ball
2008 An American Carol Bacon Stains Malone
2009 Midgets vs. Mascots Gary Last film appearance
First appeared in a commercial for Harris Bank. His line, after the announcer says "You should have a Harris banker" was "You should have a Hubert doll". "Hubert" was a stuffed lion representing the Harris bank logo.
The Jeffersons (1977, guest)
Good Times (1977, guest)
Diff'rent Strokes (1978–1986)
The Facts of Life (1980)
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (episode "The Cosmic Wizz-Kid", also has a cameo in a later episode)
The Gary Coleman Show (1982) (voice)
Amazing Stories (1986) Season 1: Episode 13 – "The Sitter"
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (guest) (as Arnold Jackson, with Conrad Bain as Phillip Drummond) (1996)
The Ben Stiller Show (1993) as himself
The Wayans Bros. (Pilot Episode: "Goop, Hair-It-Is" - January 11, 1995, guest; as himself)
The Simpsons, "Grift of the Magi" (December 19, 1999)
The Drew Carey Show, "What's Wrong with this Episode? IV" (March 28, 2001)
Drake and Josh (guest)
My Wife and Kids (guest)
The Jamie Foxx Show (guest as Cupid)
Married… with Children (guest)
The Surreal Life (guest)
Unscrewed with Martin Sargent (2003–2004, guest)
Simon & Simon, "Like Father, Like Son"
The Parkers as himself
Penn & Teller: Bullshit! "The Apocalypse" as himself (July 16, 2009, guest)