Gary Coleman: A Great Actor Behind A Sad Story

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The actor Gary Coleman soared to stardom as the ‘cute’ little kid on the TV series ‘Diff’rent Strokes’.

Coleman was born with a congenital kidney disease which stunted his growth at an early age; as a result he was only 4′ 8″ tall. His height became his most distinguishing feature.

Coleman is most famous for playing Arnold Jackson on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, a US sitcom that ran from 1978 to 1985 and earned him, at its height, around $70,000 an episode.

During his time on the programme, he also took roles in TV movies and was the inspiration for the animated series ‘The Gary Coleman Show’. However, when ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ was cancelled in the mid-Eighties, Coleman’s popularity diminished.

Coleman sued his parents and manager over the misuse of his $8.3 million trust fund, and won $1,280,000 in February 1993. Despite this, Coleman had to file for bankruptcy in 1999 after his business ventures failed. Coleman was also famously charged with assault in November 2000 when he hit a woman whilst she tried to get his autograph.

In 2001, he took a job as a shopping mall security guard in Los Angeles. This job led to a cameo on ‘The Simpsons’ as himself (in security guard mode), after the video of a scam pulled on him by the paparazzi made him infamous.

Coleman stood as a candidate for Governor of California in the 2003 election, where Arnold Schwarzenegger was victorious. Coleman was however placed 8th in a field of 135 candidates, receiving 14,242 votes.

Later that year, he appeared in the video game ‘Postal 2’. In 2005, he appeared in WWE star John Cena’s music video for his single ‘Bad Bad Man’ in which Coleman played himself as a bad guy kidnapping 1980s pop stars such as Madonna and Michael Jackson. The music video was a spoof of 1980s culture.

In 2006, Coleman met younger actress Shannon Price on the set of the movie ‘Church Ball’ and they married in 2007. Unfortunately the marriage dissolved into domestic squabbles, which led to a court charge for domestic abuse.

They divorced in 2008 and Coleman moved to Utah. In 2009, he appeared in his last film ‘Midgets V Mascots’ before descending into poor health.

He underwent heart surgery, which was complicated by pneumonia, in autumn 2009. Coleman then suffered a heart seizure in February 2010 while performing on a Hollywood set. On 28 May 2010, he died of a brain haemorrhage after taking a fall at home at the age of 42.

A legal dispute emerged over whether or not Price had the authority to turn off Coleman’s life support machine but the case was closed on 5 October 2010 after a coroner ruled his death was ‘accidental’.

He was cremated in June 2010 but the disposition of the ashes has not yet occurred due to arguments about who inherits his estate as his last will was written before he married Price.

Culled from ‘LIFETIME’: http://www.lifetimetv.co.uk/biography/biography-gary-coleman