R.I.P. Gary Coleman: February 8, 1968 – May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman died today of a brain hemorrhage at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Utah. He was 42.

The following was reported by CNN:

“We are very sad to have to report Mr. Gary Coleman has passed away,” his spokesman, John Alcantar, said in a statement Friday afternoon. “He was removed from life support; soon thereafter, he passed quickly and peacefully. By Gary’s bedside were his wife and other close family members.”

Coleman was born on February 8, 1968, and raised in Zion, Illinois, near Chicago. He was adopted as an infant by Willie Coleman, a representative for a pharmaceutical company, and Sue Coleman, a nurse. By age 5, Coleman was modeling for retailer Montgomery Ward, a job that was followed by appearances in commercials for McDonald’s and Hallmark, according to a 1979 profile in People magazine.

Coleman was cast in the role of Arnold Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes from 1978 to 1986, portraying a child adopted by a wealthy widower.

Coleman became the icon of the show, most known 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. It is 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 ex-advisers for misappropriation of his finances and was awarded $1.3 million. But then he had to file for bankruptcy six years later.

Coleman lives 55 miles south of Salt Lake City in Santaquin, and has lived in Utah since 2005. He went there to star in the movie Church Ball. He met Shannon Price on the movie set and married her in 2007.

Coleman has had a lot of financial and legal issues, as well as ill health. Most of his health issues stem from a kidney disease he suffered as a child, and has had at least 2 kidney transplants and has ongoing dialysis. Last fall, Coleman had heart surgery that was complicated by pneumonia.

In February, Coleman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge related to an April 2009 domestic violence incident at his home.

I will do a tribute for Gary within the next week. But in the meantime, this is how I prefer to remember him:

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