Gary Coleman, best known as the child star of the TV sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, has died after suffering an intracranial hemorrhage from a fall at his Utah home this week.
Life-support was terminated and Coleman, 42, died at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo early Friday afternoon, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
The actor had been admitted to a local hospital on Wednesday after the fall at his home in Santaquin, about 90 kilometres south of Salt Lake City.
He was transferred to the intensive care unit at Utah Valley Regional for further tests and treatment, but by Thursday afternoon his condition had worsened.
'I want to escape that legacy of Arnold Jackson. I'm someone more. It would be nice if the world thought of me as something more.'—Gary Coleman
On Friday morning, a hospital statement revealed that Coleman was unconscious and on life-support.
Coleman faced other medical emergencies earlier this year. He was briefly in hospital after collapsing in Los Angeles in January. In February, he suffered a seizure while filming an interview with celebrity magazine show The Insider.
Coleman, who had also battled depression, underwent heart surgery after complications from pneumonia last fall, according to his Utah lawyer, Randy Kester.
From childhood, the Illinois-born actor suffered from a congenital kidney ailment that halted his growth at an early age and resulted in his diminutive stature. He underwent at least two kidney transplants during his lifetime and also required dialysis.
Charming child actor
Coleman, who was adopted as a baby, was a charming child actor who made appearances in commercials and on TV shows like The Jeffersons and Good Times, but rose to fame as the wisecracking, mischievous Arnold Jackson of Diff'rent Strokes, a U.S. sitcom about two black orphans adopted by a wealthy white widower.
Diff'rent Strokes, which ran from 1978 through 1986, was a hit, and Coleman became a pop-culture fixture for his catchphrase "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" He also made cameo appearances in character for other shows, including The Facts of Life and Silver Spoons, and even had an eponymous Saturday-morning cartoon show.
The sitcom also became the source of financial conflict for Coleman: he eventually sued his parents and former advisers — successfully — for misappropriation of his finances, including the $100,000 US per episode he reportedly made at the height of his Diff'rent Strokes fame. The settlement he eventually received, however, was just a fraction of his original earnings.
The show also starred Todd Bridges as Willis Jackson, Dana Plato as Kimberly Drummond and Lethbridge, Alta.-born Conrad Bain as Philip Drummond.
All three of the young stars — Coleman, Bridges and Plato — had troubled lives after the show. Bridges battled cocaine addiction, though he has since turned his life around. Plato, who also struggled with drug addiction, ended up acting in pornographic films before committing suicide in 1999.
"It's unfortunate. It's a sad day," Bridges said Friday.
"It's sad that I'm the last kid alive from the show."
As he matured, Coleman had difficulty making the transition from child star to adult actor. He continued his performing career with occasional cameo roles on TV, small roles in some direct-to-video or DVD movies, and in advertisements, but he was also forced to take ordinary jobs, regularly working as a mall security guard and hobby shop employee.
He had multiple run-ins with police and was embroiled in legal battles in more recent years, facing a host of charges, including domestic disputes, disorderly conduct and reckless driving.
In 2003, he was among the 135 candidates who ran in the California recall election that ended with Arnold Schwarzenegger in office.
"I want to escape that legacy of Arnold Jackson. I'm someone more. It would be nice if the world thought of me as something more," he said at the time, in an interview with the New York Times.
Coleman is survived by his wife, Shannon Price, whom he married in 2007.