RIP Gary Coleman
- May 28, 2010 3:00 PM |
- By Lee Ferguson
Former child actor Gary Coleman has died after being hospitalized earlier this week with a head injury. He was 42.
Coleman is best remembered for playing motor-mouthed Arnold Jackson on the NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes from 1978 to 1986. With his adorable chubby cheeks, and impeccable comic timing, the actor proved an instant audience favourite in his role as a savvy Harlem kid adopted by wealthy white businessman Mr. Drummond (Canadian-born Conrad Bain).
At the height of his TV stardom, Coleman commanded a very grown-up salary (reportedly $100,000 per episode) and became forever linked to his trademark catchphrase - usually delivered to his onscreen brother (Todd Bridges) - "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
Behind the scenes, life was far less glamourous. Coleman suffered from congenital kidney disease, which stunted his growth and forced him to undergo two kidneys transplants (one of them during his stint on Diff'rent Strokes).
After his early success, movie offers rolled in, notably On the Right Track (1981). But like many adolescent actors, the precocious, sweet-faced Coleman had a difficult time transitioning to more adult roles. His rocky adolescence was well documented -- tabloids reported that Coleman's real-life adoptive parents had robbed him of much of the money he earned in his TV heyday. Together with his equally troubled Diff'rent Strokes co-stars, Dana Plato and Todd Bridges, he came to symbolize the horrible fate suffered by child stars.
A lot of his negative, post-fame experiences left Coleman embittered - in recent years, the actor made headlines for both disorderly conduct and domestic assault charges. Television appearances on The Surreal Life and The Insider suggested that the once-charming youngster had grown into an angry adult.
But to his fans, he'll always be that gifted, magnetic youngster, and we'll choose to remember him like this:
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