Born: 8 February 1968
Died: 28 May 2010
Birthplace: Zion, Illinois
Best known as: Short star of TV's Diff'rent Strokes
Gary Coleman was only 10 when he became a child star on the TV sitcom Diff'rent Strokes. He played Arnold Jackson, a cute and mischievous black child adopted by a wealthy white Manhattan family. The show ran from 1978-1986 and marked the high point of Coleman's career; movies like On the Right Track (1981) and Jimmy the Kid (1983) failed to make the little man a star on the big screen. (Coleman never grew taller than 4'8" due to a congenital kidney condition.) As he grew older, Coleman became something of a professional celebrity, capitalizing on his fame as a former child star who never quite grew up. He made a symbolic run for governor of California in 2003, entering a statewide recall race which eventually was won by another actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He continued to appear in the tabloids off and on, and died at the age of 42 after what was described as an intracranial hemorrhage. Coleman's other films include Fox Hunt (1996, with George Lazenby, of all people), the blaxploitation spoof Shafted (1999) and Church Ball (2006).
Coleman told the TV show Inside Edition in February 2008 that he had married Shannon Price on 28 August 2007. Coleman said he met Price, 22, on the set of Church Ball… Coleman’s siblings on Diff’rent Strokes were played by Todd Bridges (as Willis) and Dana Plato (as Kimberly); his adoptive father was played by Conrad Bain… “What you talkin’ about, Willis?” was Coleman’s popular phrase of exasperation on the show… On one particularly famous episode of Diff’rent Strokes, Arnold received a visit from First Lady Nancy Reagan.
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