It’s sad to report that Gary Coleman, child star of US sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, has died at the age of 42 after a fall which led to an epidural hematoma, or blood clot on the brain.
Gary will forever be best remembered for his role as Arnold Jackson in Diff’rent Strokes, the young black orphan who was adopted by the rich white business man Philip Drummond. The show would never have been so popular, spanning 189 episodes and running from 1978 to 1986, if it were not for Arnold and his “Watchoo talkin’ about” catchphrase.
Gary Coleman was born in 1968 and was adopted at a young age. He was born with a congenital kidney disease which led two him having two kidney transplant operations, and which halted his growth, leaving him with a childlike appearance and only reaching a height of 4 feet 8 inches as an adult.
Whilst he was successful as a child actor, appearing in films and guest starring in shows such as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and even having his own cartoon series, his adult life was not quite so happy. He sued his parents for taking too much of his childhood earnings, but even though he won this case he still ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1999, and ended up taking a job as a security guard, a fact that was used by The Simpsons when he guest starred on that show.
He also had some run-ins with the police over the years, including assault charges when he punched a woman who asked for an autograph whilst he tried to buy a bulletproof vest (no, I’m not making that up, strange as it may sound) and domestic abuse charges against his wife Shannon Price. He also was involved in an incident where he ran over a man’s leg with his car in a car park after a dispute about the man taking photographs of him.
To end, here are some clips of Gary as Arnold in Diff’rent Strokes, just to bring back some good memories of one of the best child actors I can think of.