Los Angeles: Diminutive former child actor Gary Coleman, known to millions as the star of hit sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes,” died on Friday after suffering a brain hemorrhage, his manager said.
Coleman, 42, had been on life support after being hospitalized at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center on Wednesday. He had slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness.
Coleman’s manager John Alcanter said Coleman died shortly after 12:00pm local time (1900 GMT) following a decision to discontinue life support.
In this 1980 file picture originally provided by NBC, Gary Coleman (left), playing Arnold, talks with Dana Plato, as Kimberly, and Todd Bridges, as Willis, in the “Small Claims” episode of “Diff’rent Strokes.”
“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,” Alcanter said in a statement.
“Thanks to everyone for their well wishing and support during this tragic time. Now that Gary has passed, we know he will be missed because of all the love and support shown in the past couple of days.
“Gary is now at peace and his memory will be kept in the hearts of those who were entertained by him throughout the years.”
Coleman achieved huge fame through his role as Arnold Jackson in hit show “Diff’rent Strokes,” which ran for eight years from 1978 to 1986.
He was best known for his character’s catchphrase -- “What’choo talkin’ ‘bout Willis?“ -- and earned an estimated $100,000 an episode, making him one of the highest paid performers in the entertainment industry at the time.
Despite the success of the show, Coleman remained mired in financial difficulties through his adult life, and he was never to emulate the success of his childhood acting career.
He sued his parents and former manager in 1989 after alleging they had siphoned nearly $1.3 million from a trust fund set up to manage his earnings from “Diff’rent Strokes.”
Although a judge ruled in his favor, Coleman was unable to put his finances on an even keel and declared bankruptcy in 1999.
Coleman had regularly hit the headlines in recent years because of his stormy marital life. Both Coleman and wife Shannon Price had been detained on separate incidents of domestic violence since they tied the knot in 2006.
Coleman’s family acknowledged the actor’s personal problems in a statement issued earlier on Friday, but said the former child star had no regrets about his entertainment career.
“In recent years Gary Coleman has had difficulties, not only with health issues, but also with his personal and public life,” the statement said.
“At times, it may not have been apparent, but he always has had fond memories of being an entertainer and appreciates his fans for all their support over the years.”
Coleman was not the only “Diff’rent Strokes” star who struggled to adjust after the show ended. Co-star Dana Plato, who played sister Kimberly Drummond in the show, died in 1999 aged 34 after taking an overdose of prescription medication. Her death was later ruled as a suicide. Tragically, Plato’s son Tyler Lambert committed suicide in the state of Oklahoma last month.
Todd Bridges, who played Arnold’s elder brother Willis in the show, fought cocaine addiction during the late 1980s. He was acquitted of attempted murder in a 1988 court case concerning the shooting of a drug dealer.