Gary Coleman Dead at 42

Actor slipped into a coma, put on life support at a Utah hospital after suffering a brain hemorrhage

By Olsen Ebright and Jennifer Dobner
|  Friday, May 28, 2010  |  Updated 4:09 PM PDT
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Family members and close friends were at his side when life support was terminated.

Family members and close friends were at his side when life support was terminated.

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Former child star Gary Coleman has died. The actor was 42.

Coleman slipped into a coma and was put on life support at a Utah hospital after suffering a brain hemorrhage Wednesday at his Santaquin home, 55 miles south of Salt Lake City.

On Friday afternoon, the hospital confirmed that Coleman had passed away.

Coleman died at approximately 12:05 p.m. Mountain Standard Time at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, said Media Manager Janet Frank of Intermountain Healthcare.

Family members and close friends were at his side when life support was terminated, said Frank in a statement.

Coleman's wife, Shannon Price, did not speak to media, but she did release a statement that was read by her brother Shawn Price.

"We are very grateful for all the wonderful support everyone has been extending to Gary's family. Thousands of e-mails have poured in to the hospital. This has been so comforting to the family to know how beloved he still is. Information as to his funeral arraignments, as well as information surrounding his passing, will be released shortly. Thank you for so much for all that you guys have done, and for the support and prayers that you guys have given us," Shawn Price said at a Friday afternoon news conference.

Shannon Price and Coleman met on the set of the 2006 comedy "Church Ball" and married in 2007.


Coleman's brother-in-law told gossip website TMZ.com that Coleman had injured his head during a fall. Coleman had two seizures that led to hospitalizations earlier this year and for decades has suffered from kidney disease nephritis that resulted in two kidney transplants and dialysis.

Coleman, with his sparkling eyes and perfect comic timing, became a star in the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," which debuted in 1978 and drew most of its laughs from the tiny 10-year-old.

He played the younger brother in a pair of African-American siblings adopted by a wealthy white man. Race and class relations became topics on the show as much as the typical trials of growing up.

Coleman was an immediate star, and his skeptical "Whatchu talkin' 'bout?" -- usually aimed at his brother, Willis -- became a catchphrase.

The series lasted six seasons on NBC and two on ABC and lives on thanks to DVDs and YouTube. But its equally enduring legacy became the former child stars' troubles in adulthood, including the 1999 suicide of Dana Plato, who played the boys' white, teenage sister.

Todd Bridges, who played Coleman's brother, was tried and acquitted of attempted murder.

Coleman had financial and legal problems in addition to continuing ill health. As an adult, his height reached only 4 feet 8 inches.

He continued to get credits for TV guest shots and other small roles over the years. But he told the AP in 2001 that he preferred earning money from celebrity endorsements. "Now that I'm 33, I can call the shots. ... And if anybody has a problem with that, I guess they don't have to work with me."

Coleman was among 135 candidates who ran in California's bizarre 2003 recall election to replace then-Gov. Gray Davis, whom voters ousted in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Coleman, who advocated drastic steps for California's faltering economy such as lowering income taxes and raising sales tax, came in eighth place with 12,488 votes, or 0.2 percent, just behind Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt.

Running for office gave him a chance to show another side of himself, he told The Associated Press at the time.

"This is really interesting and cool and I've been enjoying the heck out of it because I get to be intelligent, which is something I don't get to do very often," he said.

Coleman told The New York Times at the time that "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."

But legal disputes dogged him repeatedly. In 1989, when Coleman was 21, his mother filed a court request trying to gain control of her son's $6 million fortune, saying he was incapable of handling his affairs. He said the move "obviously stems from her frustration at not being able to control my life."

In a 1993 television interview, he said he had twice tried to kill himself by overdosing on pills.

He moved to Utah in fall 2005, and according to a tally in early 2010, officers were called to assist or intervene with Coleman more than 20 times in the following years. They included a call where Coleman said he had taken dozens of Oxycontin pills and "wanted to die."

In September 2008, a dustup with a fan at a Utah bowling alley led Coleman to plead no contest to disorderly conduct. The fan also sued him, claiming the actor punched him and ran into him with his truck.

Coleman was born Feb. 8, 1968, in Zion, Ill., near Chicago. His mother told Ebony his kidney disease was diagnosed when he was 2. He underwent his first transplant at age 5.

He attracted attention when he took part in some local fashion shows and people suggested he should get work performing in commercials, which he then did, she said.

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