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Gary Coleman

Gary Coleman, 2007
Born February 8, 1968 (1968-02-08) (age 42)
Zion, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Shannon Price-Coleman (2006–present)

Gary Wayne Coleman (born February 8, 1968) is an American actor, best known for his role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes (1978–1986).


Personal life

Coleman was born in Zion, Illinois. He was adopted by Edmonia Sue, a nurse practitioner, and W.G. Coleman, a fork-lift operator.[1] He suffers from a congenital kidney disease caused by focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (an autoimmune destruction and alteration of the kidney), which halted his growth at an early age, leading to a small stature (4 ft 8 in; 1.42 m). He has undergone two kidney transplants, one in 1973 and one in 1984, and requires daily dialysis.

Coleman secretly wed his girlfriend of five months, Shannon Price, 22, on August 28, 2007.[2] They met on the set of the 2006 comedy film Church Ball.

On May 1 and May 2, 2008, Coleman and his wife appeared on the show Divorce Court to air their differences in front of Judge Lynn Toler.[3] Uncharacteristically for Divorce Court participants, they appeared on the show with the intent to save their marriage rather than adjudicate a separation.

Coleman suffered a seizure on the set of The Insider on February 26, 2010. Dr. Drew Pinsky, who was with Coleman at the time, helped him until paramedics arrived. Coleman was reported to be in stable condition.[4]

Media appearances

While best known for his role on Diff'rent Strokes, he had appeared earlier on The Jeffersons, and on Good Times as Penny's friend Gary. He also appeared in a 1978 pilot for a revival of The Little Rascals as Stymie-this show was produced by Norman Lear, who coincidentally also produced The Jeffersons, and Good Times.

Diff'rent Strokes

Coleman was cast in the role of Arnold Jackson on Diff'rent Strokes, portraying a child adopted by a wealthy widower. The show was broadcast from 1978 to 1986, and was a huge success.

Coleman became the most popular fixture of the show (enhanced by his character's catchphrase "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?"). At the height of his fame on Diff'rent Strokes, he earned as much as $100,000 per episode. However, it is estimated he only received a quarter of that after paying his parents, advisers, lawyers, and taxes.[5] He later successfully sued his parents and his ex-advisers for misappropriation of his finances (see below).

Later character appearances

Coleman became a popular figure, starring in a number of feature films and made-for-TV movies including On the Right Track and The Kid with the Broken Halo. The latter eventually served as the basis for the Hanna-Barbera-produced animated series The Gary Coleman Show in 1982.

In 1979, Coleman appeared in two episodes of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century playing Hieronymous Fox, a child genius.

In 1990, Coleman appeared on an episode of 227 playing a mob boss (Season 5, Episode 17, "Knock It Off")

In 1994, Coleman appeared in an episode of Married... with Children, playing a building code inspector whom Al Bundy called to report an illegal driveway. (Season 8, Episode 16, "How Green Was My Apple")

In 1995, Coleman was featured as "Mad Dog No Good" on the television show Martin, in which he played an ex-convict whom Martin Lawrence helps to imprison. (Episode 74, "High Noon")

In 1996, Coleman played Arnold Jackson on the final episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He and Conrad Bain (as Mr. Drummond) were looking to buy the mansion from the Banks family.

In 1997, Coleman did voice work for The Curse of Monkey Island, the third installment in the Monkey Island series of comedy adventure games developed by LucasArts, as Kenny Falmouth, the lemon juice boy.

In 1999, Coleman played himself in an episode of The Simpsons titled "Grift of the Magi"; he also appeared in "Day of the Jackanapes" (Episode 235).

Coleman also played himself in the 2001 Scooby-Doo parody, Night of the Living Doo, produced by the Cartoon Network.

In 2001, Coleman was employed as a shopping mall security guard in the Los Angeles area. A surveillance video of Coleman trying to stop a vehicle from entering the mall while the driver ridiculed him was broadcast on numerous television shows.

Coleman played a supporting role in the controversial 2003 computer game Postal² by Running With Scissors, Inc. Coleman, who played himself, appeared at a shopping mall, and one of the game's objectives was to secure his autograph. Coleman's role was almost certainly based on a 1998 incident in which Coleman punched a fan who sought his autograph while he was at a shopping mall. Upon the player securing his autograph, police storm the mall to arrest him for an unknown crime, which leads to a violent shootout. Coleman was also featured prominently in the 2005 expansion pack to Postal², Apocalypse Weekend.

Coleman was featured in the 2004 season of The Surreal Life. He managed the restaurant at which the other cast members worked.

Coleman made a brief appearance on the Family Guy episode "Brian Goes Back to College".

During 2006 and 2007, Coleman appeared in commercials for a cash-advance loan company called CashCall. He ends the commercial by saying, "Pay your bills on time and everyone will love you." He even remarks in one commercial that "no one would lend [him] money, not even [his] relatives." and "What'choo talkin' 'bout, CashCall?" in another.

Appearances as himself

In 1993, Coleman appeared in the music video for the song Anywhere But Here, performed by the hard rock group Raging Slab.

Coleman played himself in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar John Cena's music video for "Bad Bad Man", this wasn't the first time he has appeared with a wrestler. At WCW Fall Brawl 2000 he took a guitar shot from Jeff Jarrett. Coleman was also featured in Kid Rock's video for "Cowboy", in which, appropriately garbed, he took on Rock's diminutive sidekick, Joe C.. Coleman also made an appearance in the Slum Village music video for "Climax".

Coleman made an appearance on E!'s short-lived celebrity dating show Star Dates, in which former celebrities went on blind dates with regular people. Other former celebrities who appeared on the show included Jimmie Walker (Good Times), Butch Patrick (The Munsters), Kim Fields (The Facts of Life) and Susan Olsen (The Brady Bunch).

Coleman also appeared in the Nickelodeon sitcom Drake & Josh. The two main characters were selling a product called the "Gary Coleman Grill" (a parody of the George Foreman Grill). At the end of the show, Coleman appears as himself.

Coleman made a cameo appearance in one episode of Disney's sitcom The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

Coleman made an appearance as himself in the TV show My Wife and Kids. He was one of Kady's boyfriends when Michael Kyle (Damon Wayans) was dreaming about what boys she would bring home. He said sarcastically 'Gary Coleman' and in the dream Kady brings Gary Coleman home.

Coleman appeared in two episodes of The Wayans Bros. as the celebrity spokesperson for "Goop Hair It Is" and as a delivery man.

In June 2005, VH-1 named Coleman No. 1 on its list of the Top 100 Child Stars Ever.

He appeared on the game show Russian Roulette for the benefit of a railroad society.

In An American Carol, he played himself in an alternate reality, where he worked as a slave on an Alabama plantation. In 2009, he also appeared in an episode of Nitro Circus.

On July 16, 2009, Coleman was briefly featured in an episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!. Penn & Teller were told that the earth will be destroyed by a "Brown Dwarf Star", so Penn asked Coleman directly "You're not going to destroy the Earth in 2012, are you?" to which Coleman replied "Yes" while signing autographs on the set. Shortly after, Coleman is depicted as an oversized monster attacking Penn & Teller.

Avenue Q

Coleman is parodied in the hit 2003 Broadway musical, Avenue Q, which won the 2004 Tony Award for best musical. A character presented as Coleman works as the superintendent of the apartment complex where the musical takes place. In the song, "It Sucks to be Me", he laments his fate.

On Broadway, the role was originally played by Natalie Venetia Belcon.

In 2005, Coleman announced his intention to sue the producers of Avenue Q for their depiction of him, although as of 2009 the lawsuit has not materialized. At the 2007 New York Comic Con, Coleman said, "I wish there was a lawyer on Earth that would sue them for me."[6]

Legal struggles

Financial matters

In 1989, Coleman sued his parents and former manager over misappropriation of his $3.8 million trust fund.[7] He won a $1,280,000 ruling on February 23, 1993.[8] Coleman later filed for bankruptcy in 1999; he attributed his financial problems to mismanagement of his trust.[9]


Coleman was charged with assault in 1998 after he punched a woman. Coleman had been working as a security guard, and bus driver Tracy Fields requested his autograph while he was shopping for a bulletproof vest in a California mall. The two argued about the autograph, wherein Fields mocked Coleman's lackluster career as an adult actor. Coleman testified that "I was getting scared, and she was getting ugly"; he said that he thought Fields was going to hit him, so he punched her. Coleman pleaded no contest and received a suspended sentence. He was also ordered to pay Fields $1,665 for hospital bills resulting from the fight.[10] The incident was later parodied on Chappelle's Show.

Citation for disorderly conduct

On July 26, 2007, Coleman was cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct by a Provo, Utah, police officer after he was seen having a "heated discussion" with his wife, Shannon Price.[11][12]

On July 3, 2009, Coleman and his wife were involved in a domestic dispute where Coleman's wife was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, and both parties were cited for disorderly conduct.[13]

Divorce Court

Coleman and his wife, Shannon Price, appeared on TV's Divorce Court on May 1 and May 2, 2008, due to marital difficulties.

Automobile accident

Coleman was involved in an automobile accident in Payson, Utah on September 6, 2008. According to Payson police, Coleman was backing up his truck in a Payson bowling alley parking lot when he allegedly hit 24-year-old Colt Rushton. According to a witness, the tire of Coleman's truck hit Rushton's knee and pulled him under the truck. Coleman's vehicle then hit another car. Rushton was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released with minor injuries. Police said Coleman's driving speed was not excessive. Witnesses told police the incident stemmed from an argument that started in the bowling alley, after Rushton photographed Coleman. Coleman objected to Rushton taking his picture and the two men started arguing, according to witnesses. There was no citation or arrest for either man. Police said neither man would make a statement at the scene.[14][15]

On December 2, 2008, Coleman pleaded no contest to charges of disorderly conduct and reckless driving. The court ordered him to pay a $100 fine for disorderly conduct. The reckless driving charge will be waived in one year if Coleman does not commit any further violations. On January 14, 2010, Coleman settled a civil suit related to the incident for an undisclosed amount.[16][17][18]

Domestic violence assault

On January 24, 2010, Coleman was arrested on a domestic violence assault warrant in Santaquin, Utah. Coleman was subsequently booked into the Utah County Jail[19] and released on January 25, 2010.[20]

Candidate for Governor of California

Coleman was a candidate for governor in the 2003 California recall election. This campaign was sponsored by the free newsweekly the East Bay Express as a satirical comment on the recall. After Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy, Coleman stated that he would be voting for Schwarzenegger. Coleman placed 8th in a field of 135 candidates, receiving 14,242 votes.



Year Film Notes
1980 Scout's Honor [1]
1981 On the Right Track
1982 Jimmy the Kid
1983 The Kid with the 200 I.Q.
1985 Playing with Fire
1994 Party Short subject; Coleman was also associate producer
S.F.W. Cameo
1996 Fox Hunt
1997 Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's Documentary
1998 Dirty Work Cameo
1998 Like Father, Like Santa Elf Supervisor
2000 The Flunky
2002 Frank McKlusky, C.I. Cameo
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Cameo
2004 Chasing the Edge Cameo; short subject
Save Virgil Short subject
2005 A Christmas Too Many
2006 Church Ball
2008 An American Carol
2009 Midgets vs. Mascots As himself

Television work


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Coleman says he's secretly been married". Associated Press. February 12, 2008. 
  3. ^ Sandy Cohen (April 25, 2008). "Newlywed Gary Coleman brings marital woes to `Divorce Court'". Daily News. 
  4. ^ Ken Lee (February 26, 2010). "Gary Coleman hospitalized after another seizure". Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  5. ^ "[Behind the Sitcom Scandals]". Biography Channel. April 15, 2008.
  6. ^ YouTube - Gary Coleman - New York Comic Con 2007 -
  7. ^ Former Child Star Central
  8. ^ "Actor Gary Coleman wins $1.3 million in suit against his parents and ex-adviser", Jet, March 15, 1993.
  9. ^ "Former Child Star Gary Coleman Files For Bankruptcy", Jet, September 6, 1999.
  10. ^ "Coleman pleads no contest to disturbing the peace and receives 90-day suspended sentence", Court TV Online, February 4, 1999.
  11. ^ "Diff'rent Strokes' star Coleman cited for disorderly conduct in Utah County", Fox News, July 31, 2007.
  12. ^ "Gary Coleman reveals Secret Marriage", Inside Edition, February 12, 2008.
  13. ^ "Gary Coleman's wife arrested for domestic violence", Daily Herald, August 12, 2009.
  14. ^ "Man run over by former child star in Payson", KSL-TV, September 6, 2008.
  15. ^ "Payson police say no one's talking in Coleman incident ", Deseret News, September 8, 2008.
  16. ^ "Coleman Pleads No Contest to Disorderly Conduct", The New York Times, December 2, 2008.
  17. ^ "Gary Coleman Pleads No Contest in Bowling Brawl ", E! Online, December 2, 2008.
  18. ^ "Gary Coleman Reaches Settlement in Suit over Parking Lot Dispute", The Salt Lake Tribune, January 14, 2010.
  19. ^ "Actor Gary Coleman arrested for 2nd time in Utah County"
  20. ^ Actor Gary Coleman released from Utah jail after arrest on outstanding warrant

See also

  • 50 Cutest Child Stars: All Grown Up

External links

Simple English

Gary Wayne Coleman
File:Gary Coleman
Born Gary Wayne Coleman
February 8, 1968(1968-02-08)
Zion, Illinois,
United States
Died May 28, 2010 (aged 42)
Provo, Utah, United States
Years active 1978-2010

Gary Wayne Coleman (February 8, 1968 - May 28, 2010) was an American actor. Coleman was born in Zion, Illinois, with a kidney disease causing nephritis. Nephritis is an autoimmune destruction of the kidney. The disease stopped his growth at an early age. Because of this, he was only 4 feet 8 inches (1.4 m) tall. His height was his most notable feature. He received two kidney transplants, one in 1973 and one in 1984. He then needed dialysis every day. He was famous for his role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes. He died of a hemorrhage in Provo, Utah.


Year Film Other notes
1981 On the Right Track
1982 Jimmy the Kid
1994 Party Short subject; Coleman was also associate producer
S.F.W. Cameo
1996 Fox Hunt
1997 Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's Documentary
1998 Dirty Work Cameo
2000 The Flunky
2002 Frank McKlusky, C.I. Cameo
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Cameo
2004 Chasing the Edge Cameo; short subject
Save Virgil Short subject
2005 A Christmas Too Many
2006 Church Ball
2007 Postal

Television work

  • Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (guest) (as Arnold Jackson, with Conrad Bain as Phillip Drummond)
  • Good Times (1977 guest)
  • Diff'rent Strokes (19781986)
  • The Kid from Left Field (1979)
  • Scout's Honor (1980)
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (episode "The Cosmic Wizz-Kid", also has a cameo in a later episode)
  • The Kid with the Broken Halo (1982)
  • The Gary Coleman Show (1982) (canceled after a few months) (voice)
  • The Kid with the 200 I.Q. (1983)
  • The Fantastic World of D.C. Collins (1984)
  • Playing with Fire (1985)
  • Like Father, Like Santa (1998)
  • "The Simpsons", "Grift of the Magi" (1999)
  • "The Drew Carey Show", "What's Wrong with this Midget? IV" (March 28, 2001)
  • Drake and Josh (guest)
  • A Carol Christmas (2003)
  • My Wife and Kids (guest)
  • The Jamie Foxx Show (guest) Cupid

Other websites

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