Celebrity Then And Now
Gary Coleman
Name: Gary Coleman
Birthdate: February 8, 1968
Famous Years: 1980-2010
Currently Known For: N/A
Networth: $75,000Famous For: Diff'rent Strokes, Dirty Work, Silver Spoons
Gary Coleman
Name Gary Coleman
Birthdate February 8, 1968
Famous Years 1980-2010
Currently Known For N/A
Networth $75,000
Famous For Diff'rent Strokes, Dirty Work, Silver Spoons

Certain catchphrases just seem to have a lot of staying power after being uttered by their characters on television. In the late 1970s and throughout most of the 1980s, many of us were saying “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” That was thanks mainly to Gary Coleman, an actor who made his way into fame at a young age, and his memorable catchphrase came from the long-running TV series, “Diff’rent Strokes”.

Before becoming famous, Coleman was born on February 8, 1968 in the Chicago area to a father that worked a blue collar job and a mother that worked in a hospital. From when he was born, Coleman had health issues that would end up limiting his growth. While many would give up the dream of becoming an actor with that type of condition, Coleman used it to his advantage.

When he was just six years old, Coleman started to appear in advertisements, and it didn’t take much longer until he landed the main role on “Diff’rent Strokes” in 1978. The show would continue to be very popular throughout its run, lasting for eight seasons and totalling nearly 200 episodes. “Diff’rent Strokes” would continue to run in the top 30 in the ratings, and had many memorable moments and episodes.

Coleman would even get his own animated series while “Diff’rent Strokes” was still on the air, and continues to make guest appearances on other shows as his character, Arnold Jackson. Though he wouldn’t have another starring role on a TV series after “Diff’rent Strokes” came to an end, Coleman was still very much present on TV thanks to many different cameo appearances. Some of his more memorable cameos include shows such as “The Simpsons”, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Martin”.

Coleman also had a slew of TV movies that he acted in during the 1980s, and mostly played himself when appearing on the big screen. He would play himself in cameos on movies that included “Dirty Work” and “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star”. Coleman even added several music video appearances to his resume, popping up in videos for the likes of Kid Rock, ‘N Sync, and professional wrestler/former rapper John Cena.

Though he did still have a presence in entertainment, things weren’t always going swimmingly for Coleman away from the set. He would run into issues with money and with the law that would frequently make headlines. Coleman had been involved in several incidents where police were involved, including multiple calls to his home over domestic disputes. On the money side of things, Coleman had to sue his own parents over money that he was owed for his acting career. Eventually, Coleman had to file for bankruptcy that caused him to have to auction off many of his possessions.

Throughout his entire career, Coleman would continue to be most well known for his “Diff’rent Strokes” role, and was frequently asked to recite his catchphrase, which caused him to become upset with some people. Coleman grew to dislike the show that made him famous, especially when asked about a reunion. “There is no sum of money large enough on this planet or any other in the universe that would make me participate,” he said.

One thing that Coleman liked about the series, however, was that he had notoriety. In 2003, he tried to use that notoriety to run for office. He aimed high, too, announcing his candidacy for the Governor of California. Coleman would end up finishing eighth in the recall election that eventually went to Arnold Schwarzenegger. When Schwarzenegger did indeed announce that he was running, Coleman decided to drop out and support the future governor.

Sadly, the characteristic that helped Coleman to stand out is also what caused his untimely death. Coleman’s height had been stunted due to kidney disease while he was younger, which caused health problems to pop up every now and then. In 2009, Coleman had to go in for surgery on his heart, and afterward had come down with a case of pneumonia. The disease then caused Coleman to suffer from multiple seizures, with one coming in May 2010 that made him fall down a flight of stairs.

Coleman was then admitted to the local hospital while in Utah, where it seemed that he had been improving. Unfortunately, Coleman’s health would take a negative turn, and doctors had to put him on life support. The next day, on May 28, Coleman had passed away at the age of 42. In his final will and testament, Coleman said that he didn’t want a funeral or any other type of memorial service following his death.

For his former “Diff’rent Strokes” co-star Todd Bridges, it was hard to hear the news. “It’s unfortunate...it’s a sad day,” Bridges said. “It’s sad that I’m the last kid alive from the show.” Another former co-star, Janet Jackson, said that she was “at a loss for words upon learning of Gary Coleman’s passing. I want to remember him as the fun, playful, adorable and affectionate man he was. He has left a lasting legacy. I know he is finally at peace.”