Gary Coleman dies at 42; child star of hit sitcom 'Diff'rent Strokes
Gary Coleman, who soared to fame in the late 1970s as the child star of the hit sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" and whose post-TV-series life included a stint as a shopping mall security guard and an unlikely run for California governor, died Friday. He was 42.

The diminutive Coleman, whose adult height was 4 feet 8 inches, died at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo after suffering a brain hemorrhage earlier this week, according to a statement from hospital spokeswoman Janet Frank.

A resident of Santaquin, Utah, Coleman had been hospitalized Wednesday and lost consciousness the next day. He was taken off life support Friday, the hospital said.

Born with failed kidneys, Coleman had undergone two transplants by age 14 and his growth was permanently stunted by the side effects of dialysis medications.

He was a precocious, chubby-cheeked elementary school student living in Zion, Ill., when a scout for TV producer Norman Lear spotted him in a Chicago bank commercial.

The exceptionally bright, talented and self-confident Coleman was 10 when "Diff'rent Strokes" debuted on NBC in 1978.

As the lovably outspoken 8-year-old Arnold Jackson, he was the comedic centerpiece of the series about two Harlem sons of a black housekeeper whose white boss, a wealthy widower, takes them into his Park Avenue penthouse after her death and later adopts them.

The cast of the sitcom, which ended its eight-season run in 1986 after switching to ABC, included Conrad Bain as the wealthy Philip Drummond; Todd Bridges as Arnold's older brother, Willis; Dana Plato as Drummond's daughter, Kimberly; and Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Garrett, Drummond's new housekeeper.

"Its appeal rests chiefly on Gary, a black Pillsbury Doughboy, tiny and cuddly with a face like a pincushion," The Times' Howard Rosenberg wrote in 1979. "At 50 pounds and belt-buckle high, he's small enough to be a Christmas tree ornament. But from his mouth come words … well, you just have to be there."

In a 1979 TV Guide article headlined "Small Wonder," Coleman was described as having "the comic delivery" of Jack Benny, Groucho Marx and Richard Pryor.

"When he walks onto a stage, something has happened, and you feel it," Lear told TV Guide. "That's called presence, and it's rare. Many important actors, even stars, don't have it. Gary does."

The scene-stealing Coleman quickly became a pop-culture icon, whose recurring line "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" became a national catchphrase.

Praised by comedy legends Bob Hope and Lucille Ball, Coleman was in big demand for TV talk shows.

He more than held his own during his first appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" in 1978, which led Carson to jokingly ask his young guest, "What night are you available for guest host?"

At the height of his TV series success, Coleman reportedly earned $64,000 per week and is said to have made $18 million during his TV heyday.

That included income from movies such as "On the Right Track" and "Jimmy the Kid" and TV movies such as " The Kid With the Broken Halo" and "The Kid With the 200 I.Q." — as well as the animated series "The Gary Coleman Show."

Born Feb. 8, 1968, Coleman was the adopted son of W.G. "Willie" and Edmonia Sue Coleman, who, according to a 1990 Times article, brought him home from a Chicago hospital when he was four days old.

It was not until 18 months later, The Times reported, that the Colemans were told that Gary had been born with one atrophied kidney and that the other would soon fail.

In 1989, Coleman sued his parents and his former business manager, Anita DeThomas, for allegedly stealing more than $1 million from him. The Colemans and DeThomas countersued for defamation and breach of contract.