Gary Coleman

Gary Coleman (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Gary Wayne Coleman (born February 8, 1968) is an American actor. Coleman was born in Zion, Illinois, with a congenital kidney disease causing nephritis (an autoimmune destruction of the kidney), which halted his growth at an early age, leading to a small stature (4 ft 8 in; 1.42 m) which, along with his cherubic face and comedic timing, was among his most distinguishing features. He has undergone two kidney transplants, one in 1973 and one in 1984, and requires daily dialysis. He is best remembered for his role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.

During the eight year run of the show, where his famous catchphrase was "what'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?", Coleman was 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 Kid With the Broken Halo eventually served as the basis for the Hanna-Barbera-produced animated series The Gary Coleman Show from 1982.

At the height of his fame on Diff'rent Strokes, Coleman earned $70,000 per episode. As he grew older, however, he fell from public favor. After the cancellation of Diff'rent Strokes, his acting career declined sharply.

Later media appearances

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 the character "Mad Dog No Good" on the television show Martin, in which he played an ex-convict whom Martin helped to imprison. Once released, Mad Dog No Good comes looking for Martin. (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 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" (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 (obviously a member of the paparazzi) 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 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.

Other media appearances

Coleman occasionally is able to cash in on his camp value to members of Generation X, by appearing in cameo roles in film and TV. As with Day-Glo, Rubik's Cube, Valley girls, Care Bears, Mr. T, the Smurfs and other artifacts from the early 1980s, Coleman's popularity coincided with the childhood of a particularly productive generation of internet users, and in 2007 he remains a minor cult figure.

Coleman played himself in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar John Cena's music video for "Bad Bad Man", 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's one-time Surreal Life co-star, Ron Jeremy, had a cameo in Kid Rock's video as a piano player.

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), and Susan Olsen (The Brady Bunch).

Coleman also appeared in a Nickelodeon sitcom called 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.

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

During 2006 and 2007, Coleman appeared in a commercial for a cash-advance loan company called CashCall. He ends the commercial by saying, "Pay your bills on time and everyone will love you."

Avenue Q character

Gary Coleman is a character (not an actor) in the hit 2003 Broadway musical, Avenue Q, which won the 2004 Tony Award for best musical. The character works as the superintendent of the apartment complex where the musical takes place. In the song, "What do you do with a B.A in English/It sucks to be me", he states: "I'm Gary Coleman from TV's 'Diff'rent Strokes'/I made a lot of money that got stolen by my folks/now I'm broke, and I'm the butt of everyone's jokes/but I'm here, the superintendent of Avenue Q!...Try having people stopping you to ask you 'what'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?'/it gets old.."

Legal struggles

In 1989, Coleman sued his parents and former manager over misappropriation of his $8.3 million trust fund. He won a $1,280,000 ruling on February 23, 1993. The basis for the lawsuit was that his parents had used the trust fund to accumulate $770,000 for themselves, leaving Coleman only $220,000. Coleman later filed for bankruptcy in 1999.

Coleman appeared in court on November 2, 2000, charged with assault. He was ordered to pay bus driver Tracy Fields $1,665 for hospital bills resulting from a fight. Fields had attempted to get Coleman's autograph while he was shopping for a bulletproof vest in a California mall. Coleman said he felt "threatened by her insistence" and punched her in the head. Coleman was working as a security guard at the time. This incident was later parodied on Chappelle's Show, and The Smoking Gun.

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 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

  • First appeared in a commercial for Harris Bank. His line, after the announcer says "You should have a Harris banker" was "You should have a Hubert doll". "Hubert" was a stuffed lion representing the Harris bank logo.
  • Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (guest) (as Arnold Jackson, with Conrad Bain as Phillip Drummond)
  • Good Times (1977 guest)
  • Diff'rent Strokes (1978–1986)
  • 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 star)Cupid

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