Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Diff’rent Strokes actor Gary Coleman dies aged 42

Gary Coleman suffered a string of serious illnesses
Gary Coleman has suffered a string of serious illnesses (AP)

Former child star Gary Coleman has died after suffering a brain hemorrhage. He was 42.

The American, who by the age of 11 had skyrocketed to become TV's brightest star, had been in a coma on life support in a Utah hospital, where he was admitted after falling at home, his manager said. Despite congenital health problems which led to him never growing taller than 4ft 8in, Coleman experienced a towering achievement at the start of his career.

As Arnold Jackson, the plucky Harlem boy adopted into a wealthy white household on Diff'rent Strokes from 1978-86, Coleman was earning as much as $100,000 (£70,000) per episode.

However it was later reported that three-quarters of it ended up being shelled out to his parents, advisers, lawyers and the US tax authorities.

At the pinnacle of his fame in 1979 it was reported that Coleman, from Zion, Illinois, north of Chicago, had grown up with nephritis — a potentially fatal kidney defect.

He underwent two transplants before the age of 14. At one stage in his life, he underwent dialysis four times a day in order to survive. Coleman started modeling at age five. That led to commercials for McDonald's and Hallmark cards before producer Norman Lear cast him in a pilot remake of The Little Rascals, which didn't get picked up, en route to Diff'rent Strokes.

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