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Diminutive television star Gary Coleman made "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" a household catch-phrase in the 1980s.
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The full biography of Gary Coleman.
Best-known for playing Kimberly Drummond on "Diff'rent Strokes" as a teenager, Dana Plato was fired from the show and struggled with drugs and alcohol. She died of an overdose at the age of 35.
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Born in Illinois in 1968, actor Gary Coleman's multiple health problems stunted his growth at 4 feet 8 inches. However, Coleman's small stature and charming personality made him perfect for Hollywood, and in 1978, at age 10, he became the star of the hit sitcom Diff'rent Strokes; he played the beloved character Arnold Jackson—an African-American orphan who is adopted by a wealthy white benefactor, Philip Drummond—on the series,
"I parody myself every chance I get. I try to make fun of myself and let people know that I'm a human being, and these things that have happened to me are real. I'm not just some cartoon who exists and suddenly doesn't exist."
"I don't hurt or want for visibility, but people seem to forget pretty easily."
which was an instant success. Coleman's common exclamation on the show, "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?", quickly became a pop culture catch-phrase. The actor went on to appear in the film On the Right Track (1981) and TV movie The Kid With the Broken Halo (1982), which was later adapted into the cartoon series The Gary Coleman Show, among other projects. Coleman died on May 28, 2010, at the age of 42, after suffering from an intracranial hemorrhage.
Gary Wayne Coleman was born on February 8, 1968, in Zion, Illinois, and was adopted as an infant by parents W.G. Coleman, a pharmaceutical representative, and Edmonia Sue, a nurse practitioner. At birth, Coleman was diagnosed with multiple health issues, including a congenital kidney defect known as nephritis, which required many surgeries and life-long dialysis. He had his first kidney transplant at the age of five, and then a second at the age of 17. As a result of his medical conditions, Coleman's height was permanently stunted, keeping him at a diminutive 4 feet 8 inches.
Around the age of 9, Gary Coleman was discovered by a talent scout for the Norman Lear agency who was looking for actors to star in a revival of the classic Little Rascals comedy series. The project didn't take off, but Coleman's small stature proved to be an asset in other productions, as he was cast to play precocious characters that were nearly half his age. The actor's big break came in 1978, when he was cast to play the character Arnold Jackson on a new sitcom called Diff'rent Strokes. Coleman played an African-American orphan who was taken in by a wealthy white benefactor and his daughter. The series was a hit, and so were Coleman and his co-stars, Dana Plato and Todd Bridges. His common exclamation on the show, "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" also became a pop culture catch-phrase. As a result of his television success, Coleman was able to spin his stardom into a film career. He appeared in the film On the Right Track (1981) and the made-for-TV movie The Kid With the Broken Halo (1982), which was later turned into the cartoon series The Gary Coleman Show.
At the age of 10, Coleman formed his own company, Gary Coleman Productions, to handle his career. His parents became his full-time managers, writing themselves into the contract as their son's paid employees. When Coleman's acting career slowed drastically after the cancelation of Diff'rent Strokes in 1986, the child star turned to his trust fund, which was estimated to hold nearly $18 million.
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