Pop Culture | Celebrities

The Tragic Struggles That Gary Coleman Faced Throughout His Life

Gary Coleman was one of the most iconic stars of the 80s, but his life post-sitcom life took a turn. While everyone still said his catchphrase all the time, they didn't really know what happened to him.

The star's life has been full of struggles. Right from the start of his life he was dealing with severe health complications that almost killed him, and as he aged his life didn't really ever get easier.

Gary Coleman
Chris Pizzello / Reuters

The actor passed away in 2010, but his life story is one that people need to know.

Childhood Illness

Gary Coleman

Coleman was adopted when he was only four days old by W.G. Coleman and Edmonia Sue. His new parents were faced with a lot of issues right off the bat, as Coleman was born with a chronic kidney disease.

He was treated as an infant using coricosteroids among other things, but these treatments stunted his growth and as an adult he never reached more than 4'8".

In his lifetime he had two kidney transplants and frequently had to undergo dialysis throughout his entire life.  

'Diff'rent Strokes'

Gary Coleman

But even though he had been dealing with illness, he grew up and still wanted to get into acting. His started by appearing in a bank commercial and then shortly after that he landed the iconic job of Arnold Jackson in Diff'rent Strokes.

He was playing one of the adopted brothers from Harlem that were brought to Manhattan. He said the phrase "What'chu talkin' 'bout Willis?" at least once per episode (or at least it felt that way) and people became obsessed with him.

He was making a lot of money as a child actor, earning roughly $100,000 per episode but it wasn't all getting allocated properly.

Coleman had to sue his parents

Gary Coleman

Because of the fact that his Diff'rent Strokes money wasn't dealt with properly, he was forced to sue his parents to regain some of the lost finances.

It was said that out of the $100,000 per episode he was making, he was left with less than a quarter of that because he was paying his parents, advisers, lawyers, and his taxes.

Coleman sued his parents in 1989, claiming that they had mishandled his trust fund. He won the case in 1993 and was awarded $1.3 million.

Legal Issues

Gary Coleman

After being such a huge star, Coleman had a lot of trouble finding a spot in the lime light anymore. Instead, Coleman took on jobs to help him earn money but weren't necessarily glamorous.

In 1998, Coleman was working as a security guard in Los Angeles when Tracey Fields, a fan, approached him. She initially requested an autograph, interrupting him while he was shopping and he declined, but then they began arguing.

Coleman claimed that Fields harassed him and mocked his failed career, but shortly after they began arguing he attacked her. He hit her in the face several times, but when it was brought to court he said it was in self defence.

"She wouldn't leave me alone. I was getting scared, and she was getting ugly," Coleman said.

He was charged with assault and given a suspended jail sentence and assigned anger management classes.

However, those classes didn't seem to work out very well for him, because in 2007 he received another misdemeanor charge because of his disorderly conduct.

The sad part is that isn't even all of his issues. In 2008, the former child star once again attacked a fan. This time Colt Rushton took a photo without permission, and then after arguing for a while in a parking lot, Coleman was alleged to have back his truck into Rushton, hitting him in the knees and forcing him to fall under the car.

Luckily Rushton only received minor injuries, but Coleman was till charged with disorderly conduct and reckless driving.

These aren't the only legal woes he had, but the others were directly related to his spouses.

Marriage, divorce, and police involvement

Gary Coleman and Wife

Coleman met and married Shannon Price in 2007. She was an extra on a film he worked on and they hit it off right away. However their relationship was pretty much a roller coaster from start to finish.

They were only married for about a year before they appeared on the television show Divorce Court as an attempt to save their marriage, but that didn't go as planned. They officially divorced in August 2008, but they still remained licing in the same house, at least that's what Price claimed later.

The two may have split up, but they still saw each other, and in 2009 they were both charged with disorderly conduct after a domestic dispute.

Coleman's attorney, Randy Kester, claimed that the issues stemmed from their personalities. “They both had pretty explosive personalities. There were incidences of domestic violence on both sides. They had plenty of verbal fights, which did escalate to physical confrontations.”

Coleman's Death

Gary Coleman

Coleman started experiencing seizures in 2010, and had to be hospitalized but eventually released. Unfortunately, the condition wasn't resolved and he had another seizure and then fell down the stairs, and suffered from a hematoma.

His former wife Price was in the house at the time, and she faced a lot of criticism after the 911 call was released because of how calm she sounded, and how she wouldn't go near the body to try and help him because she "can't stand blood."

The star was brought to the hospital in critical condition. He was said to have gotten a little bit better before getting much, much worse, and by the following day he was on life support. By mid-day two days after his fall, Price decided that she would remove the life support.

Coleman passed away on May 28th at the young age of 42.

Coleman's Funeral Cancellation and Will Debate

Gary Coleman
Wire image

There was a lot of debates as to the validity of his will. Many people were making claims to Coleman's estate, but a 'secret will' that made sure to exclude his parents.

The actor apparently had multiple wills so there was a lot of controversy as to which one was the accurate one. His most recent update actually listed an ex-girlfriend from 2005 as the executor and the sole heir, and hadn't been updated to include Price.

Price didn't approve, and filed a motion to take over. However the judge ruled that because of the domestic assault between the two, the divorce, and the fact that they never shows and physical affection towards each other there was no proof they were still a couple.

His funeral ended up being cancelled due to all the legal debates, but eventually he was cremated. However the location of his ashes has not been reported.

It's sad to know that someone who had such a quick rise to fame experienced such a rapid fall. He had a lot of talent, and it's a real shame that he didn't get to accomplish all that he wanted in his short life.

Source - Daily Mail / E News / Forbes / People