It sucks

Gary Coleman

Gary Wayne Coleman (born February 8, 1968) is an American actor, best known for his role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes (1978–1986), as well as his character's catchphrase "what'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?"


Coleman was born in Zion, Illinois on February 8, 1968. He was adopted by Willie and Sue Coleman. He suffers from a congenital kidney disease causing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (an autoimmune destruction and alteration of the kidney), which halted his growth at an early age, leading to a small stature (4 ft 8 in; 1.42 m). He has undergone two kidney transplants, one in 1973 and one in 1984, and requires daily dialysis.

Coleman appeared in several media productions, but is best known for his role as Arnold Jackson in Diff'rent Strokes.

Coleman secretly wed his girlfriend of five months, Shannon Price, 22, on August 28, 2007. They met on the set of the 2006 comedy film Church Ball.

As of April 25, 2008, Coleman is currently in divorce court. On May 1 and May 2, 2008, Coleman and his wife appeared on the show Divorce Court to air their differences in front of Judge Lynn Toler. Uncharacteristically for divorce court participants, they appeared on the show with the intent to save their marriage rather than adjudicate a separation.

Media appearances

While best known for his role on Diff'rent Strokes, he appeared before on The Jeffersons, The Facts of Life and in Good Times as Penny's smart-lipped friend Gary.

On August 1st 2008, Gary was featured on SportsCenter top ten plays. While playing for the Madison Mallards, Coleman was ejected from the game for unfair play.

Diff'rent Strokes

Coleman was cast in the role of Arnold Jackson on Diff'rent Strokes, portraying a child adopted by a wealthy widower. The show was broadcast from 1978 to 1986, and was a quick success.

At the height of his fame on Diff'rent Strokes, Coleman earned as much as $100,000 per episode, though it's estimated he only received a quarter of that while paying his parents, advisers, lawyers and the taxes.

Later character appearances

Coleman became 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 latter eventually served as the basis for the Hanna-Barbera-produced animated series The Gary Coleman Show from 1982.

In 1990, Coleman appeared on an episode of 227 playing a vicious mob boss (Season 5, Episode 17, "Knock It Off")

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 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"; he also appeared in "Day of the Jackanapes" (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 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 was 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.

Gary Coleman had a brief appearance on Family Guy in the episode Brian Goes Back to College. He had replaced Stewie since he owed him a favor.

Coleman has also appeared in a clip of Robot Chicken.

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 2008 he remains a minor cult figure.

During 2006 and 2007, Coleman appeared in commercials for a cash-advance loan company called CashCall. He ends the commercial by saying, "Pay your bills on time and everyone will love you." He even remarks in one commercial that "no one would lend [him] money, not even [his] relatives." and "What'chu talkin' 'bout CashCall?" in another.

Appearances as himself

Coleman played himself in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar John Cena's music video for "Bad Bad Man", this wasn't the first time he has appeared with a wrestler. At WCW Fall Brawl he took a guitar shot from Jeff Jarrett. 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 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), Kim Fields (The Facts of Life) and Susan Olsen (The Brady Bunch).

Coleman also appeared in the Nickelodeon sitcom 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.

Coleman made an appearance as himself in the TV show "My Wife and Kids", which Damon Wayans starred in. He was one of Kady's boyfriends when Michael Kyle (Wayans) was dreaming about what boys she would bring home. He said sarcastically, Gary Coleman and in the dream Kady brings Gary Coleman home.

Coleman appeared in two episodes of "The Wayans Bros." as the celebrity spokesperson for "Goop Hair It Is" and as a delivery man.

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

He appeared on the game show Russian Roulette for the benefit of a railroad society.

Avenue Q

Gary Coleman is parodied in the hit 2003 Broadway musical, Avenue Q, which won the 2004 Tony Award for best musical. A character presented as Coleman works as the superintendent of the apartment complex where the musical takes place. In the song, "It Sucks to be Me", he laments his fate.

In the Broadway musical, 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! - On Avenue Q!

In the London production, his lyrics are:

I was the cutest little Black kid on TV
I made a zillion dollars that my parents stole from me
My life was over when I hit puberty
But I'm here - Fixing the toilets! - On Avenue Q!

In both versions, the character continues:

Try having people stopping you to ask you "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
It... gets ... old!!

On Broadway, the role was originally played by Natalie Venetia Belcon.

In 2005 Coleman announced his intention to sue the producers of Avenue Q for their depiction of him, although as of 2008 the lawsuit has not materialized. At the 2007 New York Comic Con, Coleman said, "I wish there was a lawyer on Earth that would sue them for me.

Legal struggles

Financial matters

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. Coleman later filed for bankruptcy in 1999; he attributed his financial problems to mismanagement of his trust.


Coleman was charged with assault in 1998 after he punched a woman. Coleman had been working as a security guard, and bus driver Tracy Fields requested his autograph while he was shopping for a bulletproof vest in a California mall. The two argued about the autograph, wherein Fields mocked Coleman's lackluster career as an adult actor. Coleman testified that "I was getting scared, and she was getting ugly"; he said that he thought Fields was going to hit him, so he punched her. Coleman pleaded no contest and received a suspended sentence. He was also ordered to pay Fields $1,665 for hospital bills resulting from the fight. The incident was later parodied on Chappelle's Show.

Citation for disorderly conduct

On July 26, 2007, Coleman was cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct by a Provo, Utah, police officer after he was seen having a "heated discussion" with future wife, Shannon Price.

Divorce Court

Coleman and his wife, Shannon Price, appeared on TV's Divorce Court on May 1 and May 2 2008, due to marital difficulties.

Automobile accident

Coleman was involved in an automobile accident in Payson, Utah on September 6, 2008. According to Payson police, Coleman was backing up his truck in a Payson bowling alley parking lot when he allegedly hit 24-year-old Colt Rushton. According to a witness, the tire of Coleman's truck hit Rushton's knee and pulled him under the truck. Coleman's vehicle then hit another car. Rushton was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released with minor injuries. Police said Coleman's driving speed was not excessive. Witnesses told police the incident stemmed from an argument that started in the bowling alley, after Rushton photographed Coleman. Coleman objected to Rushton taking his picture and the two men started arguing, according to witnesses. There was no citation or arrest for either man. Police say they will continue their investigation since neither man would make a statement at the scene.

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
1983 The Kid with the 200 I.Q.
1985 Playing with Fire
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
1998 Like Father, Like Santa Elf Supervisor
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
2008 An American Carol

Television work


External links

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