Gary Coleman Dead at 42
Gary Coleman, the child star of the hit TV series Diff’rent Strokes, has died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 42. Coleman was taken to a Utah hospital yesterday in critical condition, went into a coma later that day, and died today. Coleman became an instant star when he was picked to play the youngest of two black children who are adopted by a wealthy white man on NBC’s Diff’rent Strokes. He became so popular that the writers quickly rebuilt the entire show around his character, working his catchphrase “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” into every episode.
He was two years younger than me, so I quite literally watched him grow up.
Alas, all three of the child actors on that show went on to rather unenviable lives after the series ended.
Dana Plato, who played big sister Kimberly Drummond, committed suicide by prescription drugs in May 1999 after years of personal scandal.
Todd Bridges, who played big brother Willis Jackson, led a life of crime and drugs before turning his life around in recent years.
Actor Conrad Bain, who played the father, Phillip Drummond, and was ostensibly the star of the show, is retired at 87.