Gary Coleman Is Dead

Actor, California gubernatorial candidate, and persistent celebrity dies in Utah hospital

Gary Coleman
Numerous media outlets are reporting that Gary Coleman, the renowned child actor with whom the American public retained a perverse fascination well into his adulthood, has died in a Utah hospital from injuries sustained in a fall. He was 42.

According to reports in TMZ,, and The Huffington Post, Coleman died at about noon today. He was admitted to the hospital Wednesday after injuring his head during a fall. TMZ reports that Coleman's wife, Shannon, made a decision to pull him off of life support today.

Coleman charmed the nation as the irascible orphan Arnold Jackson in the 1980s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, and went on to enjoy a bizarre afterlife in the public eye. Among many cultural pseudo-tributes to Coleman were his appearance on the VH1 reality-T.V. show The Surreal Life, where Vanilla Ice threatened to toss him into a deep fryer at Mel's Diner in Hollywood, and an homage in the hit Broadway musical Avenue Q. (Coleman wasn't in the play, but was an actual character, played by other actors.)
Coleman was also endorsed for California governor by former SF Weekly sister paper the East Bay Express during the circus that was the 2003 recall election. "Here is a man who could finally bring California out of the wilderness, whose innate nobility and common sense would save us all," Chris Thompson of the Express observed at the time. "Gary is the perfect leader for our times -- such as they are."

Seven years later, that still has the ring of truth. If not the perfect leader, Coleman was certainly a representative celebrity for a contemporary public with a bizarre penchant for loving, loathing, and mocking its stars in equal measure. R.I.P., Gary.

Follow us on Twitter: @PeteJamison and @TheSnitchSF

My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest

Now Trending

From the Vault


©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.