(CNN) — Former child star Gary Coleman, who rose to fame as the wisecracking youngster Arnold Jackson on the TV sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” but grew up to grapple with a troubled adulthood, has died. He was 42.
Coleman died of a brain hemorrhage at a Provo, Utah hospital, Friday afternoon, according to a hospital spokeswoman. The actor fell ill at his Santaquin, Utah, home Wednesday evening and was rushed by ambulance to a hospital, Coleman’s spokesman had said in a statement earlier Friday.
He was then taken to another hospital — Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo — later Wednesday night.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Coleman was one of television’s brightest stars, the personality around which NBC’s “Strokes” — the story of two inner-city children who are taken in by a wealthy businessman, his daughter and their housekeeper — was built.
His natural charm and way with a line — the frequently uttered “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”, directed at his older brother (played by Todd Bridges), became a catchphrase –helped make the show a breakout hit, a mainstay of the NBC schedule from 1978 to 1985 (and on ABC for a year afterward).
But in later years Coleman’s name became a punch line. He was denigrated because of his short stature — he never grew taller than 4 feet 8 inches because of nephritis, a kidney condition. He sued his parents over mismanagement of his finances; though he won a $1.3 million settlement in 1993, he had to file for bankruptcy six years later. He was occasionally in the news for scuffles. He appeared on TV court shows and had a brief run for governor of California.