The Brief, Sad Life of Gary Coleman

From child star to reality show contestant, happiness seemed to elude the diminutive actor.

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  • The Best Days of Gary Coleman

    The Best Days of Gary Coleman

    Coleman was just 10 when Diff’rent Strokes launched a career that hit its peak in its first chapter. As a child star, Gary Coleman was adorable and the show soared to the top of the ratings. The implausibility of two black boys adopted by a white millionaire was raised but never gained much traction.

  • What'cha Talkin' About, Willis?

    What'cha Talkin' About, Willis?

    Coleman’s retort to his TV brother, Willis, became a catchphrase of the 1980s. Todd Bridges, who played Willis, struggled with drugs later in his own career.

  • The Dapper Gary

    The Dapper Gary

    Coleman struggled with kidney disease, which was responsible for his diminutive height, but at his best, he cut a dapper figure.

  • Hobnobbing With the Stars

    Hobnobbing With the Stars

    Success brought Coleman instant celebrity. Here in 1981, he is with comedian Bob Hope and actress Brooke Shield.

  • Before the Family Feud

    Before the Family Feud

    Happier times with his father in 1979. Coleman later sued his parents over money and they became estranged.

  • An Older Gary

    An Older Gary

    Life did not wear well on Coleman, who remained 4-foot-8-inches tall.

  • Desperately Seeking Success

    Desperately Seeking Success

    Coleman was always frustrated by his limited options in Hollywood. In 2009, he appeared in a reality-style film, Midgets vs. Mascots,  that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.