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Former Child Star Gary Coleman Dead at 42

PROVO, Utah - Gary Coleman, the child star of the smash 1970s TV sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" whose later career was marred by medical and legal problems, has died after suffering an intercranial hemorrhage. He was 42.

Utah Valley Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Janet Frank said life support was terminated and Coleman died at 12:05 p.m. MDT.

Coleman, with his sparkling eyes and perfect comic timing, became a star after "Diff'rent Strokes" debuted in 1978. He played the younger brother in a pair of African-American siblings adopted by a wealthy white man.

His popularity faded when the show ended after six seasons on NBC and two on ABC.

Coleman suffered continuing ill health from the kidney disease that stunted his growth and had a host of legal problems in recent years.

Coleman suffered the hemorrhage Wednesday at his Santaquin home, 55 miles south of Salt Lake City.

A statement from the family said he was conscious and lucid until midday Thursday, when his condition worsened and he slipped into unconsciousness. Coleman was then placed on life support.

Diff'rent Strokes" debuted on NBC in 1978 drew most of its laughs from the tiny, 10-year-old Coleman.

Race and class relations became topics on the show as much as the typical trials of growing up.

Coleman was an immediate star, and his skeptical "Whatchu talkin' 'bout?" -- usually aimed at his brother, Willis -- became a catchphrase.

In a 1979 Los Angeles Times profile, his mother, Edmonia Sue Coleman, said her son had always been a ham as a small child. He acted in some commercials before he was signed by T.A.T., the production company that created "Diff'rent Strokes."

"Gary remembers everything. EVERYTHING," co-producer and director Herb Kenwith told the newspaper. "His power of concentration is unlike any adult's I know."

Asked by Ebony magazine in 1979 how he learned his lines so easily, young Gary replied, "It's easy!

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Added: May-28-2010 
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