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 says life support was terminated and Coleman died at 12:05 p.m. MDT.
Coleman suffered the hemorrhage Wednesday at his Santaquin home, 55 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Coleman, 42, was conscious and lucid until midday Thursday, when his condition worsened and he slipped into unconsciousness. Coleman was then placed on life support.
Coleman has had continuing ill health from a kidney disease he suffered as a child. He had at least two kidney transplants and has ongoing dialysis.
An ambulance was called to Coleman’s home Wednesday, and he was initially transported to Mountain View Hospital in Payson, the nearest medical facility, said Dennis Howard, Santaquin’s director of public safety.
The family statement says Coleman was later moved to the regional medical center in Provo for additional tests and treatment.
Dr. Jennifer Majersik, a stroke specialist and assistant professor of neurology at the University of Utah, said intracranial hemorrhages can be broken vessels within the brain itself or next to it. Majersik, who is not involved in Coleman’s treatment and is unfamiliar with the case, said the most serious types involve a broken vessel inside the brain.
Hemorrhaging can also occur on the surface of the brain or in the protective layers between the brain and the skull, Majersik said.
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.
He suffered continuing ill health from the kidney disease that stunted his growth and had a host of legal problems in recent years.
The family acknowledged his struggles in its statement, saying Coleman had had “difficulties not only with health issues, but also with his personal and public life.”
“At times it may not have been apparent, but he always had fond memories of being an entertainer and appreciates his fans for all their support over the years,” the family said.