Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$75 Thousand
Feb 8, 1968 - May 28, 2010 (42 years old)
4 ft 7 in (1.42 m)
Actor, Voice Actor
United States of America
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What was Gary Coleman's net worth and salary?

Gary Coleman was an American actor who had a net worth of $75 thousand dollars at the time of his death in 2010. Gary Coleman was best known for his child performance as Arnold Jackson on the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes." Due to the role, he became one of the highest-paid kid actors in the late 70s and 80s. He also won numerous awards. His catchphrase on the show "What'chu talkin' bout, Willis?" is still very popular.

Coleman also lent his voice to the animated programs "The Gary Coleman Show" and "Waynehead," and appeared in films such as "Jimmy the Kid," "Dirty Work," and "An American Carol."

Diffrent Strokes Salary

At his peak, Gary Coleman earned $100,000 per episode on the show. That made him the highest-paid TV actor in the world at the time. Roughly $2.5 million per season. That's the same as around $6.5 million after adjusting for inflation. After he paid his parents, lawyers, advisers, and taxes he was said to only have one fourth of what he made.

Coleman was often burdened by financial issues during his career, due to both ongoing medical expenses and the fact that his parents and business advisers frequently misappropriated his earnings. In 1989, he sued his adoptive parents and former advisers, ultimately winning a $1.28 million settlement some years later. To support himself during his career struggles, Coleman worked part-time at railroad hobby stores in California, Arizona, and Colorado.

While working as a security guard in 1998, Coleman was charged with assaulting a Los Angeles bus driver who requested his autograph. When an argument ensued, Coleman punched the woman several times in the face, and was arrested. He received a suspended prison sentence, and was ordered to both pay the woman's hospital bill and enroll in anger management classes. The next year, Coleman filed for bankruptcy protection. Later on in his life, Coleman frequently ran into more legal trouble, being cited for instances of disorderly conduct, reckless driving, and domestic assault.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Gary Coleman was born in 1968 in Zion, Illinois, the adopted son of Edmonia Sue, a nurse practitioner, and W. G. Coleman, a forklift operator. He had a congenital kidney disease that would prevent him from growing beyond 4 feet 8 inches, and that would keep his face appearing childlike into adulthood. In an attempt to address this, he underwent two kidney transplants in 1973, and another in 1984, but they were unsuccessful.

Coleman's professional career began in 1974, when he appeared in a commercial for Harris Bank. That same year, he was in an episode of the CBS drama series "Medical Center." A few years later, he appeared in episodes of the CBS sitcoms "The Jeffersons" and "Good Times."

Diff'rent Strokes

In 1977, Coleman was in the pilot episode of the revival of "The Little Rascals." Although the series was not picked up, an executive noticed Coleman, and subsequently cast him in what would be his most famous role: Arnold Jackson on "Diff'rent Strokes." Jackson was one of two African-American brothers from Harlem, the other played by Todd Bridges, who were adopted by a wealthy white Manhattan widower, portrayed by Conrad Bain. A major hit, the show ran for eight seasons, first on NBC and then on ABC. Coleman became known for his catchphrase on the show, "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?," which he would utter suspiciously to his character's brother.

At the peak of his fame on "Diff'rent Strokes," Coleman was reportedly earning $100,000 per episode. He received a plethora of accolades, including five Young Artist Award nominations and two wins, and four consecutive People's Choice Awards for Favorite Young TV Performer, won between 1980 and 1983.

Gary Coleman

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Film and Television Career in the 70s and 80s

A popular figure due to the success of "Diff'rent Strokes," Coleman began appearing on other television productions, as well as in films. In 1979, he starred in the made-for-television movie "The Kid from Left Field," and had a guest appearance on the science-fiction program "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century." The following year, he was in the television film "Scout's Honor," and in 1981, made his feature film debut in the comedy "On the Right Track," starring as a young shoeshine boy who becomes famous for successfully gambling on horses. This was followed by "The Kid with the Broken Halo," "Jimmy the Kid," and three television films: "The Kid with the 200 I.Q.," "The Fantastic World of D.C. Collins," and "Playing with Fire." Meanwhile, in 1982, Coleman was the lead voice on the Saturday morning animated program "The Gary Coleman Show," which ran for 13 episodes.

Later Acting Career

In the 1990s, Coleman appeared in episodes of shows such as "Married… with Children," "Martin," and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." In 1996, he had a recurring role on the Saturday morning cartoon "Waynehead," which was created by actor Damon Wayans. On the big screen, he made cameo appearances as himself in the comedies "S.F.W." and "Dirty Work."

Coleman continued to make appearances as himself on many programs in the 2000s. His credits included "The Hughleys," "My Wife and Kids," "Baby Bob," "The Parkers," "The Surreal Life," "Drake & Josh," and "Nitro Circus." Among Coleman's last roles were in the comedies "Church Ball" and "An American Carol." His final film appearance came in the 2009 independent film "Midgets vs. Mascots."

Personal Life

While on the set of "Church Ball" in 2007, Coleman met Shannon Price, who was working as an extra. They wed many months later. After appearing on the show "Divorce Court" in 2008, they ended up divorcing, due in large part to Price being physically abusive and unfaithful.

In 2009, Colman had heart surgery, and developed pneumonia. The next year, he suffered two seizures, and was admitted to the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah after falling down the stairs of his home. In critical condition, his health worsened, and he was put on life support. Coleman passed away in May of 2010, at the age of 42.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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