Gary Coleman's Parents Demanding Answers

Estranged parents of actor seeking answers about his death.

May 28, 2010, 6:33 AM

May 31, 2010— -- Gary Coleman's parents want to know exactly what happened leading up to their son's death.

When Coleman died last week at just 42 years old, he was estranged from his parents, but Willie and Sue Coleman say they love their son and want to know more about how he died. The couple told that they have tried repeatedly to get in touch with Gary's wife Shannon Price, but she will not return their calls.

"Gary Coleman's parents are telling us they want answers, they want to know what happened to their son, how did he fall, what are the circumstances of his death," said's Mike Fleeman.

"We're not pointing fingers at anyone, but we need to know exactly what happened," Sue Coleman told, adding that she and her husband were seeking closure.

Coleman, the former child actor and star of the 1980s TV sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," passed away last week in a Utah hospital from a brain hemorrhage after a fall last week.

Police say there is no investigation underway because there is nothing suspicious about his death, but no details have been released on how or why he fell. Coleman did suffer two seizures earlier this year.

Coleman suffered the fall and brain hemorrhage last Wednesday at the Utah home he shared with his wife.

"He was immediately taken to a local hospital for treatment," Coleman's publicist, John Alcantar, said in an e-mail to ABC News.

The fall left him unconscious and on life support.

Later Wednesday evening, according to Alcantar, Coleman was moved to another hospital for more tests and treatment. By midday Thursday, Coleman had regained consciousness and was lucid.

But his condition soon grew dire.

"As of mid morning on May 27, Mr. Coleman was conscious and lucid, but by early afternoon that same day, Mr. Coleman was slipping in and out of consciousness and his condition worsened," the hospital statement said.

At a news conference in Salt Lake City after Coleman's death, Coleman's brother-in-law Shawn Price read a statement written by his sister, Coleman's wife.

"We are very grateful for all the wonderful support everyone has been extending to Gary's family," the statement said. "Thousands of e-mails have poured in to the hospital. This has been so comforting to the family to know how beloved he still is."

After reaching TV superstardom playing Arnold Jackson on "Diff'rent Strokes" in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Coleman's life after the show included years of financial, legal and health troubles, including a congenital kidney condition, leading up to his death.

Gary Coleman's Rise to Fame on 'Diff'rent Strokes'

Coleman got his start in acting with appearances on "The Jeffersons" and "Good Times." In 1978, at the age of 10, he became a TV icon playing one of two adopted sons of a rich widower on NBC's "Diff'rent Strokes."

His spunky attitude and signature catch phrase -- "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" -- endeared him to audiences and helped him gain more roles. He starred in the 1981 movie "On the Right Track" and 1982's "Jimmy The Kid."

But after "Diff'rent Strokes" went off the air in 1986, Coleman's career stalled. He made appearances in a number of 1990s TV shows, like "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and "The Drew Carrey Show," but substantial parts eluded him.

Financial problems also plagued Coleman following his "Diff'rent Strokes" run. In 1989, he sued his parents and former manager over misappropriation of his $3.8 million trust fund. In 1993, he won a ruling of almost $1.3 million. But in 1999, Coleman filed for bankruptcy, attributing his financial problems to mismanagement of his trust.

Coleman's health may have also sidelined his career. He suffered from the congenital kidney condition that halted his growth at an early age and despite two kidney transplants, required him to undergo daily dialysis.

Because of his unstable condition, Coleman did not undergo any surgery while hospitalized just before his death, according to Alcantar.

"In recent years Gary Coleman has had difficulties, not only with health issues, but also with his personal and public life," Alcantar said. "At times, it may not have been apparent, but he always has had fond memories of being an entertainer and appreciates his fans for all their support over the years."

As he grew older, Coleman had multiple run-ins with the law. In 1998, while working as a mall security guard, he punched Tracy Fields, a bus driver who asked for his autograph, and was charged with assault. Coleman was ordered to pay Fields' resulting hospital bills, and though his monetary loss was less than $2,000, the cost of the assault was dire to his reputation -- much of Hollywood ceased to take him seriously, chalking him up as a child actor gone bad.

In September 2008, Coleman got into a similar altercation and car accident after a 24-year-old tried to take his photo at a Utah bowling alley. Coleman pleaded no contest to charges of disorderly conduct and reckless driving stemming from that case.

Gary Coleman's Marriage and Difficulties

Coleman and Price couple married on a Nevada mountaintop in 2007 after meeting on the set of a 2006 film called "Church Ball." She was 22, he was 40. Shortly after they sat down with "Inside Edition," and it looked like the honeymoon was already over.

"We are not real showy love people," Coleman said. "We do all that at home."

"He is not romantic, but I'm kind of different," Shannon said.

"Gary and Shannon did have a very tumultuous relationship,"'s Fleeman said.

One of Coleman's final public appearances was in May 2008, when he and Price went on "Divorce Court" not to end their marriage, but to save it.

Price complained that she and Coleman had ugly fights and that the actor threw temper tantrums "like a 5-year-old does." Coleman admitted to Judge Lynn Toler that he had a bad attitude, but that was because he hadn't had an easy life.

"I don't have any friends and don't have any intention of making any," he said, according to a transcript of the show. "People will stab you in the back, mistreat you, talk about me behind your back, steal from you. And they're not really your friends. They're only there because you're a celebrity or because they want to get something from you."

"We may go a week and not speak to each other," Coleman said. "I have very low self esteem. I don't feel very successful in life."

In 2009 Price was charged with domestic violence and disorderly conduct. This past January Coleman was taken in for a domestic violence warrant.

The year 2010 was particularly hard for Coleman.

In January, he was arrested for failing to appear in court after a domestic disturbance. His health has also faltered -- Coleman suffered seizures in January and again later February on the set of "The Insider."

Nine days later, in what is believed to be his final television appearance, Coleman lashed out at "The Insider" guest panelist Lisa Bloom when she asked if he ever lay hands on his wife.

"You go somewhere and drown yourself in the ocean!" Coleman shouted.

"Is that the way you talk to your wife?" responded Bloom.

"Yes, if I have to!" exclaimed Coleman. "If I need to, but I don't. I don't know about you, I don't care about you! If you get hit by a bus I am not going to care!"

In a radio interview last year Coleman reflected on his life, and the parents who he accused of stealing three quarters of his television earnings.

"I am still bitter about it," Coleman said. "It still hurts, it still hurts. You do midget mascots to pay the mortgage."

ABC News' Michael S. James and Brian Braiker contributed to this report.

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