Gary Coleman’s love-hate life in advertising

You had to feel bad for Gary Coleman when he was reduced to shilling for in 2007. The companies that hired the former child star toward the end of his life didn't have much respect for him, and Coleman, after years of financial struggle and brushes with the law, couldn't afford much for himself. Still, it was advertising that gave Coleman his early break, with his Chicagoland spots for Harris Bank first introducing viewers to the lovable kid who would become Arnold Jackson on Diff'rent Strokes. That character made him famous, and "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" was the "Where's the beef?" of '80s sitcoms. But despite his success, he had chronic financial woes, not all of his own making (his parents and former manager ripped him off), and was forced to return to advertising on a level that was beneath him (yes, even at 4-foot-8). The CashCall ads proved Coleman could laugh at himself, but it was pained laughter. That pain has now been eased. Gary Coleman died today at age 42.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Publish date: May 28, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT