He continued to get credits for TV guest shots and other small roles over the years. But he told the AP in 2001 that he preferred earning money from celebrity endorsements. "Now that I'm 33, I can call the shots. ... And if anybody has a problem with that, I guess they don't have to work with me."
Coleman was among 135 candidates who ran in California's bizarre 2003 recall election to replace then-Gov. Gray Davis, whom voters ousted in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Coleman, who advocated drastic steps for California's faltering economy such as lowering income taxes and raising sales tax, came in eighth place with 12,488 votes, or 0.2 percent, just behind Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt.
Running for office gave him a chance to show another side of himself, he told The Associated Press at the time.
"This is really interesting and cool, and I've been enjoying the heck out of it because I get to be intelligent, which is something I don't get to do very often," he said.
Coleman told The New York Times at the time that "I want to escape that legacy of Arnold Jackson. I'm someone more. It would be nice if the world thought of me as something more."
But legal disputes dogged him repeatedly. In 1989, when Coleman was 21, his mother filed a court request trying to gain control of her son's $6 million fortune, saying he was incapable of handling his affairs. He said the move "obviously stems from her frustration at not being able to control my life."
In a 1993 television interview, he said he had twice tried to kill himself by overdosing on pills.
He moved to Utah in fall 2005, and according to a tally in early 2010, officers were called to assist or intervene with Coleman more than 20 times in the following years. They included a call where Coleman said he had taken dozens of Oxycontin pills and "wanted to die." Some of the disputes involved his wife, Shannon Price, whom he met on the set of the 2006 comedy "Church Ball" and married in 2007.
In September 2008, a dustup with a fan at a Utah bowling alley led Coleman to plead no contest to disorderly conduct. The fan also sued him, claiming the actor punched him and ran into him with his truck.
Coleman was born Feb. 8, 1968, in Zion, Ill., near Chicago. His mother told Ebony his kidney disease was diagnosed when he was 2. He underwent his first transplant at age 5.
He attracted attention when he took part in some local fashion shows and people suggested he should get work performing in commercials, which he then did, she said.