There was one spinoff of Diff'rent Strokes (The
Facts of Life) and one crossover series (Hello, Larry).
There once was an animated series called "The Gary Coleman
Show".† It aired on the Cartoon Network in reruns until several years ago. See the link on the left frame for my little page on the show.
In July of 1979, dumpling-cheeked, pudgy prodigy Gary
Coleman held up shooting on the show because, it was reported, he wanted
"more money, added benefits, and a bodyguard."† Specifically, he wanted
$30,000 per episode (as opposed to the $1,600 he'd been getting). He held out again in 1981 while they started to film without him.
According to a 1982 article Gary Coleman was making $50,000 per each episode- or about $1.3 million for the 1981-82 season. Todd Bridges was making about $15,000 per show. Conrad Bain was making about $25,000 per show.
At one time, Gary Coleman was making as much as $80,000 an episode. He earned over $7 million while starring on the show.
Gary Coleman vaulted to network stardom after wowing producer Norman Lear with an unexpected, impromptu audition. Gary had done several TV commercials in Chicago when he was called to Hollywood in 1976 to do a commercial. Before returning home, he was summoned to Tandem Productions for a possible role in a proposed new "Little Rascals" series. Three episodes of "The Little Rascals" were filmed with Gary playing the role of Stymie, but no one bought the series. Lear then decided to groom Gary through guest appearances on such shows as The Jeffersons (he played
George Jefferson's nephew Raymond) and Good Times (as an obnoxious kid named Gary Daniels from the
Early in 1978, Tandem wanted to team Gary up with Conrad Bain, the urbane, middle-aged Canadian Scot who starred in "Maude". The producers came up with an idea that seemed to be workable. It was called '45 Minutes from Harlem,' and it was about a rich man in the posh suburban town of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., who adopts a black kid from the Harlem ghetto. Conrad Bain become involved in developing a different, better version of '45 Minutes from Harlem', and for the new show, Gary acquired a brother (Todd Bridges) and the rich man character (Bain) now was living on Park Avenue with his teenage daughter and a middle-aged housekeeper--all with the well defined, believable personalities. NBC liked their script reading so much, no pilot for Diff'rent Strokes was made, the first episode aired November 3rd.
Gary Coleman won a settlement against his parents for about $750,000 in a court case.
Gary Coleman got $1 million a year when the show went into syndication.
Dana Plato was making as much as $22,000 per episode on Diff'rent Strokes.
Dana Plato was training in ice skating for the Olympics when she got the role of Kimberly on "Diff'rent Strokes." She had to give up hope for the Olympics, but she still skated for fun.
Dana Plato got the role of Kimberly on Diff'rent Strokes after a producer spotted her on The Gong Show.
Todd Bridges got the role of Willis Jackson without an audition, the producers had known
him from the Abe Vigoda series "Fish".
Friday, the 19th of May 1978, Tandem Productions executives pitched the idea to NBC. 26
episodes were ordered.
Ben Starr wrote the first episode of Diff'rent Strokes.
On paper, Gary Coleman's famous line read "what are you talking about?". It was Gary
Coleman who said it like "whatchoo talkin' 'bout?"
A typical schedule of a Diff'rent Strokes episode: Wednesday- they got a new script;
Wednesday-Friday work in a rehearsal hall; off the weekend; Monday- camera block with the set
and props; shoot twice on Tuesdays.
Diff'rent Strokes finished its first season with a viewing audience of over 41 million
12-year-old Gary Coleman (February 1980) won a People's Choice Award and the NAACP's Image
Award for best new actor.
By the end of 1982, 14-year-old Coleman was earning a reported $70,000 per episode, making
him one of the highest paid actors up to that time.
On November 10, 1984 production was halted. Gary Coleman checked into the UCLA
Medical Center to undergo another kidney transplant. The kidney gave out a year later.
Sagging ratings caused the cancellation of the series, it had moved to ABC for
its' last season.
Gary Coleman was the People's Choice Award for Favorite Young Television Performer
4 years in a row at one time.
Gary Coleman was paid $1,500 per episode the first season. It later went up to
$20,000 , then $40,000, and as high as $70,000. He made almost $18 million from his tv
and movies work during the period Diff'rent Strokes was on the air (1978-1986).
There was an episode of Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher with a Diff'rent Strokes
reference, Nick says "Whatchoo talkin' about Willis?
The building that was filmed in the 1st season opening credits is located at the corner
of Park Ave. and 79th St. in Manhattan. The reason it was only featured during the first season was
because they never got permission from the building, let alone pay them. And there are no
penthouses in the building, as it says on the show. You can take a tour of various tv
sites including the famous Diff'rent Strokes building in the New York City area on a tour, click here for
more information. more information /
photo of the building from 2000
Diff'rent Strokes' original timeslot was Friday at 8PM East, as a midseason
replacement for the disastrous Joe Namath vehicle "The Waverly Wonders."
Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin produced "Diff'rent Strokes" through their Tandem
Productions, but neither took a producer credit since they didn't have much creative
involvement on a day-to-day basis. There's definitely a difference between the shows
Lear actually produced ("All in the Family", "Maude") vs. the ones he merely owned
("Diff'rent Strokes", "The Facts of Life", "Hello Larry").
The characters of Dudley Ramsey and Robbie Jayson were named after the story editors of
the series - A. Dudley Johnson, Jr. and Robbie Jayson.
When NBC canceled Diff'rent Strokes in 1985, rumors surfaced that Gary Coleman was to blame because he wanted too much money. In an Entertainment Tonight interview, Coleman said, " I had nothing to do with the cancelation of Diff'rent Strokes."
The show was canceled due to low ratings more than anything.