Diff'rent Strokes: Show Information


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First Telecast:  November 3, 1978
Last Telecast:   August 30, 1986
Total number of episodes:  189

Broadcast History:                                  

Month/Year
Network
Day/Time
Nov 1978-Oct 1979
NBC
Fri 8:00-8:30PM
Oct 1979-Oct 1981
NBC
Wed 9:00-9:30PM
Oct 1981-Aug 1982
NBC
Thu 9:00-9:30PM
Aug 1982-Aug 1985
NBC
Sat 8:00-8:30PM
Sep 1985-Mar 1986
ABC
Fri 9:00-9:30PM
Jun 1986-Aug 1986
ABC
Sat 8:00-8:30PM

Show Summary:

Pint-sized Gary Coleman was one of the comedy discoveries of the late 1970s.  Pudgy cheeks, twinkling eyes, and flawless timing made him seem like an old pro packed into the body of a small child--and he helped turn this improbable comedy into one of the hits of the 1978-1979 season.

Eight-year-old Arnold and his 12-year-old brother Willis were two black kids from Harlem who found themselves quite suddenly in the lap of luxury.  Their dying mother, a housekeeper for wealthy Phillip Drummond, had extracted from her employer the promise that he would look after her boys.  Unlike some of TV's other accidental parents (for example, Family Affair), Drummond didn't mind at all, and welcomed the two into his Park Avenue apartment as his own.  No matter that there were endless double takes when the rich, white Drummond, president of the huge conglomerate Trans-Allied, Inc. (though he never seemed to work much), introduced the two spunky black kids as his "sons."  They didn't care.  There was always plenty of love around--though Willis seemed a bit reserved--and everybody learned little lessons in Living Right in each episode.  There were also episodes on such serious subjects as child abuse and the dangers of hitchhiking.  Former first lady Nancy Reagan appeared in a 1983 episode dealing with drug abuse.  Rounding out the household was widower Drummond's 13-year-old daughter, Kimberly, and the new housekeeper, the scatterbrained Mrs. Garrett.

As years passed, new characters were introduced.  Mrs. Garrett left to become a housemother at the prestigious Eastland School for Girls, which Kimberly was attending, in a spin-off series called The Facts of Life.  She was replaced as housekeeper first by the somewhat grumpy Adelaide, and then by cheerful Pearl.  Dudley arrived on the scene in 1981 as Arnold's best buddy, while Charlene was Willis' girlfriend for a time.  Perhaps the most notable addition to all their lives came in 1984.  After years of fruitless matchmaking by his sister Sophia and by the kids, Drummond finally fell in love--with a feisty TV-exercise-show hostess named Maggie.  They were married in February 1984, adding her young son Sam to the Drummond household.  In the fall of 1984 Kimberly graduated from high school and went away to study in Paris.

When Diff'rent Strokes premiered NBC had few comedies on its schedule, and it used its new hit to help out some of the others.  First Facts of Life began with a crossover episode.  Then Drummond just happened to buy the Portland, Oregon, radio station where Larry Adler (principal character on Hello, Larry) was a talk-show host, leading to some visits there; Larry and Phillip, it seemed, were old army buddies.

Coleman was 10 when this series began.  He was born with a congenital kidney problem and received a kidney transplant at the age of five, which resulted in his being smaller than normal for his age (a condition that would continue throughout his life).  An uncommonly bright and articulate youngster, he seemed quite happy to be alive, and became a frequent and popular guest on talk shows and other series.

NBC aired reruns of Diff'rent Strokes on weekdays from April 1982 to December 1983 and from July to September 1984.


More facts about the show and cast members can be found in the Did You Know? section.


Series summary from The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946-Present

The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946-Present

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