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Diff'rent Strokes aired from November 1978 until August 1986 on NBC and ABC.

For more on Diff'rent Strokes go to Diff'rent Strokes Online right here at Sitcoms Online.

An Article from The New York Times

Mrs. Reagan Will Act In Antidrug TV Role

Published: January 15, 1983

Nancy Reagan will appear in an antidrug cameo role on the NBC-TV comedy ''Diff'rent Strokes,'' her press secretary said Thursday.

It will be Mrs. Reagan's first professional role since she appeared with Ronald Reagan in the movie ''Hellcats of the Navy'' in 1957 and only the first television acting appearance by a President's wife since Betty Ford retrieved her husband's pipe from Lou Grant on the ''Mary Tyler Moore Show'' in 1975.


Dana Plato's Obituary From CNN

Child star Dana Plato's life ends with overdose

May 9, 1999

MOORE, Oklahoma (CNN) -- After childhood fame and a troubled adulthood that included brushes with the law and battles with substance abuse, "Diff'rent Strokes" star Dana Plato died Saturday of a drug overdose.

She was 34 and leaves behind a 14-year-old son.

Plato was discovered unconscious at the home of her fiance's parents after failing to wake up from a nap. Efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead on arrival at Southwest Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

She apparently took the painkiller Loritab along with the tranquilizer Valium before napping.

"The death appears to be an accidental overdose. We don't suspect suicide," said police Sgt. Scott Singer. Final toxicology results could take as long as six weeks.

Plato and her fiance, Robert Menchaca, had stopped at his parents' home in Moore -- an Oklahoma City suburb hit by tornadoes earlier in the week -- for Mother's Day after she made an appearance on Howard Stern's radio show in New York.

Plato denied drug use on Stern show

Ironically, she had gone on Stern's show to rebut comments by a former roommate that she was taking drugs. Plato insisted she had been sober for years, although she said she was taking painkillers because she had her wisdom teeth removed four months ago.

From 1978 to 1984, Plato starred as Kimberly Drummond, the daughter of a wealthy man who took in two disadvantaged boys, on the NBC sitcom "Diff'rent Stokes." The popular series also starred Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman.

By 1991, battling alcohol and drug problems, Plato was arrested after robbing a video store in Las Vegas. She was given five years probation. But in 1992, she was arrested again for forging prescriptions for Valium.

"If I hadn't gotten caught, it could have been the worst thing that happened to me because I could have died of a drug overdose," she told reporters in 1992.

In recent years, Plato's career had included mainly low-budget films, including "Bikini Beach Race" and "Different Strokes: A Story of Jack and Jill ... and Jill." She also posed for Playboy magazine.

Other cast members ran into trouble

Plato is not the only "Diff'rent Strokes" cast member to run into trouble after the series went off the air.

Bridges also struggled with drug addiction and in 1990 was acquitted on charges of shooting a drug dealer. Three years later, he pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession and carrying a loaded weapon.

Coleman endured a bitter legal battle with his parents over his television earnings, which he ultimately won. In February, he received a 90-day suspended sentence after pleading no contest to charges that he hit an autograph seeker.

Correspondent Sherri Sylvester and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Here is Nedra Volz's Obituary from the LA Times

Nedra Volz -- character actress
January 29, 2003|By Myrna Oliver, Los Angeles Times

Nedra Volz, a character actress remembered for her early 1980s roles as housekeeper Adelaide Brubaker on the popular television comedy "Diff'rent Strokes" and postmistress Miz Emma Tisdale on "The Dukes of Hazzard," has died.

She was 94.

Ms. Volz, who played her customary "old lady" role in her final film, "The Great White Hype," which was released in 1996, died Jan. 20 in Mesa, Ariz., of complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Born in Montrose, Iowa, to vaudeville parents, she hit the boards as "Baby Nedra" and sang with a band as a young woman. But she did little acting until she became a senior citizen, making her film debut in the 1973 comedy "Your Three Minutes Are Up," starring Beau Bridges and Ron Leibman.

Ms. Volz gained more attention when she concentrated on roles as elderly women for television sitcoms beginning in a 1975 episode of "Good Times."

That put her in great demand for grandmother and old-lady parts, especially after she appeared in regular roles in two of producer Norman Lear's summer television series -- in "A Year at the Top" in 1977 and "Hanging In" in 1979.

By the 1980s, the diminutive, white-haired woman had arrived. She appeared on television almost weekly, sometimes more frequently, from 1980 through 1986.

First came "Diff'rent Strokes" when she stepped in to care for Conrad Bain's mixed Drummond family household featuring Gary Coleman. She remained on the show through 1982, although she also became the postmistress of Hazzard from 1981 through 1983.

Ms. Volz ended her regular sitcom series run as the bail bondswoman giving assignments to Lee Majors' stunt-man detective character on "The Fall Guy" from 1985 until the series ended in 1986.

But she remained a popular guest for almost 20 years on series such as "Alice," "Maude," "One Day at a Time," "Night Court," "Coach," "The Commish" and "Babes." She also appeared in films such as "Moving Violations" and "Earth Girls Are Easy."

Here is Gary Coleman's Obituary from The New York Times

Gary Coleman, Diff'rent Strokes Star, Dies at 42

Published: May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman, the former child star of the hit television series Diff'rent Strokes, who dealt with a well-publicized string of financial and personal difficulties after the show ended, died on Friday in Provo, Utah. He was 42 and lived in Santaquin, a small town near Provo.

Mr. Coleman was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center on Wednesday as a result of a head injury caused by a fall. He suffered a brain hemorrhage and died after being removed from life support, a hospital spokeswoman, Janet Frank, said.

Mr. Coleman had been hospitalized twice this year with seizure-related problems and had been in and out of hospitals all his life, receiving treatment for congenital kidney disease. The treatment was said to have stunted his growth.

Mr. Coleman, who was 4 feet 8 inches tall, had a kidney transplant at 5 and a second one when he was 16.

Diff'rent Strokes, seen on NBC from 1978 to 1985 and on ABC from 1985 to 1986, was a comedy about a wealthy white New Yorker (Conrad Bain) who adopts two underprivileged black brothers, Arnold (played by Mr. Coleman) and Willis (Todd Bridges). Mr. Coleman made his character the little-boy version of America's sweetheart.

When he first strutted into our living rooms in 1978, Bella Stumbo wrote in The Los Angeles Times Magazine in 1990, Mr. Coleman looked like a lovable, smart-mouthed 6-year-old thrilled to be playing some new game.

Viewers loved watching him make short work of bigotry and pretension, Ms. Stumbo continued. He was sunshine, contagious joy, she wrote, and such was his natural comedic gift that he was hailed as a child genius by veterans like Lucille Ball and Bob Hope.

But there was an undercurrent to the show's portrayals.

At the time, Arnold struck audiences as an endlessly endearing trickster figure, whose Harlem-based sensitivity to being hustled had been reduced to a sweetie-pie affectation: What you talkin about, Willis? Virginia Heffernan wrote in The New York Times in 2006, quoting Mr. Coleman's signature line. Arnold was supposed to be shrewd and nobody's fool, but also misguided; after learning his lessons, he was easily tamed and cuddled. Ms. Heffernan called the characterization a form of latter-day minstrelsy.

Looking back at his childhood, Mr. Coleman saw himself as having been used. He sued his parents and his former manager in 1989, accusing them of misappropriating his trust fund. In 1999 he filed for bankruptcy protection. (During the same period, his young Diff'rent Strokes co-stars were having problems of their own. Mr. Bridges was tried on charges of attempted murder in 1990 but acquitted. Dana Plato, who played the daughter of Conrad Bain's character, was arrested at least twice and died of a drug overdose in 1999.)

Beginning in the 1990s, Mr. Coleman was arrested several times and charged with assault and disorderly conduct. A year ago he was arrested on domestic violence charges. He and his former wife, the former Shannon Price, appeared on the reality show Divorce Court in 2008.

Gary Wayne Coleman was born on Feb. 8, 1968, in Zion, Ill., a small city in the state's northeastern corner. He was adopted as an infant by W. G. Coleman, a forklift operator, and his wife, Edmonia Sue, a nurse practitioner.

As a young boy, he was cast in a commercial for a Chicago bank, offering a toy lion as a promotion. You should have a Hubert doll, the boy told viewers. Years later, Bob Greene, the Chicago Tribune columnist, recalled Mr. Coleman's impact in that local ad campaign: If there is chemistry with the camera, six words can make you a star.

He was spotted by an agent for the television producer Norman Lear and brought to Hollywood for a project that never came to fruition, a new version of the Our Gang comedies. Instead he was cast in Diff'rent Strokes and was soon earning thousands of dollars per episode. At his peak he earned $3 million a year.

But after the series ended, his career spiraled downward. He made 20 or so television appearances over the next the two decades, as well as a handful of feature films. (His last was the 2009 Midgets vs. Mascots, a broad comedy.) But he also tried earning a living outside show business, even working as a security guard at one point. In 2003 he was one of 135 candidates in the carnival-like California gubernatorial recall election; he came in eighth, right after Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler.

Mr. Coleman's difficulties are parodied in the Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q, in which a character named Gary Coleman is the superintendent of a run-down building in an undesirable neighborhood. Mr. Coleman talked about suing the show's producers but never did.

His survivors include his wife and his parents, who were estranged from their son. His mother told The Associated Press that she had prayed that nothing like this would happen before we could sit with Gary and Shannon and say, We're here and we love you.

We just didn't want to push him, she added.

Mr. Coleman readily talked to interviewers about how unhappy his television success and its trappings had made him. I would not give my first 15 years to my worst enemy, he said in an A.P. interview in 2001. And I don't even have a worst enemy.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 9, 2010
An obituary on May 29 about the actor Gary Coleman referred incorrectly to one of his survivors. Shannon Price is his former wife. (She was identified as his wife at the time of Mr. Coleman's death, but she later confirmed that they divorced in 2008.)

Here is Conrad Bain's Obituary from The New York Times

Conrad Bain, Father on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, Dies at 89


Conrad Bain, an accomplished stage and film actor who was best known for a late-career role on television as the white adoptive father of two poor black boys on the long-running comedy “Diff’rent Strokes,” died on Monday in Livermore, Calif. He was 89.

His daughter, Jennifer Bain, confirmed the death on Wednesday.

Mr. Bain had been familiar to television viewers as Dr. Arthur Harmon, a neighbor of Bea Arthur’s title character on “Maude,” when he joined the cast of “Diff’rent Strokes” in 1978, the beginning of an eight-season run. He played Phillip Drummond, a wealthy Manhattan widower who had promised his dying housekeeper, who was black and lived in Harlem, that he would rear her sons, Arnold (Gary Coleman) and Willis (Todd Bridges).

Drummond had a biological daughter, Kimberly, played by Dana Plato, and the show’s plotlines interwove punch lines with larger lessons about the experiences of a racially blended family.

Mr. Bain’s Drummond was stiff but steady and warm when necessary, the implication being that willingly adopting and nurturing poor, older black children attested to the strength of his character.

“You know, a lot of people just talk of taking on bigots,” Drummond said to Kimberly in an early episode, after she had rejected a suitor who told her he did not like being around black people, “but very few people ever really do.”

Drummond’s gentle moralizing, as well as his gentle language — using “bigots” rather than “racists” — was central to the show, which was popular with both black and white viewers. But the show was also criticized as simplistic and patronizing.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., writing in The New York Times in 1989, three years after the show’s final season, said “Diff’rent Strokes” followed a tradition of “domestication” and “cultural dwarfism” of black men in mainstream entertainment, “in which small black ‘boys’ (arrested adolescents who were much older than the characters they played) were adopted by tall, successful white males,” who “represented the myth of the benevolent paternalism of the white upper class.”

Mr. Coleman, who was diminutive because of treatments related to a congenital kidney disease, said later that he had come to dislike the scenes in which, even when he had become a teenager in real life, his character continued to hop into Mr. Bain’s lap for yet another light lecture.

In one final-season episode that focused on older foster children, Drummond looked into the camera and said: “Being father to these boys brought a warmth and richness into my life that I never could possibly have imagined. And of course I was able to give two kids a chance that they might otherwise have been denied.”

Drummond delivered an occasional cultural jab as well. In an early episode he tells Arnold he is going out for dinner with a friend from England.

“England?” Arnold says. “Isn’t that where they talk funny?”

“No,” Mr. Drummond replies, “that’s the Bronx.”

Jennifer Bain said her father was warm, loving and politically liberal, but bore few other similarities to Drummond.

“My father was far more interesting than that character,” Ms. Bain said, adding, “We were a very intellectual, artsy family.”

Conrad Stafford Bain was born on Feb. 4, 1923, in Lethbridge, Alberta, in Canada. He attended the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta and served as a sergeant in the Canadian Army from 1943 to 1946. He then moved to New York, where he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

He spent much of the next 30 years in the theater, making his New York debut Off Broadway in 1956 in “The Iceman Cometh.” In 1971 he appeared in Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People” by the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center.

Besides his daughter, he is survived by two sons, Mark and Kent, and a twin brother, Bonar. His wife of more than 60 years, the abstract painter and art collector Monica Bain (born Monica Sloan), died in 2009.

The three child actors who starred alongside Mr. Bain on “Diff’rent Strokes” struggled in their private lives with substance abuse and legal and financial problems. Mr. Coleman died in 2010 at 42. Ms. Plato died of a drug overdose in 1999 at 34. Mr. Bridges was acquitted of attempted murder in 1990.

Mr. Bridges, who remained in contact with Mr. Bain, said in a statement that “in addition to being a positive and supportive father figure both on and off screen, Conrad was well loved and made going to work each day enjoyable for all of us.”

Todd Bridges on TV Dad Conrad Bain: 'He Treated Me Better Than My Own Father'

5:16 PM PST 1/16/2013 by Seth Abramovitch

The "Diff'rent Strokes" actor says he "cried all day" over the loss of his co-star.

The death of Conrad Bain at age 89 has hit no one harder than Todd Bridges, who for eight seasons played adopted son to Bain's millionaire character Mr. Drummond on the hit NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.

Now the sole survivor of the show's core cast -- Dana Plato committed suicide in 1999, and Gary Coleman died after falling down a flight of stairs in 2010 -- Bridges says he'll miss the man who was his surrogate father both on and off the screen.

"This is probably one of the most heart-wrenching days I’ve had in a long time," Bridges, now 47, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "That Conrad’s not going to be around anymore to talk to. Whenever I needed advice, I’d call Conrad."

The two first met in 1977, when a 12-year-old Bridges -- who had already starred alongside Abe Vigoda on ABC's Barney Miller spinoff, Fish -- was cast with Bain and Coleman to star in a 20-minute presentation for NBC executives. The chemistry between the trio was so effortless, the network brass bought a full season on the spot.

"First time in history they bought 26 shows based on a presentation like that -- a balcony scene that me, Conrad and Gary worked on together," Bridges recalls.

Diff'rent Strokes was an instant hit with audiences, which Bridges partly attributes to the country's frayed social landscape at the time: "It was during a time that race relations were kind of poor in America, and it kind of hit home that it doesn’t matter what color you are. Whoever God puts in front of you is who you’re supposed to love," he said.

Bridges and Bain instantly bonded, as they'd both regularly show up early to work -- and the fatherly Bain filled a void in Bridges' life.

"He was a really good man," Bridges says. "He really was like Mr. Drummond. Just an all-around nice guy. He treated me better than my own father treated me."

The ensuing years brought plenty of turmoil for the show's young stars, including Bridges' much-publicized addiction to crack cocaine in his 20s and an arrest for the murder of a drug dealer, for which he was later acquitted. Through it all, Bridges says, Bain was there to offer a sympathetic ear and his advice.

Eventually, Bridges got clean and had a family of his own, beginning with son Spencir Bridges -- at 15, now a busy working actor who has appeared on episodes of House M.D. and iCarly and in the 2003 Eddie Murphy film Daddy Day Care.

"When I had my son, I took him to Conrad's house and he loved him, played chess with him, called him his grandson," Bridges says. "He just really knew how to take care of people."

"I cried all day. I can’t even cry anymore. I'll truly miss that man," he adds.

To read some articles about Diff'rent Strokes go to and and

To watch some clips from diff'rent Strokes go to

For Tim's TV Showcase go to

For James' Diff'rent Strokes Page go to

For More On Dana Plato's Death go to

For The Dana Plato Tribute Site go to

For an Article on Diff'rent Strokes go to

For some Diff'rent Strokes-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to

For a Review of Diff'rent Strokes go to
Date: Tue January 17, 2006 � Filesize: 17.3kb � Dimensions: 200 x 282 �
Keywords: Diff'rent Strokes: Season 1 DVD


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