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Diff'rent Strokes

Conrad Bains (the father of the two boys and Dana Plato's character....mmmmmm but we miss her too) died on January 16, 2013.  He was 89 years old.

Gary Coleman Dies At Age 42 (May 28, 2010). 

Dana Plato died May 8, 1999 at the age of 34 years.  She died as a result of an overdose of the painkiller Lortab along with Soma.

These deaths are all sad and untimely.  I don't know how healthy Conrad Bains was in general but he didn't seem like a smoker or drinker.  

Gary Coleman had all kinds of health and life problems.

Dana Plato may have been with us today if she was more careful with her meds.  Sometimes it's good to have handlers to watch your moves.  She seemed to have disconnected from the celebrity circuit so there was no one watching her.  She was planning all kinds of comeback activities but that ended.

When Menchaca awoke shortly before 9 p.m., he couldn't wake her. "Robert called out, 'There's something wrong with Dana,' " says his mother, Marcela Menchaca, a nurse technician who was sitting outside with Albert, another son. "We dashed over there and started CPR." It was too late.

Although friends believe Plato might have been upset by the predictably cruel jokes that accompanied her visit to the Stern show the day before, authorities at this point regard the death as an accidental overdose. "There was no indication of suicide," says Moore Police Sgt. Scott Singer. Indeed, advises Ernest D. Lykissa, M.D., a Houston toxicologist, Lortab is easily abused and potentially lethal, especially when combined with Valium. Lortab, he adds, "is a nuclear bomb you give yourself."

Yet some who knew Plato couldn't help assuming the worst scenario. Since her early teens, the actress had taken one unsavory detour after another, until her life and career turned into that tragic cliche of the TV age: the cute kid star who stumbles into adulthood—then free-falls. In the 15 years since she was written out of Diff'rent Strokes, Plato crossed the line from fame to notoriety, most notably in 1991, when she held up a Las Vegas video store with a pellet gun, taking $164. Plato's victim, a cashier, reported to 911: "I've just been robbed by the girl who played Kimberly on Diff'rent Strokes."

She repeatedly admitted to substance abuse, chiefly of Valium and alcohol. "I was so wasted, it would take me a good five days to sober up and go to work," Plato told the cable entertainment channel E! last summer. She had a rough time being a mother to her son Tyler, 14, who for the most part has been raised by his father, Lanny Lambert, who lives in Tulsa, and paternal grandmother, Joan Richardson. Plato was often broke, even though she once earned $25,000 an episode for her series. She posed for Playboy in 1989 and, at her nadir, starred in a 1997 soft-core porn flick, Different Strokes: The Story of Jack & Jill...and Jill. In the words of former Partridge Family star Danny Bonaduce: "[Former child stars] have got a big billboard that says 'failure.' "

Yet, Plato occasionally pulled herself together—and somehow preserved a fundamental if odd sweetness. Sara Corwin, an L.A. photographer who was a friend, recalls, "She would call me at all hours to tell me things like, 'I just saw the most beautiful flower today.' " Even when she wound up working as a cashier in a Las Vegas dry-cleaning shop in 1990, customers were touched by her friendly lack of airs. "Normally," noted onetime customer Phil Harrington, "you don't have a former TV actress picking up your pants." Of course, beneath the gentle manner was a truly troubled soul. Plato's former drug counselor Ray Slaughter told E! last summer that at one point she was drinking almost a gallon of vodka a day. As of last September she was still making attempts to stay sober, says Gerald Wolff, her manager from 1993 to 1998. "But," he adds, "she started to go crazy again. I was hoping she was going to straighten herself out."

The same has often been said, over the years, about Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, who played Plato's two brothers, Arnold and Willis, adopted by her cheery father, Philip Drummond (Conrad Bain). Bridges, now 33, has a police record dating back to 1983. In 1990 the former cocaine addict was acquitted of shooting an accused drug dealer in an L.A. crack house. The diminutive Coleman, 30, feuded with his parents over his $6 million fortune, worked as a security guard at a mall and, last year, was arrested for allegedly punching a female fan who had approached him for an autograph. Diff'rent Strokes' creative supervisor Al Burton remembers meeting Plato at a party in 1990. "She told me, 'I just posed nude for Playboy, Gary is suing his parents, Todd was arrested. That Drummond sure was a terrible father.' "

Bridges recently told USA Today he now stays sober with a 12-step program, and Coleman was required to take anger-management classes after pleading no contest in the autograph incident. Plato, though, always remained a concern to former teen star Paul Petersen (The Donna Reed Show, 1958-66), now 53 and head of A Minor Consideration, a watchdog organization for the rights of child actors. "I was doing the Sally Jessy Raphael Show [in May 1990] with Dana," he says, "and she bumped into me before the show, fresh out of the bathroom, with cocaine powder all over her nose. Five minutes later she was on the air saying she's clean and sober." Plato, he says, "lied to everybody."

Menchaca, who met her in Tulsa only four months ago, is distraught over the suggestion that drugs caused her death. "Dana's name has been dragged through the dirt," he says. "I want the world to know what kind of person she was. I learned from her it's the little things that count. Never take life for granted."

Plato kept trying to repair her own damaged life. She went on Stern's show to refute the claims of a woman named Jennifer Wejbe, who had once been her L.A. roommate. Wejbe told The National Enquirer in March that she and Plato had been lovers, that Plato was still a drug user and that the actress had run off with her money. Callers to the show mocked Plato as a has-been, a lesbian and a mental case. The occasional well-wisher reduced her to tears.

Plato, says her cousin Kim Jaafil of Northridge, Calif., was "always an outgoing, bubbly kid, very happy and well-adjusted." Still, her world was never stable. She was given up for adoption at birth by her mother, Linda Strain, then 17 and now the married mother of three in Springfield, Mo. Her adoptive parents—Dean Plato, who owned a trucking company, and Kay, who oversaw her career—divorced before Dana was 4. After that, Dean seldom played a part in her life, except in 1984, when he unsuccessfully sued her for support. Not long after the adoption, Kay was diagnosed with a rare blood disease that killed her 20 years later. Because of her illness, Jaafil suggests, "Kay wanted to give Dana everything while she was still around."

As a child star, Dana lacked very little. She began acting at age 6, appearing in some 250 commercials before Al Burton cast the then-13-year-old in Diff'rent Strokes. "But she was always insecure," says Sy Levin, who managed her from age 13 to 17. "She was third on the totem pole. It was always Coleman, then it was Todd. Then it was her."

There were problems far more serious than professional rivalry. At 14, according to Levin, she overdosed on Valium. By the time she was 15, she was coming to the set drunk. "She would show up in a daze, in a funk," says Burton. Then, at 18, she got pregnant by her 21-year-old boyfriend, and her Strokes stint was over. Conrad Bain, for one, was disturbed by her recklessness. "She deliberately got pregnant while doing the series," he says. "When I spoke to her about it, she was enthusiastic about having done that." She later told him, "When I get the baby, I will never be alone again."

Years later, Plato told fellow camper Charles Inman that she didn't regret the decision to have her child. Tyler was born in July 1984, four months after Plato married Lambert. "I would never trade Tyler for anything," she said. But when the couple divorced in 1989, custody of Tyler was awarded to his father. With her substance-abuse troubles, "I was making him crazy," she later said in an interview with USA Today, "so I sent him away." The boy lived with Plato periodically, however, and she hoped to have him back soon, according to one friend. "She wanted her son," says Inman. "She wanted unconditional love."

Plato was devastated when her mother Kay died in 1988. "They had remained very close," says Jaafil. "It was a real blow"—one Plato believed tipped her into the drinking-and-drug spree that climaxed with her comically inept 1991 video-store robbery. Her disguise of dark glasses and black hat was so transparent "even she knew it was a laughingstock," says Clark County D.A. Stewart Bell, her attorney at the time. "The robbery was a cry for help." (She got out of jail when Wayne Newton, who'd never met her, posted her $13,000 bail. "He felt sorry for her," says his spokeswoman. "Here she was alone in a jail cell, and no one came forward.") Another cry for help came that December, when Plato began forging Valium prescriptions. She earned two five-year probation sentences for the offenses.

That same year, Plato sought out her biological mother, Linda Strain, and eventually appeared with her on The Maury Povich Show. "Linda was thrilled," says Strain's sister Becky Heidger. "We watched this girl grow up on TV. She looked identical to our brother's daughter, but we never put two and two together." The reunion was short-lived, however. Plato eventually stopped speaking to Strain. "Dana turned Linda's world upside-down and made it wonderful," says Heidger, "for a very short time."

Meanwhile, there were many people trying to keep Plato emotionally grounded. She was always welcome in Tulsa by her ex-mother-in-law. "I was very fond of her," says Joan Richardson. "We were her only family." Says child-actor advocate Paul Petersen: "I can't tell you the number of checks I had to give Dana to cover the rent." Last year he introduced her to Fred Potts, 41, an aspiring filmmaker in Tucson. They became engaged last June but soon broke up over her drug use. Still, Potts encouraged her to leave L.A. behind. "She was going to settle in, be an Arizona beach bum, sit by the pool, relax, no drugs, no alcohol," says Potts. The move never happened: "I never got an explanation." And former Family Affair child star Johnny Whitaker, 39, now a talent manager, took her on as a client. Himself in recovery, he talked to Plato about sobriety and asked her to check in daily. "But she'd only call about once or twice a week," he says. "For the past three weeks, Dana hadn't called at all."

By then, she was with Robert Menchaca, whom few of Plato's friends had even heard of until her death. "I didn't meet Dana as a celebrity," says Menchaca. "We dated a few times, and things just clicked." Now he, too, has lost Plato. At a press conference at his home on May 11, he said, "I'll always love her, and I know the millions of fans out there love her."

A viewing was held in nearby Oklahoma City for Plato's family that same day. Her son Tyler "is holding up well," says Whitaker, who spoke with him by phone. "His grandmother tells me he's the spitting image of Dana. And he asked me, 'When all this is over and done with and I come to Los Angeles, do you think that you could manage me?' I guess it's in the blood."

Tom Gliatto
Champ Clark, Ken Baker and Monica Rizzo in Los Angeles, Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston, Gabrielle Cosgriff in Moore, Mary M. Harrison in Missouri, Melissa Schorr in Las Vegas, Tim Roche in Navarre and Bob Meadows in New York City.

May 29, 2010 Saturday

Okay so I mentioned Gary Coleman died yesterday....well he was taken off of life support by his wife.

I had a late night so I fell asleep before I could tell you what I know.  I don't think it's a case of "I know something you don't know."  I could have taken my computer to the gala event I was at buy how would I hold the wine glass and plate of stuff that is just crackers with fancy looking stuff on it?

I was away from my computer from 8am to about midnight but I was on my feet too so when I booted my computer up I was on fumes.

Okay so here is what I heard on the radio and then again on the news at 11pm.

Gary Coleman had some kind of a fall and hit his head.  He was rushed to the hospital where he slipped into a coma Thursday May 27, 2010.  He was on life support until some time Friday May 28, 2010.  On Friday his wife decided to take Coleman off of life support and so Gary Coleman died at the age of 42.

I used love watching Diff'rent Strokes for many reasons.  "What you talking about Willis?" as well as other witty comments from Coleman and the rest of the gang.  It didn't hurt that Dana Plato (Kimberly) was so cute.  

Dana Plato was another tragic story.  She died of an overdose from Vanadom and Vicodin.

I will try to come back to that another day.

Coleman was hugely famous for his role on Diff'rent Strokes but not much after.  He was a security guard and did some other dead end jobs.  He did try to become governor but everything he did ended badly.  His health was never good.  He got in trouble with the law on many occasions.  He took his parents to court around the time he was on Diff'rent Strokes because they weren't handling his money properly.

Coleman filed bankruptcy around then too.

We will all miss Gary Coleman.  I think he was a nice person in general.  He had a lot to deal with it from birth.  I will watch the news and listen to the radio and read the newspapers and scour the internet.  When I heard Gary Coleman died I looked at the radio and yelled "What you talking about?"


Diff'rent Strokes Format: Sitcom Created by: Jeff Harris, Bernie Kukoff Starring: Gary Coleman (1978-1986), Conrad Bain (1978-1986) Todd Bridges (1978-1985), Dana Plato (1978-1984), Charlotte Rae (1978-1979), Nedra Volz (1980-1982), Mary Jo Catlett (1982-1986) Janet Jackson (1980-1984), Dixie Carter (1984-1985) Danny Cooksey (1984-1986), Shavar Ross (1980-1986), Mary Ann Mobley (1985-1986)

Country of origin: United States No. of seasons: 8

No. of episodes: 189


Running time: 30 Minutes


Original channel: NBC (1978-1985), ABC (1985-1986)

Original run: November 3, 1978 – March 7, 1986


Followed by The Facts of Life

Diff'rent Strokes is a popular American sitcom that aired on the NBC television network from November 3, 1978 to May 4, 1985, and on ABC from September 27, 1985 to March 7, 1986, when the series was again cancelled. The series can been seen in reruns on DVD, BET and WPCH-TV in Atlanta, Georgia.


This sitcom starred Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson and Todd Bridges as his older brother, Willis. They played two African-American children from a poor Harlem neighborhood whose deceased mother previously worked for a rich white widower, Philip Drummond (Conrad Bain), who eventually adopted them. They lived in a penthouse with Mr. Drummond, Mr. Drummond's daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato), and their maid.

There were three maids during the show's run: Edna Garrett (played by Charlotte Rae), Adelaide Brubaker (played by Nedra Volz), and Pearl Gallagher (played by Mary Jo Catlett). They lived on Park Avenue in New York City. As Arnold, Coleman popularized the catch phrase "Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?". It often varies, depending on whom he is addressing--"Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Kimberly?, "Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Dad?", "Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Sam?", etc. The series was popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and is still mentioned in pop culture references today.

In Season 1, Charlotte Rae appeared in every episode as Edna Garrett, but she departed the show partway through the second season to star in her own top-rated, long-running spin-off, The Facts of Life. Following Rae's departure, Nedra Volz took over as the housekeeper, Adelaide Brubaker. Although she was not part of the official cast in Season 2, Volz appeared several times.

In the fourth season, future Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Janet Jackson played Willis's steady girlfriend Charlene DuPrey. Janet Jackson remained on the series (although she was not a cast member) until the end of Season 6, when Charlene and Willis decided to break up.

In Season 5, Mary Jo Catlett portrayed Pearl Gallagher, the last of the three maids, and joined the cast as a series regular. Pearl appeared in almost every episode until the final season. Midway through Season 6, Dana Plato became pregnant and approached the producers of the show to include her pregnancy. Initially they agreed to add it, but later recanted and she was fired. Plato's character, Kimberly, was written out of the storylines by saying that she lived in Paris for a couple of years. Plato did not appear as a series regular in the final two seasons of the series, but she made occasional guest appearances. By Season 7, ratings were beginning to sag, so new characters were added to open up future storylines. Dixie Carter and Danny Cooksey portrayed recently divorced television aerobics instructor Margaret "Maggie" McKinney, and her son, Sam McKinney. Carter and Cooksey joined the cast for Season 7 as series regulars. Philip and Maggie developed interest in each other and married at the end of the sixth season with special guest stars including Rae, Goodman, Volz and Jackson.

Carter departed from the series at the end of the seventh season. In the summer of 1985, NBC canceled the series due to poor ratings. In the final season of the series, Mary Ann Mobley replaced Dixie Carter as the new Maggie McKinney Drummond, and ABC aired the show on Friday nights. ABC canceled the series after 19 episodes, and aired its final episode on March 7, 1986.

The show was a success mostly because of its attempt to bring together two parts of society that usually would not be combined. The pragmatic compromise of the show later won its acclaim to Broadway.

Diff'rent Strokes


Conrad Bain - Phillip Drummond Gary Coleman - Arnold Jackson

Todd Bridges - Willis Jackson

Dana Plato - Kimberly Drummond

Charlotte Rae - Mrs. Edna Garrett

Shavar Ross - Dudley Ramsey

Nedra Volz - Adelaide Brubaker

Dixie Carter/Mary Ann Mobley - Mrs. Maggie McKinney-Drummond

Danny Cooksey - Sam McKinney

Mary Jo Catlett - Pearl Gallagher

Diff'rent Strokes


The television sitcom The Facts of Life (1979 – 1988) was a spin-off of Diff'rent Strokes, involving Mr. Drummond's former maid, Mrs. Garrett, as the house-mother for a dormitory at an all-girls private school. The series was introduced in the first season Diff'rent Strokes episode "The Girls School". There were a number of changes made for the actual series; and Kimberly (featured in "The Girls School" as a pupil of the school) did not appear in the spin-off. In addition, Charlotte Rae was guaranteed that she could return to Diff'rent Strokes, should the new series fail. When The Facts of Life proved to be a success, a number of its characters made guest appearances on Diff'rent Strokes.

Diff'rent Strokes


Diff'rent Strokes was a hit for the first three seasons. This is a list of the ratings:

1978-1979: #27

1979-1980: #26

1980-1981: #19

Post-show troubles

Three of the child stars ended up having problems after the show ended. Dana Plato went on to pose for Playboy, and also appeared in softcore films. She was later arrested twice (once for armed robbery, again for forging a prescription for Valium). She died of a drug overdose in 1999 at the age of only 34.

Todd Bridges was arrested in 1994 after allegedly ramming someone's car after an argument. He also had issues with illegal drugs for several years, before turning his life around. He has since traveled across the U.S.A., touring schools discussing the dangers of drug use.

In 1989, Gary Coleman sued his parents and his former manager over misappropriation of his trust fund. Although he was awarded over $1,000,000 in the decision, he filed for bankruptcy in 1999. Coleman was charged with assault in 1998 after he punched a woman while he was working as a security guard at a shopping mall. In 2001, Coleman (still working as a security guard) was videotaped trying to stop a vehicle from entering the mall. The driver ridiculed him, and released the tape to be broadcast on numerous television shows. In the mid-2000s, Coleman lent his voice and likeness to the controversial videogame Postal2. In 2007, Coleman was cited for disorderly conduct in Provo, Utah for having a "heated discussion" with a woman.

Later appearances

A decade after the series ended, in 1996, Gary Coleman and Conrad Bain reprised their roles for an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air entitled "I, Done Part 2". In their scene, they reference Willis by name before meeting Will Smith's character, leading to Coleman uttering a variation of his catchphrase, "What'chu talkin' about, Will?"

Very special episodes

Diff'rent Strokes was also known (and frequently mocked) for its many "very special episodes", most notably an anti-drug episode ("The Reporter", in Season 5) that featured then-First Lady Nancy Reagan, who promoted her "Just Say No" campaign, and an episode that guest starred Gordon Jump as a pedophile bicycle-shop owner, who attempted to sexually molest Arnold and his best friend Dudley (Shavar Ross). The sexual abuse episode was credited somewhat for bringing the crime of child molestation (and its warning signs) more into the public eye.

Other episodes involved Arnold and Willis being rejected by Mr. Drummond's old prep school because they aren't wealthy enough, a con artist (played by Whitman Mayo) posing as a relative of Arnold and Willis in an attempt to get access to the inheritance they were left by a former neighbor, and Kimberly's new love Roger (who turns out to be racist) not allowing his sister to go to their school's costume ball with Willis because of his race.

In another episode on the dangers of hitchhiking, Kimberly and Arnold were abducted by a deranged man (played by Woody Eney), who initially acted as a "Good Samaritan" and a very nice guy by giving the two of them a ride, and inviting them to his apartment.

In the final season (when the show moved from NBC to ABC), the one-hour season opener revolved around Sam being kidnapped by a bereaved father (played by Royce D. Applegate) to replace his own dead son. In yet another episode, the family discovered that Kimberly was suffering from bulimia after witnessing her devour an entire sheet cake, and then go to the bathroom to vomit.

Another very special episode dealt with Arnold and Sam meeting a street performer. After a performance, she has an epileptic seizure and Sam is scared and thinks she is dying. The boys feel uncomfortable around Karen the performer and when they are making jokes about her seizures, they find out that Pearl, the housekeeper herself has epilepsy but, unlike Karen, has control of her seizures by taking medications.

Music connection

The name of the show was derived from a popular catch phrase, "diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks", popularized by rock band Sly & The Family Stone with their 1968 hit "Everyday People." The show's theme song was written by Al Burton, Alan Thicke, and Gloria Loring.

************************************* The following video is a tribute to celebrities who are no longer with us, including Dana Plato. *************************************


Two unofficial docu-dramas were produced about the show:

In 2000, FOX broadcast a one-hour television movie, After Diff'rent Strokes: When the Laughter Stopped. This film, which starred unknown actors, focused on Dana Plato's life after the show, leading to her untimely death. Todd Bridges guest starred in this film as a drug dealer who sold drugs — to a younger Todd Bridges.

On September 4, 2006, NBC aired a television drama entitled Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Diff'rent Strokes. The film, which chronicles the rise and decline of the sitcom's child stars, also features recent interview clips with Coleman and Bridges. The two also star in the movie as themselves (briefly) in the final scene, standing by Dana Plato's grave.

(Kim Richards on Diffrent Strokes. She was great in Return from Witch Mountain and the other Witch Mountain movies that I still want to see)

International Show Titles

The show was also known as:

Country Show Title

Spain Arnold

France Arnold et Willy

Argentina Blanco y negro

Italy Harlem contro Manhattan (1980-81), Il mio Amico Arnold (1981-1986), Arnold (after 1988)

Brazil Minha Família é uma Bagunça

Japan Arnold boya wa ninkimono

************************************* The following video requires some viewer discretion....not a lot but some people should not wear some things. Basically there is no big deal but parents might want to watch the video first.

The video is from a wrestling video game where some wierd wrestlers take on Mr. Drummond, Kimberly, and Arnold. Guess who wins....... Send me $10 and I'll tell ya. No no.....don't watch the video first. Send the money first.

Enjoy if you have taken my warning under consideration and decide to proceed. *************************************

DVD releases

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released Seasons 1 and 2 of Diff'rent Strokes on DVD for Region 1.

DVD Name Ep# Release Date

The Complete First Season 24 September 14, 2004

The Complete Second Season 26 January 31, 2006

Watch chu talking about?

Avenue Q

The Broadway musical Avenue Q contains a character named Gary Coleman, who, in the opening song "It Sucks To Be Me," sings "I'm Gary Coleman from TV's Diff'rent Strokes. I made a lot of money that got stolen by my folks. Now I'm broke and I'm the butt of everyone's jokes — but I'm here, the superintendent, of Avenue Q," to which the rest of the cast responds (in song) "It sucks to be you!" Before this line, when the character enters, the music plays "Now the world don't move..." which is the first five notes of the Diff'rent Strokes theme song. Dialogue references to Diff'rent Strokes, such as "Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" are also included in the musical. The character of Gary Coleman was originally portrayed by actress Natalie Venetia Belcon. When the real Gary Coleman was asked about the Avenue Q character, Coleman responded, "I wish there was a lawyer on Earth that would sue them for me."



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