Norman Lear was looking for a sitcom auto to pair Conrad Bain through Gary Coleman, and also NBC president Fred Silverman was looking for a task to put his rubber stamp on in his brand-new role in ~ the ratings-starved network. What started as "45 minutes From Harlem," became "Diff"rent Strokes," v the premise as straightforward (or not so simple) together "a comedy about a white millionaire who adopts 2 young, streetwise black brothers."

In November that 1978, "Strokes" replaced the Joe Namath starring "The Waverly Wonders" (Conrad Bain had guest starred twice), and became the struggle everyone had actually hoped for, and also so lot more. The display tackled numerous topics from sexual abuse to racism, alcoholism, drug abuse, kidnapping, and also bullying, landing guest stars ranging from Nancy Reagan come Mr. T, Muhammad Ali come K.I.T.T. From "Knight Rider."

While there were constant subtractions and additions to the actors over 8 seasons, and also troubled and tumultuous lifestyles the the young gibbs during and also after the show"s run, "Diff"rent Strokes" stays a show as charming now as it to be from 1978-1986. Sadly, the end of the key cast, just Todd Bridges (Willis Jackson) and Danny Cooksey (Sam McKinney) space still with us.

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Widowed millionaire Philip Drummond take it on a lot when, together a single father with his own daughter come look after, that did the ideal thing by adopting his deceased housekeeper"s 2 boys. In the years to come he would certainly hire three diff"rent instead of housekeepers, take it on a new wife, a step son, and every difficulty a sitcom can possibly litter at him.

Drummond was in regulate within the show, and Bain had control of the show — he had concept, script and cast approval. That took an excellent satisfaction in functioning on a project that audiences extensively enjoyed. In 1987, Bain reflected, "Best of all was being a component of those youngsters growing up and learning your craft, being able to placed your oar in here and there and also give them aid — that"s what really lugged me joy." He likewise relished his role in help to normalize mixed race family members on TV, receiving fan letter of praise, but also hate from the likes the the Klu Klux Klan.

The former Canadian army sergeant came to new York to further his exhilaration studies, and a stage career to be born. Beginning in the mid-1950s, Bain plot in countless Broadway shows, while eventually landing tiny roles ~ above TV (the clerk on "Dark Shadows") and also in movie (he and also Charlotte Rae showed up in Woody Allen"s "Bananas"). His resume hit an apex in the 1970s once he played Bea Arthur"s pompous conservative neighbor for 6 periods on "Maude," which offered him the leverage and freedom to choose his follow-up job with producer Lear.

Bain didn"t work lot after "Strokes," outside of playing George C. Scott"s cook of staff on the brief lived sitcom "Mr. President," and acting his age as Grandpa in "Postcards native the Edge." His last credit had him stepping ago into his Phillip Drummond persona because that the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" finale, together "son" Gary Coleman. Bain passed away in 2013 at age 89.

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Gary Coleman was short in stature (due to clinical conditions), however gargantuan in talent. A Chicago Harris bank commercial landed him top top Norman Lear"s radar, and cast that in a never-aired pilot for a remake of "The tiny Rascals." 

He next nabbed parts on Lear"s mirrors "The Jeffersons" and "Good Times," prior to he was offered the function of a lifetime — the precocious, infinite quotable ("Wha"choo talkin" "bout, Willis?") Arnold Jackson ~ above "Diff"rent Strokes." Coleman (who was adopted himself) ended up being the star the the show, and also a child in high need for speak shows, movies ("On the appropriate Track" and also "Jimmy the Kid") and also other TV shows, even playing Arnold Jackson top top "Hello, Larry," "The facts of Life," "Silver Spoons," "Amazing Stories," "The fresh Prince the Bel-Air" finale, and his final attributed role, "Robot Chicken."

Yet, the role that characterized him likewise became his albatross. Together far back together 1979, that wasn"t comfortable through his increasing star status, admitting the "being famed is no fun. It"s too much trouble since I can"t it is in myself." and when he ran for branch of California in 2003, that told the brand-new York Times, "I desire to escape that heritage of Arnold Jackson. It would be nice if the civilization thought that me as something more." He finished in 8 hours place, through the way!

Coleman ran into various health, financial and public relation problems throughout his life — many compounded by sewage tabloid attention, others carried on by his authorized in barrel-bottom jobs with names like "Midgets vs. Mascots." He had actually two kidney surgeries, his parental embezzled his income from him, he take it a task as a security guard that had him scrapping through paparazzi, and he was when charged with attack after punching a fan who had asked for his autograph. In his tumultuous last years, the work-related he might find all seemed to be cameos making fun of his own image, mostly in the at an early stage days the celebrity-reality TV. These projects consisted of "The Ben Stiller Show," "The Surreal Life," "Dickie Roberts: former Child Star," and also the music video clip for Moby"s "We space All do of Stars." Coleman died of a brain hemorrhage at age 42 in 2010.

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Dana Plato screen tested for the Kim Richards duty on "Hello, Larry," and was cast instead in Tandem Productions" various other project "Diff"rent Strokes," as Philip"s 13 year-old daughter Kimberly. The character to be protective of her father, newly adopted brothers, and also perhaps periodically too much of a goody two shoes. 

In a 1983 interview, Plato claimed "I would have her do something negative for a change. That character is so candy sweet, it"s sickening." 

Unfortunately, the comment reveals a lot in retrospect about where Plato was headed. Turn off screen, the actress made out through her "brother" Willis, overdosed on Valium, proved up to the set drunk, and at 18 "deliberately acquired pregnant," as screen father Conrad Bain accused she of doing. This resulted in her to essentially be created off the display after season 6 (they sent out her to institution in Paris). Plato"s Kimberly would just make 5 more appearances over the two final seasons.

Plato was an adoptee herself, and also appeared in numerous TV ads together a kid, while also being a dedicated figure skater. At 13 she had actually to choose between the Olympics team or a TV show, and also she take it the "Diff"rent" path. When she had actually some at an early stage promising roles in movies like "Exorcist II: The Heretic" and playing mrs Fonda"s daughter in "California Suite," the work-related dried up after she"d had actually her son, exacerbating her substance abuse issues (at her lowest point, she drank almost a gallon of vodka a day). Through the at an early stage "90s, she was "starring" in projects prefer the well known softcore/slasher CD-Rom videogame "Night Trap," which to be not only responsible because that the development of the ESRB ratings system, but has since been resurrected native its failure right into a young cult classic. 

Plato came to be a tabloid fixture by getting breast implants, posing for "Playboy" in 1989, and two year later, robbing a las Vegas video store v a pellet total (The clerk called 911: "I"ve simply been robbed by the girl who played Kimberly ~ above Diff"rent Strokes.") because that the amount of $160 (she was bailed out by Wayne Newton). In among her final credited roles, Plato went back to a acquainted title, starring in the porno "Different Strokes" in 1998.

Plato"s 1999 death, at period 34, was initially listed as a medicine overdose, but was later on ruled a suicide. In ~ the time, Bain said of Plato"s "tragic case," "I remind her together a beautiful, talented young girl. That"s the means she is in my mind." Making matters even an ext tragic, Plato"s child Tyler Lambert committed suicide two days before the 11th anniversary of hers.

If girlfriend or anyone you understand is struggling with addiction issues, aid is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and also Mental health Services management website or call SAMHSA"s national Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

In bespeak to entice super producer Norman Lear to it is in a component of what became "Diff"rent Strokes," castle made certain to hire among his favorite actresses, Charlotte Rae. She play newly-hired housekeeper Mrs. Garrett, who replaced Mr. Drummond"s vault employee, Arnold and also Willis" deceased mother. In the beginning she made it recognized that "I don"t execute windows and also I don"t execute boys," but Mrs. Garrett quickly softened on them and also their charm, onscreen and off, saying: "I feeling younger than I have in years."

Her character proved so popular that she lasted just 37 episodes prior to being spun-off as headmistress that an every girl"s boarding institution on "The facts of Life." top top the change from "Strokes" to "Facts" she said, "Hopefully, few of Mrs. Garrett"s character will certainly unfold and also I will have the ability to fill she out together a person being. Lock asked me what her first name was and also I stated "Edna." It simply came out." due to health issues, she left that collection after 155 episodes, and also was changed by she college roommate, the late Cloris Leachman. She remained close with Leachman and the "Facts" girls for the remainder of her life.

Charlotte Rae Lubotsky had been a fixture in the people of to chat long prior to her "Stroke" of great luck. She was Al Lewis" mam on "Car 54, Where are You?," and ended up coming to be the wife of the show"s theme song co-composer, john Strauss. They"d likewise collaborate through Woody Allen in 1971"s "Bananas," and in Milos Forman"s "Hair" film from 1979. She was nominated for two Tonys (for 1966"s "Pickwick," and 1969"s "Morning, Noon, and Night"), and also two Emmys (for 1975"s "Queen that the Stardust Ballroom," and in "Facts of Life" in 1982), and even released a pair of albums. She worked well into her twilight years, with her last role, at period 88, in Jonathan Demme"s last dramatic feature, 2015"s "Ricki and the Flash."

After a series of assorted illnesses, cancers and also a history of heart failure, Rae passed away in 2018, at age 92.


When Edna Garrett took off in the center of Season 2, it left another vacancy in the housekeeping needs of the Drummonds. Get in the grandmotherly Adelaide Brubaker, played by Nedra Volz, that joined the fray right when Philip ran because that city the supervisory board in "The Election," and stuck approximately for 22 episodes before being replaced by Pearl Gallagher (Mary Jo Catlett) in Season 5. 

While never ever formally added to the show"s opened credits, she made she presence known with terrific comedic timing and also quips like: "I ran in a race v 2 other civilization once, I came in fourth." Volz had actually a the majority of respect because that "Strokes" producer Norman Lear, and said "He"s a Gray Panther person. That doesn"t prefer his old human being put down."

Born into showbiz, she toured with her vaudeville parents together "Baby Nedra," but gave up acting to go after singing, and then stepped earlier to advanced a family. Year later, she was asked to sign up with a regional theater production, which caused an agent, then commercials (McDonalds, Jack In The Box, Amtrak), and also her late in life career continued to flower from there. The 4′ 11″ wonder said, "If they want a crazy old lady, they obtained me."

She played numerous a stunner lady, consisting of ones in seven different Norman Lear series, working alongside "Strokes" alumni Conrad Bain ~ above "Maude," and also Dody Goodman ~ above "Mary Hartman, mar Hartman." She functioned opposite Dixie Carter on "Filthy Rich" and "Designing Women." Elsewhere, she obtained crazy together a turntable whacker in the pilot of "WKRP in Cincinnati," together postmistress because that "The Dukes of Hazzard," and playing an ancient, farting housekeeper in Blake Edwards" "10." She to be also Wendy"s "Where"s The Beef" lady Clara Peller"s ride in the 1985 film "Moving Violations."

In her complimentary time, she operated as a spokesperson for D.A.R.E., professing "I"m a hug addict." Volz passed away of complications of Alzheimer"s condition in 2003, at age 94.

Hoping to save the series fresh, "Diff"rent Strokes" drummed increase a second wife because that Philip Dummond in Season 6. He fell for highly-successful TV exercise host Maggie McKinney, play by Dixie Carter. 

When the 2 married, she to be a package attend to her own son Sam (Danny Cooksey), i m sorry bumped Arnold native the youngest boy to the function of older brother. Carter was invited to the present with "open arms," but melted bridges ~ above her means out the door, through rumors of she clashing on collection with Gary Coleman. "I served two years. I shouldn"t have actually done it. I"m ashamed and also I"ll never ever live that down," Carter would later on confess. She added, "I take it the task for the money, naught else, and also that was every I gained out of it."

Luckily Dixie Carter (not the wrestling one) found much success and happiness in her following TV sitcom adventure, "Designing Women," together the sassy and also sarcastic Julia Sugarbaker for all 7 seasons and also 163 episodes. Later, she score an Emmy nomination in 2007 for play Kyle MacLachlin"s creepy mother on "Desperate Housewives."

"To me, there"s no feeling as gorgeous together the feeling of singing. It"s favor flying," the Tennessian as soon as spoke of she true passion. She would screen her vocal talents with her career on Broadway, and performed cabaret acts, singing songs varying from Cole Porter come Bob Dylan.

She met her 3rd and final husband, Hal Holbrook, ~ above the set of 1981"s "The killing of Randy Webster," and her last screen role was together Holbrook"s deceased wife in 2009"s "That evening Sun."

Carter died of complications of endometrial cancer in 2010 at period 70, nearly 2 months before Gary Coleman passed. Holbrook died earlier this year at period 95.

When Dixie Carter left "Diff"rent Strokes" and also the present left NBC for abc in 1985, mar Ann Mobley was tasked with becoming Philip Drummond"s second second wife, Maggie McKinney-Drummond. 

She to be a familiar face in the series, previously appearing as Arnold"s teacher that Philip was warm for in Season 2. Mobley was even considered to be the very first Maggie, however they reputed her age distinction with Bain come be as well wide. When called to check out if she was interested in replacing Dixie, she stated "I"d be there in five minutes," and also when asked exactly how she"d play the function diff"rently, she said "shorter. From what ns understand, Dixie is a many taller than I am." Mobley also got to key storyline ideas, and also since she feeling "strongly around the Adam Walsh foundation," they go a memorable episode around her boy Sam getting kidnapped.

To show there to be no difficult feelings in between Dixie Carter and also the mrs who replaced her as Maggie Drummond, Mobley guested on the "Designing Women" Season 5 illustration "A Blast native The Past" together a mrs from the historical culture helping to promote Carter"s genealogical home.

Mobley to be the an initial Mississippian to come to be Miss America, in 1959. She learned acting with Lee Strasberg, then began a stage career before landing a contract v MGM Studios. She then appeared in a pair that 1965 Elvis films, and also that very same year was called one the the three brand-new Stars the the Year at the golden Globes. A year later, she met she husband, actor and TV host Gary Collins on the collection of the 1966 Jerry Lewis movie "Three top top a Couch." The two would occupational together professionally (Miss America pageants, game shows) and also on reasons near and also dear to your hearts (charities, and also making documentaries roughly the world).

In Season 3, we were introduced to Philip"s sisters Sophia Drummond, played by Dody Goodman. She was a bit an ext down come earth, the the earth, and nuttier 보다 her brother. 

Sophia"s very first job as a caring aunt had actually her trying come rid Arnold"s institution of junk food, and also later she tried to sound the alarm of pollution to deaf ears, yet she caught everyone"s attention as soon as Kimberly"s hair turned environment-friendly after washing that in dirty water. She also tried to assist her brother discover love, however her matchmaking skills backfired when it ended up being a fight of the haves and also have-nots.

Dolores (nicknamed Dody by she brother) dreamy of do a career as a dancer, but Imogene Coca imagined she as more of a comedienne, and so she went under that course successfully. She first made waves on the "Tonight Show" forerunner "Tonight starring Jack Parr," but soon overshadowed the host, who said he feel "like the announcer the "The Dody Goodman Show."

Her funny voice, face and also humor (which she said she inherited from her mother) splashed around on "The Ed Sullivan Show" (explaining the differences between men and also women), as mary Hartman"s mother on that 70s show, together the chime chiming assistant to the principal in "Grease" and also its sequel, together Mrs. Stimler in "Splash" and also its sequel, and also as miss out on Miller ~ above the "Alvin & The Chipmunks" cartoon native the so late "80s.

Dody was additionally happy to be just her usual sunny self, dropping in on various talk shows, favor Dinah Shore"s, where she discussed old TV taboos, and also danced the Charleston v Carol Channing. In the star-studded CHiPs illustration "The an excellent 5K Star Race and Boulder plunder Party," she shared a call sheet through future "Strokes" loved ones Todd Bridges and Conrad Bain. She even appeared as a panelist alongside Bain in the game present "All-Star Secrets", which predated both collaborations.

Goodman passed away in 2008, at period 93, "older 보다 she often said."

Arnold"s ideal friend Dudley had actually a lot in typical with him, including being embraced by a an extremely loving father, Ted Ramsey, play by Le Tari. And yet Dudley"s dad retained being supplied as one excuse because that Arnold to hide the truth, very first claiming the Mr. Ramsey abused Dudley, and also because that that, Mr. Drummond should embrace him too (in actuality, the just hand Mr. R increased was come hug him). Two seasons later, in the unique episode about child predators and also abuse, a bicycle shop owner (the late Gordon Jump), plied Arnold and also Dudley with wine, however when the odor of the is sniffed ~ above Arnold"s breath, that fingered Mr. Ramsey together the providers (don"t worry, he to be cleared and also the real poor guy was stopped). 

In another serious episode, Arnold and also Dudley got captured smoking cigarettes, yet Mr. Ramsay shocked lock all with the horror that it may lead to having their lung removed, i m sorry is a surgical procedure he was around to undergo.

Tari had a an extremely short career, however packed in over 20 display screen roles in simply a dozen years. His first was as one of three Vietnam Vets going to war ago home against the Klu Klux Klan in 1976"s "Brotherhood of Death." he popped up in many one shot appearances ~ above shows prefer "The Jeffersons," "Starsky and also Hutch," "Happy Days," "The A-Team," "Small Wonder," and also as a reformed corridor member scaring others directly on "What"s continue Now!" His last 2 credits were in the 1987 satires "Hollywood Shuffle" and also "Amazon ladies on the Moon."

Every successful business man requirements a top lawyer, specifically when they likewise have many an individual affairs to resolve as well. Get in Tom Bishop, played by Robert Rockwell, that was constantly there because that Philip Drummond for everything thing writ large in his and also his family"s lives. 

One that his most important roles because that Tom to be shoring increase the adoption procedure of Willis and Arnold. Other occasions he showed up on the scene for were once Mr. Drummond got into a serious vehicle accident, or when Arnold stole a comic publication as an initiation routine to gain into one "elite" school club. He in ~ least acquired the night off and was simply a guest in ~ Phillip"s second wedding — i m sorry would additionally mark his final appearance on the show, as well as those that Charlotte Rae, Nedra Volz, Dody Goodman and also Le Tari.

Rockwell is perhaps finest known for playing a various Philip, Mr. Boynton, a shy biologic teacher in the 1950s radio, TV and also movie versions of "Our miss Brooks." around that time he also played George Reeves" father Jor-El in "Adventures that Superman," and a forest ranger in "War the the Worlds." later on he play the lead guy in the west "The male from Blackhawk," and also various functions on "Perry Mason" and also "Lassie." In 1983, he showed up in the Gary Coleman film "The son with the 200 I.Q.," and also became step-father come "Diff"rent Strokes" theme tune co-writer Alan Thicke top top "Growing Pains." come more modern-day audiences, he will certainly be soon recognizable as the loving grandfather always happy to hand out Werther"s original candy to the next generation on countless TV ads.

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Rockwell died of cancer in 2003 at age 82. His "Miss Brooks" co-star Richard Crenna had died the exact same month, and their memorial services were hosted on the exact same day.