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Diff'rent Strokes

Diff'rent Strokes

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Diff'rent Strokes is an American television sitcom that aired on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 from November 3, 1978
1978 in television
The year 1978 in television involved some significant events.Below is a list of television-related events in 1978.For the American TV schedule, see: 1978-79 American network television schedule.-Events:...

 to May 4, 1985
1985 in television
The year 1985 involved some significant events.Below is a list of television-related events in 1985.For the American TV schedule, see: 1985-86 United States network television schedule.-Events:*January 1 – VH1 launches in the United States....

, and on ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 from September 27, 1985 to March 7, 1986
1986 in television
The year 1986 in television involved some significant events.Below is a list of television-related events in 1986.For the American network television schedule, please see 1986-87 American network television schedule.-Events:-Debuts:*September 6 –...

. The series stars Gary Coleman
Gary Coleman
Gary Wayne Coleman was an American actor, known for his childhood role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and for his small stature as an adult. He was described in the 1980s as "one of television's most promising stars". After a successful childhood acting career, Coleman...

 and Todd Bridges
Todd Bridges
Todd Anthony Bridges is an American actor. He is best known for his childhood role as Willis Jackson on the NBC/ABC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, and for his recurring role as Monk on the UPN/CW sitcom Everybody Hates Chris...

 as Arnold and Willis Jackson, two African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 boys from Harlem
Harlem
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands...

 who are taken in by a rich white Park Avenue businessman named Phillip Drummond
Phillip Drummond (character)
Phillip Drummond is a fictional character on the hit television series, Diff'rent Strokes, he was portrayed by Emmy Award nominee and Golden Globe winning television actor, Conrad Bain, who previously worked on Maude.-Fictional character biography:...

 (Conrad Bain
Conrad Bain
Conrad Stafford Bain is a Canadian-American actor. His television credits include a leading role as Phillip Drummond in the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and as Dr. Arthur Harmon on Maude.-Personal life:...

) and his daughter Kimberly
Kimberly Drummond (character)
Kimberly Drummond is a fictional character on the popular television series, Diff'rent Strokes, and was portrayed by child actress Dana Plato from 1978 until 1984, at the end of the show's sixth season....

 (Dana Plato
Dana Plato
Dana Michelle Plato was an American actress notable for playing the role of Kimberly Drummond in the U.S. television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.Plato appeared in over 100 television commercials as a young girl...

), for whom their deceased mother previously worked. During the first season and first half of the second season, Charlotte Rae
Charlotte Rae
Charlotte Rae is a prolific American character actress of stage, comedienne, singer and dancer, who in her six decades of television is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Edna Garrett in the sitcoms Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life...

 also starred as the Drummonds' housekeeper, Mrs. Garrett (who ultimately spun-off into her own successful show, The Facts of Life
The Facts of Life (TV series)
The Facts of Life is an American sitcom that originally ran on the NBC television network from August 24, 1979 to May 7, 1988. A spin-off of the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, the series' premise focused on Edna Garrett as she becomes a housemother at the fictional Eastland School, a prestigious...

).

The series made stars out of child actors Coleman, Bridges, and Plato, and became known for the "very special episode
Very special episode
"Very special episode" is an advertising term originally used in American television commercials to refer to an episode of a sitcom or television drama that deals with a serious or controversial social issue...

s" in which serious issues such as racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

, drug use and child molestation
Child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities , indecent exposure with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to...

 were dramatically explored. The lives of stars Coleman, Bridges and Plato, however, were later plagued by legal troubles and drug addiction
Substance dependence
The section about substance dependence in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not use the word addiction at all. It explains:...

, as the stardom and success they achieved while on the show eluded them after the series was cancelled.

History


In pre-production, the original proposed title was 45 Minutes From Harlem. The series was originally devised as a joint vehicle for Maude
Maude (TV series)
Maude was an American television sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS network from September 12, 1972 until April 22, 1978.Maude starred Beatrice Arthur as Maude Findlay, an outspoken, middle-aged, politically liberal woman living in suburban Tuckahoe, Westchester County, New York with...

co-star Conrad Bain (after Maude had abruptly finished production following an unsuccessful revamp earlier in 1978), and pint-sized child actor Gary Coleman, who had caught producers' attentions after appearing in a number of commercials.

The sitcom starred Gary Coleman
Gary Coleman
Gary Wayne Coleman was an American actor, known for his childhood role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and for his small stature as an adult. He was described in the 1980s as "one of television's most promising stars". After a successful childhood acting career, Coleman...

 as Arnold Jackson
Arnold Jackson (character)
Arnold Jackson is a breakout character on the television series Diff'rent Strokes. He was portrayed by Gary Coleman.-Character Theme:Arnold John Jackson is the younger brother of Willis Jackson , and was born in Harlem, New York City on October 19, 1971...

 and Todd Bridges
Todd Bridges
Todd Anthony Bridges is an American actor. He is best known for his childhood role as Willis Jackson on the NBC/ABC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, and for his recurring role as Monk on the UPN/CW sitcom Everybody Hates Chris...

 as his older brother, Willis
Willis Jackson (character)
Willis Jackson is a fictional character on the popular late 1970s-early 1980s television series, Diff'rent Strokes, and he was portrayed by child actor Todd Bridges.-Character background:...

. They played two children from a poor section of Harlem
Harlem
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands...

 whose deceased mother previously worked for rich widower Philip Drummond
Phillip Drummond (character)
Phillip Drummond is a fictional character on the hit television series, Diff'rent Strokes, he was portrayed by Emmy Award nominee and Golden Globe winning television actor, Conrad Bain, who previously worked on Maude.-Fictional character biography:...

 (Conrad Bain
Conrad Bain
Conrad Stafford Bain is a Canadian-American actor. His television credits include a leading role as Phillip Drummond in the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and as Dr. Arthur Harmon on Maude.-Personal life:...

), who eventually adopted them. They lived in a penthouse with Mr. Drummond, his daughter Kimberly
Kimberly Drummond (character)
Kimberly Drummond is a fictional character on the popular television series, Diff'rent Strokes, and was portrayed by child actress Dana Plato from 1978 until 1984, at the end of the show's sixth season....

 (Dana Plato
Dana Plato
Dana Michelle Plato was an American actress notable for playing the role of Kimberly Drummond in the U.S. television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.Plato appeared in over 100 television commercials as a young girl...

), and their maid.

There were three maids during the show's run: Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae
Charlotte Rae
Charlotte Rae is a prolific American character actress of stage, comedienne, singer and dancer, who in her six decades of television is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Edna Garrett in the sitcoms Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life...

), Adelaide Brubaker (Nedra Volz
Nedra Volz
Nedra Volz was an American film and television actress.-Early life and career:Born Nedra Gordonier in Montrose, Iowa, she began her career in the family tent show, and appeared in vaudeville as a toddler...

), and Pearl Gallagher (Mary Jo Catlett
Mary Jo Catlett
-Life & career:Catlett was born in Denver, Colorado, the daughter of Cornelia M. and Robert J. Catlett. She is best-known for her role as housekeeper Pearl Gallagher on Diff'rent Strokes....

). They lived in the Penthouse Suite at 297 Park Avenue
Park Avenue (Manhattan)
Park Avenue is a wide boulevard that carries north and southbound traffic in New York City borough of Manhattan. Through most of its length, it runs parallel to Madison Avenue to the west and Lexington Avenue to the east....

 in New York City. As Arnold, Coleman popularized the catchphrase "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" The ending often varied, depending on whom he was addressing.

Seasons 1-4


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 spin-off, The Facts of Life
The Facts of Life (TV series)
The Facts of Life is an American sitcom that originally ran on the NBC television network from August 24, 1979 to May 7, 1988. A spin-off of the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, the series' premise focused on Edna Garrett as she becomes a housemother at the fictional Eastland School, a prestigious...

. Following Rae's departure, Nedra Volz took over as the housekeeper, Adelaide Brubaker. Although she was not part of the official main cast and not added to the opening credits, Volz appeared as a frequent semi-regular character.

Seasons 5-6


In Season 5, Mary Jo Catlett
Mary Jo Catlett
-Life & career:Catlett was born in Denver, Colorado, the daughter of Cornelia M. and Robert J. Catlett. She is best-known for her role as housekeeper Pearl Gallagher on Diff'rent Strokes....

 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 they later recanted, with Plato's publicised brushes with substance abuse contributing to this decision, resulting in her dismissal from the series.

Plato's character, Kimberly, was written out of the storylines with the explanation that she moved to Paris to study abroad for a couple of years. Plato did not appear as a series regular in the final two seasons of the series, but she later made several guest appearances.

At the same time, ratings were beginning to sag, so new characters were added to open up future storylines. Dixie Carter
Dixie Carter
Dixie Virginia Carter was an American film, television and stage actress, best known for her role as Julia Sugarbaker in the CBS sitcom Designing Women...

 and Danny Cooksey
Danny Cooksey
Danny Cooksey is an American singer, actor and voice actor. He has been in show business since he was very young and is best remembered for playing the roles of Sam McKinney on the last years of the TV show Diff'rent Strokes and Robert "Bobby" Budnick on the Nickelodeon program, Salute Your...

 portrayed recently divorced television aerobics
Aerobics
Aerobics is a form of physical exercise that combines rhythmic aerobic exercise with stretching and strength training routines with the goal of improving all elements of fitness...

 instructor Margaret "Maggie" McKinney, and her son, Sam McKinney. Carter was introduced a way into the sixth season; after she left for California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Drummond (with family in tow) took off after her, during a two-part trip in February 1984, a storyline which also introduced Sam.

Phillip proposed to Maggie, and they married. Several past characters attended the wedding ceremony including Dudley, Aunt Sophia, Adelaide, and Mrs. Garret.

Season 7


In the seventh season, Carter and Cooksey were added to the opening credits (with Carter getting special "and" billing, last in the order), and many new areas and ideas were explored in the storylines, as viewers now got to see Philip as a happily married husband. Also, since there was a new fresh-faced kid in the house with Sam, Arnold now had his own little sidekick and was happy to be a "big brother" for a change, and with Willis being dropped into the background slightly, this new brotherly duo took centre stage for many storylines. Additionally, stories focusing on Arnold's school life (featured to an extent occasionally in many previous seasons) were delved into much more. The ratings, however, did not improve to NBC's hopes. Carter departed at the end of the seventh season.

Season 8


In the spring of 1985 NBC canceled the series because of poor ratings. ABC picked up the series for an eighth season, and aired it Friday nights. In this season, which turned out to be the last, Mary Ann Mobley
Mary Ann Mobley
Mary Ann Mobley is a former Miss America, actress, and television personality.-Career:After serving her reign as Miss America 1959, Mobley embarked on a career in both film and television...

 replaced Dixie Carter as Maggie McKinney Drummond. (Carter had left and started work on Designing Women
Designing Women
Designing Women is an American television sitcom that centered on the working and personal lives of four Southern women and one man in an interior design firm in Atlanta, Georgia. It aired on the CBS television network from September 29, 1986 until May 24, 1993. The show was created by head writer...

after NBC cancelled Diff'rent Strokes; Mobley had previously played an unrelated, one-off love interest of Drummond's during the first season.)

ABC canceled the series after 19 episodes, and aired its final episode on March 7, 1986. The show returned to ABC's schedule in June for two months of summer reruns, which ended on August 30, 1986. The final season ranked 76th out of 106 shows, and averaged an 11.5 household rating.

Cast

  • Conrad Bain
    Conrad Bain
    Conrad Stafford Bain is a Canadian-American actor. His television credits include a leading role as Phillip Drummond in the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and as Dr. Arthur Harmon on Maude.-Personal life:...

     - Phillip Drummond
  • Gary Coleman
    Gary Coleman
    Gary Wayne Coleman was an American actor, known for his childhood role as Arnold Jackson in the American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and for his small stature as an adult. He was described in the 1980s as "one of television's most promising stars". After a successful childhood acting career, Coleman...

     - Arnold Jackson
  • Todd Bridges
    Todd Bridges
    Todd Anthony Bridges is an American actor. He is best known for his childhood role as Willis Jackson on the NBC/ABC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, and for his recurring role as Monk on the UPN/CW sitcom Everybody Hates Chris...

     - Willis Jackson
  • Dana Plato
    Dana Plato
    Dana Michelle Plato was an American actress notable for playing the role of Kimberly Drummond in the U.S. television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.Plato appeared in over 100 television commercials as a young girl...

     - Kimberly Drummond (1978–1984)
  • Charlotte Rae
    Charlotte Rae
    Charlotte Rae is a prolific American character actress of stage, comedienne, singer and dancer, who in her six decades of television is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Edna Garrett in the sitcoms Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life...

     - Edna Garrett (1978–1979)
  • Nedra Volz
    Nedra Volz
    Nedra Volz was an American film and television actress.-Early life and career:Born Nedra Gordonier in Montrose, Iowa, she began her career in the family tent show, and appeared in vaudeville as a toddler...

     - Adelaide Brubaker (1980–1982)
  • Janet Jackson
    Janet Jackson
    Janet Damita Jo Jackson is an American recording artist and actress. Known for a series of sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows, television and film roles, she has been a prominent figure in popular culture for over 25 years...

     - Charlene DuPrey (1980–1984)
  • Dody Goodman
    Dody Goodman
    Dolores "Dody" Goodman was an American character actress known for her playing the mother of the title character Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman...

     - Aunt Sophia (1981–1982)
  • Shavar Ross
    Shavar Ross
    Shavar Malik Ross is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, editor, photographer, author, and entrepreneur. He is known for his recurring television roles as Dudley Ramsey on the NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, and as Weasel on the ABC sitcom Family Matters.-Biography:Ross...

     - Dudley Ramsey (1981-1986)
  • Le Tari
    Le Tari
    Le Tari was an American actor who appeared in movies and on television.Distinctive for his imposing physical stature, broad mustache and lantern jaw, Tari landed a starring role in the 1976 blaxploitation film Brotherhood of Death...

     - Mr. Ted Ramsey (1981–1985)
  • Mary Jo Catlett
    Mary Jo Catlett
    -Life & career:Catlett was born in Denver, Colorado, the daughter of Cornelia M. and Robert J. Catlett. She is best-known for her role as housekeeper Pearl Gallagher on Diff'rent Strokes....

     - Pearl Gallagher (1982–1986)
  • Rosalind Chao
    Rosalind Chao
    Rosalind Chao is a Chinese American actress. Chao's most prolific roles have been as a star of CBS' AfterMASH portraying South Korean refugee Soon-Lee Klinger for both seasons, and the recurring character Keiko O'Brien with 27 appearances on the syndicated science fiction series Star Trek: The...

     - Miss Chung (1982–1983)
  • Steven Mond
    Steven Mond
    Steven Mond is an American former child actor best known for playing Robbie Jason on the 1980s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.He also guest starred on the TV series CHiPs and Quincy M.E. and had a role in the 1979 movie 1941....

     - Robbie Jason (1982–1983)
  • Nikki Swasey - Lisa Hayes (1982–1986)
  • Dixie Carter
    Dixie Carter
    Dixie Virginia Carter was an American film, television and stage actress, best known for her role as Julia Sugarbaker in the CBS sitcom Designing Women...

     - Maggie McKinney Drummond #1 (1984–1985)
  • Mary Ann Mobley
    Mary Ann Mobley
    Mary Ann Mobley is a former Miss America, actress, and television personality.-Career:After serving her reign as Miss America 1959, Mobley embarked on a career in both film and television...

     - Maggie McKinney Drummond #2 (1985–1986)
  • Danny Cooksey
    Danny Cooksey
    Danny Cooksey is an American singer, actor and voice actor. He has been in show business since he was very young and is best remembered for playing the roles of Sam McKinney on the last years of the TV show Diff'rent Strokes and Robert "Bobby" Budnick on the Nickelodeon program, Salute Your...

     - Sam McKinney (1984–1986)
  • Jason Hervey
    Jason Hervey
    Jason Robert Hervey is an American actor, television producer and former public relations agent. He is best known for his role as "Wayne Arnold" on The Wonder Years.-Early life and acting:...

     - Charlie (1985–1986)


Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain) is the only character to appear in every episode of the series.

Supporting characters


Outside of the Drummond household, there were a large number of supporting characters seen over the years. Phillip's slightly dotty sister Sophia (Dody Goodman
Dody Goodman
Dolores "Dody" Goodman was an American character actress known for her playing the mother of the title character Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman...

) was regularly seen in the fourth season, playing matchmaker for her brother in hopes of getting Philip to marry again. None of the women she set him up with lasted. Dudley Ramsey (Shavar Ross
Shavar Ross
Shavar Malik Ross is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, editor, photographer, author, and entrepreneur. He is known for his recurring television roles as Dudley Ramsey on the NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, and as Weasel on the ABC sitcom Family Matters.-Biography:Ross...

) showed up as Arnold's new best friend that year (though Dudley's first appearance was in the episode "Teacher's Pet" in Season 2, where he was named Dudley Johnson, before being adopted), with whom he shared many memorable childhood scrapes. Some of these were important or serious storylines under the "very special episode
Very special episode
"Very special episode" is an advertising term originally used in American television commercials to refer to an episode of a sitcom or television drama that deals with a serious or controversial social issue...

" heading, which Diff'rent Strokes popularized (see below). Ted Ramsey (Le Tari
Le Tari
Le Tari was an American actor who appeared in movies and on television.Distinctive for his imposing physical stature, broad mustache and lantern jaw, Tari landed a starring role in the 1976 blaxploitation film Brotherhood of Death...

) was Dudley's adoptive father, who turned up occasionally.

In the third season, Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson
Janet Damita Jo Jackson is an American recording artist and actress. Known for a series of sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows, television and film roles, she has been a prominent figure in popular culture for over 25 years...

 played Willis's steady girlfriend Charlene DuPrey. While she was only a (semi) regular cast member in the fourth season, Jackson continued doing odd guest appearances until the end of Season 6, when Charlene and Willis decided to break up
Break Up
Break Up may refer to:* relationship breakup* Break Up , also known as The Man with the Balloons, an Italian film directed by Marco Ferreri* Break Up , starring Bridget Fonda, Kiefer Sutherland, and Steven Weber...

, but remain friends.

Other classmates and friends of Arnold's seen over time included Robbie Jason (Steven Mond) and Lisa Hayes (Nikki Swasey), who initially was sweet on Arnold, but soon suffered a character change and came to despise him, leading to neutral hatred between the pair and many squabbles. Miss Chung (Rosalind Chao
Rosalind Chao
Rosalind Chao is a Chinese American actress. Chao's most prolific roles have been as a star of CBS' AfterMASH portraying South Korean refugee Soon-Lee Klinger for both seasons, and the recurring character Keiko O'Brien with 27 appearances on the syndicated science fiction series Star Trek: The...

) was Arnold's homeroom teacher for a year. In the fall of 1985, when the series moved to ABC, Arnold, Dudley and Lisa entered high school, where they gained a new friend in Charlie (Jason Hervey
Jason Hervey
Jason Robert Hervey is an American actor, television producer and former public relations agent. He is best known for his role as "Wayne Arnold" on The Wonder Years.-Early life and acting:...

).

An oft-mentioned character was The Gooch, a bullying classmate of Arnold's. While his name is mentioned in multiple episodes (and his bullying of Arnold the center of several plots), the character actually never appeared on screen.

Very special episodes


Diff'rent Strokes was also known for its many "very special episode
Very special episode
"Very special episode" is an advertising term originally used in American television commercials to refer to an episode of a sitcom or television drama that deals with a serious or controversial social issue...

s", most notably an anti-drug episode ("The Reporter", in Season 5) that featured then-First Lady
First Lady of the United States
First Lady of the United States is the title of the hostess of the White House. Because this position is traditionally filled by the wife of the president of the United States, the title is most often applied to the wife of a sitting president. The current first lady is Michelle Obama.-Current:The...

 Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan
Nancy Davis Reagan is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989....

, who promoted her "Just Say No
Just Say No
"Just Say No" was an advertising campaign, part of the U.S. "War on Drugs", prevalent during the 1980s and early 1990s, to discourage children from engaging in recreational drug use by offering various ways of saying no. Eventually, this also expanded the realm of "Just Say No" to violence and...

" campaign, and a two-part episode that guest starred Gordon Jump
Gordon Jump
Alexander Gordon Jump was an American actor best known as the clueless radio station manager Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson in the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati and the incompetent "Chief of Police Tinkler" in the sitcom Soap...

 as a pedophile bicycle-shop owner, who attempted to sexually molest
Child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities , indecent exposure with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to...

 Arnold and Dudley.

Another episode involved a con artist (played by Whitman Mayo
Whitman Mayo
Whitman B. Mayo was an American actor best known for his character Grady Wilson on the 1970s television sitcom Sanford and Son....

) 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
Hitchhiking
Hitchhiking is a means of transportation that is gained by asking people, usually strangers, for a ride in their automobile or other road vehicle to travel a distance that may either be short or long...

, 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. At the end of that episode, Conrad Bain spoke these words as a Public Service Announcement
Public service announcement
A public service announcement or public service ad is a type of advertisement featured on television, radio, print or other media...

, "If you know of a case of sexual assault
Sexual assault
Sexual assault is an assault of a sexual nature on another person, or any sexual act committed without consent. Although sexual assaults most frequently are by a man on a woman, it may involve any combination of two or more men, women and children....

 or an attempted sexual assault, please contact your local law enforcement agency or emergency medical facility."

In the final season (when the show moved from NBC to ABC), the one-hour season opener revolved around Sam being kidnapped
Kidnapping
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

 by a bereaved father (played by Royce D. Applegate
Royce D. Applegate
Royce D. Applegate was an American actor and screenwriter. Born in Oklahoma, his most visible role was that of Chief Petty Officer Manilow Crocker on the first season of the Steven Spielberg-produced television series seaQuest DSV.In 1985, Applegate played tragic family man-turned-kidnapper Donald...

) 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 housekeeper Pearl herself has epilepsy, but, unlike Karen, has control of her seizures by taking medications.

Spin-off and crossovers


As a result of the overnight success of Diff'rent Strokes, an impoverished NBC commissioned another new Tandem Productions
Tandem Productions
Tandem Productions, Inc. was a film and television production company that was founded in 1958 by Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear.-Tandem Productions:...

 series on their schedule, Hello, Larry
Hello, Larry
Hello, Larry is an American sitcom which aired on NBC from January 26, 1979, to April 30, 1980.-First season:Larry Alder is a radio talk show host who left Los Angeles after being divorced and moved to Portland, Oregon, with his two teenage daughters, Diane and...

, to establish a connection with Strokes via an hour-long crossover episode. In this telecast ("The Trip", aired March 30, 1979), it was explained that Phillip Drummond had a friend in former Army mate Larry Alder (McLean Stevenson
McLean Stevenson
Edgar McLean Stevenson, Jr. , better known as McLean Stevenson, was an American actor most recognized for his role as Lt. Colonel Henry Blake on the TV series M*A*S*H...

), the Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

 radio show host who was the title character in Hello, Larry. The episode centered around Phillip and his family flying out to Portland to visit Larry and his kids, especially so the two men could catch up and reminisce. Ultimately, Phillip ends up buying the radio station Larry works at, in order to prevent troubled management from cutting Larry's gig. All principal characters on Hello, Larry appeared in this episode, and some of its writers and producers contributed to the crossover storyline. The Alders and Larry's radio colleagues appeared in two more crossover episodes with Diff'rent Strokes, in the hour-long installments "Feudin' and Fussin'" (aired October 26, 1979) and in "Thanksgiving Crossover" (January 9, 1980). Done as what seemed a surefire way to generate big ratings for Hello, Larry, the crossovers between the two series did little to guarantee it long-term success; after two seasons, Hello, Larry folded.

The television sitcom The Facts of Life
The Facts of Life (TV series)
The Facts of Life is an American sitcom that originally ran on the NBC television network from August 24, 1979 to May 7, 1988. A spin-off of the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, the series' premise focused on Edna Garrett as she becomes a housemother at the fictional Eastland School, a prestigious...

(1979 – 1988) was a spin-off
Spin-off (media)
In media, a spin-off is a radio program, television program, video game, or any narrative work, derived from one or more already existing works, that focuses, in particular, in more detail on one aspect of that original work...

 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, East Lake Academy, where Kimberly attended. 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, including the name of the school, which became Eastland Academy; and Kimberly (featured in "The Girls School" as a student) 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.

Later appearances of the characters


In 1996, Gary Coleman and Conrad Bain reprised their roles for the series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990 to May 20, 1996. The show stars Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his aunt and uncle in their...

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, Willis?". Also, in 1994, Coleman appeared in an episode of Married... with Children
Married... with Children
Married... with Children is an American surrealistic sitcom that aired for 11 seasons that featured a dysfunctional family living in Chicago, Illinois. The show, notable for being the first prime time television series to air on Fox, ran from April 5, 1987, to June 9, 1997. The series was created...

, playing a building code inspector whom Al Bundy
Al Bundy
Al Bundy is a fictional character from the U.S. television series Married... with Children. He was played by Ed O'Neill.-Character history:...

 called to report an illegal driveway. When Kelly recognizes him, he denies any connection to Arnold Jackson, but utters his catchphrase to Al, "What'chu talkin' about, Bundy?".

Ratings


Diff'rent Strokes was in the top 30 of the TV ratings for its first three seasons. This is a list of the ratings:
  • 1978–1979: #27
  • 1979–1980: #26
  • 1980–1981: #19
  • 1981–1982: #N/A
  • 1982–1983: #N/A
  • 1983–1984: #50
  • 1984–1985: #33
  • 1985–1986: #69

Diff'rent Strokes curse


Following the cancellation of Diff'rent Strokes, the three child stars brought to fame by the show suffered from legal troubles and drug addictions, and were unable to retain the stardom they achieved on the show. Two of them (Plato and Coleman) are deceased. This went on to become known as the "Diff'rent Strokes curse." Dana Plato
Dana Plato
Dana Michelle Plato was an American actress notable for playing the role of Kimberly Drummond in the U.S. television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.Plato appeared in over 100 television commercials as a young girl...

 went on to pose for Playboy
Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...

, and also appeared in softcore
Softcore
Softcore pornography is a form of filmic or photographic pornography or erotica that is less sexually explicit than hardcore pornography. It is intended to tickle and arouse men and women. Softcore pornography depicts nude and semi-nude performers engaging in casual social nudity or non-graphic...

 films. She was later arrested twice (once for armed robbery, again for forging a prescription for Valium). She died of a drug overdose
Drug overdose
The term drug overdose describes the ingestion or application of a drug or other substance in quantities greater than are recommended or generally practiced...

 in 1999 at the age of 34.

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
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

 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 Postal 2
Postal 2
Postal 2 is a first-person shooter video game by Running with Scissors, and it is the sequel to the 1997 game Postal. Both are intentionally highly controversial due to high levels of violence and stereotyping. Unlike its predecessor, Postal 2 is played completely in first-person based on the...

. In 2007, Coleman was cited for disorderly conduct in Provo, Utah
Provo, Utah
Provo is the third largest city in the U.S. state of Utah, located about south of Salt Lake City along the Wasatch Front. Provo is the county seat of Utah County and lies between the cities of Orem to the north and Springville to the south...

 for having a "heated discussion" with a woman. On May 26, 2010, Coleman was admitted to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah, after falling and hitting his head, and was announced to be in critical condition with a minimal chance of survival. Coleman was then placed on life support after suffering an intracranial hemorrhage
Intracranial hemorrhage
An intracranial hemorrhage is a hemorrhage, or bleeding, within the skull.-Causes:Intracranial bleeding occurs when a blood vessel within the skull is ruptured or leaks. It can result from physical trauma or nontraumatic causes such as a ruptured aneurysm...

, though he died the next day from complications of his injury at the age of 42.

Todd Bridges
Todd Bridges
Todd Anthony Bridges is an American actor. He is best known for his childhood role as Willis Jackson on the NBC/ABC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, and for his recurring role as Monk on the UPN/CW sitcom Everybody Hates Chris...

 was arrested in 1994 after allegedly ramming someone's car after an argument. He also had issues with illegal drugs for several years, but has given up the habit. He has since traveled across the U.S.A., touring schools and discussing the dangers of drug use. He also enjoyed semi-regular guest spots on Everybody Hates Chris
Everybody Hates Chris
Everybody Hates Chris is an African American television period sitcom inspired by the teenage experiences of comedian Chris Rock , while growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York . The show is set from 1982 to 1987; however, Rock himself was a teenager during years...

as Monk, a shell-shocked Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 veteran, conspiracy theorist, and nephew
Nephew
Nephew is a son of one's sibling or sibling-in-law, and niece is a daughter of one's sibling or a sibling-in-law. Sons and daughters of siblings-in-law are also informally referred to as nephews and nieces respectively, even though there is no blood relation...

 of Chris' boss Doc.

Bridges stated in an interview with Meredith Viera that while he was questioning
Questioning (sexuality and gender)
The questioning of one's gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, or all three is a process of exploration by people who may be unsure, still exploring, and concerned about applying a social label to themselves for various reasons...

, he and Plato had sexual relations during the production of the show, which he says Plato did to help him identify his sexuality
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

. He also stated that Plato started him out with drugs, giving him marijuana at age 14. Plato denied both of these statements.

Music connection


The name of the show was derived from a popular catchphrase, "diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks", popularized by rock band
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

 Sly and the Family Stone with their 1968 hit "Everyday People". The show's theme song was written and sung by Al Burton, Alan Thicke
Alan Thicke
Alan Thicke is a Canadian actor, songwriter, and game and talk show host. He is best known for his role as Jason Seaver, the patriarch on the ABC television series Growing Pains.- Early life :...

, and Gloria Loring
Gloria Loring
Gloria Loring is an American singer and actress.- Career :Loring began her music career at age 14, singing with a folk group known as "Those Four". Gloria Loring released her first album in 1968. It was titled "Gloria Loring, Today" on MGM Records...

.

Docudramas


Two unofficial docu-dramas were produced about the show:
  • In 2000, Fox
    Fox Broadcasting Company
    Fox Broadcasting Company, commonly referred to as Fox Network or simply Fox , is an American commercial broadcasting television network owned by Fox Entertainment Group, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Launched on October 9, 1986, Fox was the highest-rated broadcast network in the...

     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 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
    Dana Plato
    Dana Michelle Plato was an American actress notable for playing the role of Kimberly Drummond in the U.S. television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.Plato appeared in over 100 television commercials as a young girl...

    's grave.

International show titles


Overseas Titles for Diff'rent Strokes

Country Show Title
 Spain Arnold
 Uruguay Arnold
 Belgium Arnold (70-80s on Flemish state television BRT)
Diff'rent Strokes (2009-2010 on Flemish commercial television vtm) (All seasons of Diff'rent Strokes 2011 vtm)
 Early Modern France Arnold et Willy (Arnold and Willy)
 Venezuela Arnold el travieso (Arnold the Mischievous One)
 Argentina Blanco y Negro (White and Black)
 Mexico Blanco y Negro (White and Black)
 Guatemala Blanco y Negro (White and Black)
 Costa Rica Blanco y Negro (White and Black)
 Italy Harlem contro Manhattan (Harlem v. Manhattan) (1980-81)
Il mio Amico Arnold (My Friend Arnold) (1981–1986)
Arnold (after 1988)
 Brazil Minha Família é uma Bagunça (My Family is a Mess) (2006–2007) - Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon (Latin America)
Nickelodeon Latin America is a cable and satellite television channel, counterpart of the American network Nickelodeon. It is oriented to Latin American region and the caribbean; mainly for children and teens. It is owned by MTV Networks Latin America. The channel was launched on December 20, 1996...


Arnold (2009-present) - SBT
 Japan アーノルド坊やは人気者 (Anorudo boya wa ninkimono, Little Boy Arnold is Popular)
 Republic of China 小淘氣 (Little Rascal)
 Israel על טעם ועל ריח (About Taste and Smell)
 Germany Noch Fragen Arnold? (Any More Questions Arnold?)
 Thailand ตลกคนแคระ (The Funny Midget)


DVD releases


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the home video distribution arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation. It was established in November 1979 as Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment, releasing 20 titles: The Anderson Tapes, Bell, Book and Candle, Born Free, Breakout,...

 has released Seasons 1 and 2 of Diff'rent Strokes on DVD in Region 1 & 4. Season 1 was also released in Region 2 on October 6, 2008. On September 29, 2009, a "Fan Favorites" DVD was released. This is a one disc compilation consisting of eight episodes from Season 2.http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Diffrent-Strokes-Fan-Favorite-DVDs/12581. At this point, it is unknown if the remaining six seasons will be released.
DVD Name Ep# Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 24 September 14, 2004 October 6, 2008 November 22, 2006
The Complete Second Season 26 January 31, 2006 TBA November 4, 2008
Fan Favorites 8 September 29, 2009 N/A N/A

Avenue Q


The Broadway musical Avenue Q
Avenue Q
Avenue Q is a musical in two acts, conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the music and lyrics. The book was written by Jeff Whitty and the show was directed by Jason Moore and produced by Kevin McCollum, Robyn Goodman, and Jeffrey Seller...

, which began its run in 2003, 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 "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" are also included in the musical. The character of Gary Coleman was originally portrayed by actress Natalie Venetia Belcon
Natalie Venetia Belcon
Natalie Venetia Belcon is a Trinidad-born American actress and singer. She is best known for originating the role of former child television star Gary Coleman in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Avenue Q...

. 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."

External links