Diff”rent Strokes was quite a unique television show when it debuted. Centered around a millionaire who adopted two orphaned boys from Harlem, the show often pulled at the heartstrings and covered serious subjects that had not been explored in a sitcom before. Diff’rent Strokes brought joy and laughter to a large number of people, but the personal lives of many of the cast members were often complicated and tragic for some. So read below to find out the answer to the question The Cast Of Diff’rent Strokes…Where Are They Now?
Conrad Bain as Phillip Drummond
Conrad Bain starred as Park Avenue millionaire Phillip Drummond, who had adopted two African-American orphaned boys from Harlem, named Willis and Arnold, to live with him and his daughter, Kimberly, and housekeeper, Mrs. Garrett. He also played the character of Phillip Drummond in one episode of the TV show The Facts of Life. Prior to his role on Different Strokes, he was a regular on the Maude tv show. After Different Strokes ended Bain mostly performed in guest appearances on various tv shows. Conrad Bain died from complications following a stroke on January 14, 2013, at the age of 89.
Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson
Before Diff’rent Strokes Coleman had appeared on the tv shows The Jeffersons and Good Times. After landing the role of Arnold Jackson, Coleman became an overnight sensation and was one of the highest-paid child actors in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At the height of his fame, he earned $100,000 per episode. He made the catchphrase “What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” famous. Coleman starred in the films On the Right Track (1981), Jimmy the Kid (1982), The Kid with the Broken Halo (1982), and a short-lived tv show The Gary Coleman Show (1982). Coleman would later sue his parents and former advisers for misappropriation of his finances and was awarded $1.3 million. However, his acting career would all but disappear. n 1998, Coleman was charged with assault while working as a security guard. Coleman’s final television role was a voice role in the animated series Robot Chicken. Coleman died in 2010 at the age of 42 after suffering from multiple health problems over the years including congenital kidney disease which contributed to his short stature and child-like appearance. He also suffered from heart problems and seizures.
Todd Bridges as Willis Jackson
Before Diff’rent Strokes, Todd Bridges appeared on The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Barney Miller, Fish, and the miniseries Roots. He became a household name after taking the role of Willis Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes. Bridges started smoking marijuana at 15 years old while acting on Diff’rent Strokes. During his 20’s he battled addictions to crack cocaine and meth. He became a drug dealer to support his own addictions and was arrested for cocaine possession and felony assault. Todd Bridges gave up drugs in 1993. He appeared in the 2002 television special Celebrity Boxing with his friend Vanilla Ice, who Bridges defeated. In 2006, Bridges appeared as a contestant on a celebrity episode of Fear Factor. Bridges had a recurring role as Monk on the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris and worked as a commentator on the television series TruTV Presents: World’s Dumbest… from 2008 to 2013. He is currently still acting in both tv and feature films. Todd Bridges is the last surviving original actor of Diff’rent Strokes.
Dana Plato as Kimberly Drummond (1978–84, 1985–86 recurring)
Actress Dana Plato made her debut in an episode of the tv show The Six Million Dollar Man in 1975. From there she went on to appear in the movies Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), Return to Boggy Creek (1977), and starring in the comedy California Suite (1978). She is most famous for her role as Kimberly Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes the sister of adopted brothers Arnold and Willis Drummond. Plato struggled with alcohol and drug abuse while on Diff’rent Strokes and overdosed on Valium when she was just 14. On February 28, 1991, she robbed a video store using a pellet gun and was arrested 15 minutes later because the clerk had recognized her as the actress who played Kimberly on Diff’rent Strokes. Plato would go on to struggle with unemployment and poverty. Dana Plato died on May 8, 1999, from a prescription drug overdose that was later ruled a suicide.
Charlotte Rae as Edna Garrett (1978–79)
Charlotte Rae played the role of Edna Garrett, the housekeeper for the Drummond household for the first season of the show. Rae proposed the idea for a spin-off show starring Mrs. Garrett as a housemother for girls at a private school which became known as “The Facts Of Life” and became her biggest role. She appeared on The Facts Of Life from 1979 through 1986. Charlotte Rae continued to make guest appearances on various tv shows through 2014. Charlotte Rae was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 91 and died on August 5, 2018. She was 92 years old.
Nedra Volz as Adelaide Brubaker (1980–84)
Nedra Volz played the housekeeper named Adelaide Brubaker on Different Strokes. She appeared almost weekly on the show for four years. She was a well known supporting actress and character actress who had also appeared on One Day At A Time, Good Times, The Dukes Of Hazard, Alice, All In The Family, Night Court, and The A-Team. On January 20, 2003, Volz died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
Janet Jackson as Charlene DuPrey (1980–84)
Janet Jackson portrayed Willis’ girlfriend Charlene DuPrey starting in season 3 and was a recurring character for four years on the show. While Janet Jackson is most famous for a pop singer, she has been acting since the 1970s including roles in Good Times, Fame, and of course Diff’rent Strokes. Janet Jackson has sold over 100 million records as considered one of the best-selling pop artists of all time. Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.
Danny Cooksey as Sam McKinney (1984-1986)
Danny Cooksey originally pursued a career in country music as a child. When an agent saw him, they offer him a role on the last 3 seasons of Diff’rent Strokes as the character Sam McKinney. He would later appear in the films Mac & Me and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. He would go on to do voice roles for The Tiny Toons, Hey Arnold! Kim Possible, Phineas & Ferb, and many more.