Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Greg Goodsell

1/17/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Distinguished actor presided over TV family - that didn't do too well off screen

Was ""Diff'rent Strokes" a warm, family TV situation comedy that cut across social and racial lines to impart a message of love and acceptance? Or was it a dastardly, implicitly racist program that fostered the notions of a "benevolent white patriarchy?" Conrad Bain, the distinguished actor who played dad Phillip Drummond on that show has died at the age of 89.

The 'Diff'rent Strokes' TV series would become notorious for the real-life problems the three child actors suffered once the series ended. Seeing the dashed fortunes of herself and her costars, Dana Plato, left is believed to have quipped at one time, 'That Mr. Drummond sure was a lousy father!'

The "Diff'rent Strokes" TV series would become notorious for the real-life problems the three child actors suffered once the series ended. Seeing the dashed fortunes of herself and her costars, Dana Plato, left is believed to have quipped at one time, "That Mr. Drummond sure was a lousy father!"

Article Highlights

By Greg Goodsell

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/17/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Celebrity

Keywords: Conrad Bain, Diff'rent Strokes, Dana Plato, Gary Coleman, TV series, actor


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Born in Alberta, Canada Bain attended the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta and served as a sergeant in the Canadian Army from 1943 to 1946. He then moved to New York, and spent the next 30 years in the theater, making his New York debut Off Broadway in 1956 in "The Iceman Cometh."

Bain scored his first real television success as Dr. Arthur Harmon, a neighbor of Bea Arthur's title character on "Maude."  He joined the cast of "Diff'rent Strokes" in 1978, the beginning of an eight-season run. Bain played a wealthy Manhattan widower Mr. Drummond who had promised his dying black housekeeper that he would rear her sons, Arnold (Gary Coleman) and Willis (Todd Bridges).

Drummond had a biological daughter, Kimberly, played by Dana Plato. The show's plotlines centered on the life of a racially mixed family. The show was criticized by some as simplistic and patronizing.

"Diff'rent Strokes" followed a tradition of "domestication" and "cultural dwarfism" of black men in mainstream entertainment, "in which small black 'boys' (arrested adolescents who were much older than the characters they played) were adopted by tall, successful white males," who "represented the myth of the benevolent paternalism of the white upper class," according to critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. in The New York Times in 1989.

Actor Gary Coleman, small due to treatments related to a congenital kidney disease said he had come to dislike the scenes in which, even when he had become a teenager in real life, his character continued to hop into Mr. Bain's lap for yet another lecture.

The "Diff'rent Strokes" TV series would become notorious for the real-life problems the three child actors suffered once the series ended. Coleman died in 2010 at 42 after a lengthy illness, broke and recently fired from his position as a security guard. Dana Plato led a rollercoaster ride of bad life and career decisions that ended when she died of a drug overdose in 1999 at 34. Todd Bridges, the only surviving child actor was acquitted of attempted murder in 1990.

Seeing the dashed fortunes of herself and her costars, Plato is believed to have quipped at one time, "That Mr. Drummond sure was a lousy father!"

Bain is survived by two sons, Mark and Kent, and a twin brother, Bonar. His wife of more than 60 years, Monica Bain died in 2009.

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Celebrity

Legendary actor Mickey Rooney dies at 93 Watch

Image of It's very hard to imagine American film without actor Mickey Rooney. Starting his career as a child actor in silent films, Rooney was frequently paired with fellow iconic movie star Judy Garland in the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's very hard to imagine American film without actor Mickey Rooney. Starting his career as a child actor in silent films, Rooney was frequently paired with fellow iconic movie star Judy Garland in the "Andy Hardy" series. Short, with an explosive temper, ... continue reading


Familiar face in TV and movies, James Rebhorn dies at 65 Watch

Image of Tall and lanky, James Rebhorn had a face that served him well as either a villain or corrupt politician. Other notable film roles were in

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

You recognized the face, if not the name. James Rebhorn was a nonpareil character actor who played a wide variety of roles who left a definite mark with TV and movie audiences. He was memorable as the arrogant headmaster in Al Pacino's "Scent of a Woman" or the ... continue reading


Original 'observational' comic David Brenner dies at 78 Watch

Image of Lanky, with an infectious grin and a memorably nasal delivery, David Brenner began working in New York comedy clubs in the late '60s.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

David Brenner's comedy routines were free of cuss words; the majority of his jokes didn't focus on sex, drugs or race, but on the mundane little details of everyday life - in his words, "the dumb things that we say and do." Brenner has lost his long battle with ... continue reading


Check out these amazing FUN FACTS about St. Patrick and Ireland! Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

continue reading


Vasculitis: The disease behind the slow, painful death of comedian Harold Ramis Watch

Image of The last four years of Harold Ramis' life were painful and difficult ones, as he was diagnosed with vasculitis, a misunderstood condition that attacks the body's arteries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Harold Ramis, a movie comic that filled many people's live with laughter and joy dies a slow, painful death from a disease that continues to battle the medical community. Vasculitis is described as a condition that turns on the body's network of veins and ... continue reading


Iconic Eighties comedian Harold Ramis dies at 69 Watch

Image of Knowing he could never compete with friend and fellow comedian John Belushi in terms of sheer zaniness, Harold Ramis usually played the subdued egghead in his classic comedies, such as

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

One of Hollywood's most successful comics, Harold Ramis' credits read like a list of the most significant comedies of the past few decades. Appearing in both "Ghostbusters" and "Stripes" as an actor and directing film favorites "Caddyshack" and "Groundhog Day," ... continue reading


Devo guitarist Bob Casale dies from heart failure at 61 Watch

Image of Known as

By Greg Goodsell

It's been a grim couple of months for the seminal New Wave rock band Devo. The band's original drummer, Alan Myers died last year - now, the band's guitarist, Bob Casale - known as "Bob 2" has passed away from heart failure. He was only 61. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'Father Walton' actor Ralph Waite dies at 85 Watch

Image of He was known to TV viewers as Papa Walton, the wise father to his farmhouse brood in the Depression-era series

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

He was known to TV viewers as Papa Walton, the wise father to his farmhouse brood in the Depression-era series "The Waltons," but actor Ralph Waite had countless other roles on the small and big screen. He had even served as an editor and a Presbyterian pastor. ... continue reading


Comedian and TV pioneer Sid Caesar dies at 91 Watch

Image of Comedian Sid Caesar as he attended a surprise 70th birthday party for television talk show host Larry King at the Museum of Television and Radio in 2003.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A familiar face in millions of American homes thanks to that new-fangled invention called television, comedian Sid Caesar, best known for "Your Show of Shows" and "Caesar's Hour" helped create the 1950s "Golden Age of Television," has died. He was 91. Caesar ... continue reading


Movie star Maximilian Schell dies at the age of 83 Watch

Image of Actor Maximilian Schell was probably best known to generations of kids of the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When casting directors wanted someone tall, dark and handsome - with more than just a little dash of the Nazi lurking behind him, actor Maximilian Schell was the actor of choice. Winning an Oscar for Judgment at Nuremberg in 1961, Schell has died at the age of ... continue reading


All Celebrity News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 1:1--2:2
1 In the beginning God created heaven and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11
5 My birthright, my cup is Yahweh; you, you alone, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 28:1-10
1 After the Sabbath, and towards dawn on the first ... Read More

Reading 2, Genesis 22:1-18
1 It happened some time later that God put Abraham to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 19th, 2014 Image

St. Alphege
April 19: Archbishop and "the First Martyr of Canterbury." He was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter