Different Strokes Cast Where Are They Now?

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Different Strokes was a beloved American sitcom that aired from 1978 to 1986. The show followed the lives of two African-American boys from Harlem, Arnold and Willis Jackson, who were adopted by a wealthy white businessman, Phillip Drummond, and his daughter, Kimberly. The series was known for its humor as well as its willingness to tackle serious issues. It became a staple of 1980s television and left a lasting impact on its audience. But what has become of the cast since the show ended? Let’s take a look at where the stars of Different Strokes are now.

Introduction to the Cast of Different Strokes

The main cast of Different Strokes included Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson, Todd Bridges as Willis Jackson, Conrad Bain as Phillip Drummond, and Dana Plato as Kimberly Drummond. Each of these actors became household names through their roles on the show. Over the years, fans have continued to show interest in their lives and careers post-Different Strokes.

Summary Table of Different Strokes Cast

Gary ColemanArnold JacksonDeceased (2010)
Todd BridgesWillis JacksonActor/Commentator
Conrad BainPhillip DrummondDeceased (2013)
Dana PlatoKimberly DrummondDeceased (1999)

Gary Coleman (Arnold Jackson)

Gary Coleman, who played the lovable Arnold Jackson, was arguably the most famous of the Different Strokes cast. His catchphrase, “What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” became iconic. After the show ended, Coleman struggled with financial and legal issues, and he also had ongoing health problems due to a congenital kidney disease. Sadly, Coleman passed away in 2010 at the age of 42 after suffering an intracranial hemorrhage.

Todd Bridges (Willis Jackson)

Todd Bridges portrayed Arnold’s older brother, Willis Jackson. Following the end of Different Strokes, Bridges faced numerous personal challenges, including drug addiction and legal troubles. However, he turned his life around and has since worked as an actor and director. He has appeared in various television shows and movies and has become an advocate for sobriety and a motivational speaker.

Conrad Bain (Phillip Drummond)

Conrad Bain played the kind-hearted millionaire Phillip Drummond. After Different Strokes, Bain continued acting, appearing in shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Unforgettable.” He retired from acting in the late 1990s and lived a quiet life until his death in 2013 at the age of 89.

Dana Plato (Kimberly Drummond)

Dana Plato took on the role of Kimberly Drummond, the Drummonds’ daughter. Plato’s life after Different Strokes was tumultuous, with struggles including substance abuse and legal issues. She attempted to revive her career with roles in independent films but unfortunately passed away in 1999 at the age of 34 from an overdose.

Supporting Cast Members

The show also featured memorable supporting cast members such as Charlotte Rae, who played the housekeeper Mrs. Garrett before leaving to star in the spin-off “The Facts of Life.” Rae passed away in 2018. Other supporting actors have also continued with their careers or retired from acting.

Charlotte Rae (Edna Garrett)

Charlotte Rae’s character, Mrs. Garrett, was so popular that she was given her own spin-off show, “The Facts of Life.” Rae continued acting into her later years, including stage performances and voice work. She published an autobiography in 2015 and passed away in 2018 at the age of 92.

Post-Different Strokes Careers

Many of the cast members continued to work in the entertainment industry after the show ended. Some found success in other television shows or movies, while others took different paths, including writing and public speaking.

Legacy of Different Strokes

Different Strokes left a significant legacy in television history. It broke new ground by addressing issues such as race, class, and drug abuse. The show’s influence can still be seen in modern sitcoms that strive to combine humor with important social messages.

Reunions and Tributes

Over the years, there have been several reunions of the Different Strokes cast, including television specials and interviews. These events have allowed fans to reminisce and see how the actors have changed over time. The show and its stars have also been honored in various tributes.

Documentaries and Biopics

The lives of the Different Strokes cast have been the subject of documentaries and biopics, highlighting both their successes and the challenges they faced. These productions offer a deeper look into the impact that fame had on the young stars.

Where Are They Now: The New Generation

As time has passed, a new generation of fans has discovered Different Strokes through reruns and streaming services. The show’s enduring popularity has sparked interest in the current lives of the surviving cast members and the legacies of those who have passed away.

FAQ Section

What happened to Gary Coleman after Different Strokes?

Gary Coleman struggled with health, financial, and legal issues after the show ended. He continued to make television appearances but never replicated his earlier success. Coleman passed away in 2010.

Did any of the Different Strokes cast continue acting?

Yes, Todd Bridges has continued acting and has appeared in various television shows and movies. Other cast members also pursued acting to varying degrees before retiring or passing away.

Has there been a Different Strokes reunion?

There have been several informal reunions and tributes over the years, including television specials where cast members have come together to reminisce about the show.

What is the legacy of Different Strokes?

Different Strokes is remembered for its humor, its groundbreaking approach to social issues, and its impact on television culture. It also opened doors for shows featuring diverse casts and stories.

Are there any documentaries about Different Strokes?

Yes, there have been documentaries and biopics that explore the lives of the cast members and the influence of the show.


The cast of Different Strokes has experienced a wide range of fortunes since the show ended. While some have passed away, others have continued to work in the entertainment industry or have taken on new roles as advocates and public speakers. The show’s legacy endures, and its impact on television and culture remains significant. For fans of Different Strokes, the stories of the cast members are a poignant reminder of the show’s lasting influence and the complexities of life in the spotlight.

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