Different Strokes Cast

Tuesday, May 3 by Sandi Harrison

No one was sure "Diff’rent Strokes" would work featuring a racially blended family, but the "Diff’rent Strokes" cast made it work. The rich white man and his daughter who adopted the black housekeeper’s children delighted the television fans. The three kids stole the show and it lasted for eight seasons.

  1. Conrad Bain as Phillip Drummond (1978-1986). Phillip Drummond played the wealthy white father of Dana Plato and adoptive father of two black children from his housekeeper who passed away. Even though the kids stole the show, Conrad stayed on until the end. Since 2000 he has been screen writing and in retirement in Los Angeles.
  2. Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson (1978-1986). Arnold Jackson was the younger of two brothers who were adopted by Phillip Drummond.  He suffered with nephritis and never got any taller than 4’8”. He did some small acting jobs after "Diff’rent Strokes," but tragically died at the age of 42 from a brain hemorrhage.
  3. Todd Bridges as Willis Jackson (1978-1986). Willis Jackson was the older of the two adoptive brothers on "Diff’rent Strokes." After the show ended he had troubles with the law and drugs, but presently has been clean and sober for many years. In addition to doing some films, he travels around the world delivering the message to youth about negative peer pressure and the dangers of drugs.
  4. Dana Plato as Kimberly Drummond (1978-1986). Kimberly Drummond was the daughter of Phillip Drummond and older adopted sister of Willis and Arnold Jackson. The three stole the show on "Diff’rent Strokes." She married in 1984 and was fired due to pregnancy but returned for the final season. She divorced in 1990 and lost custody of her son. She posed for Playboy, got in trouble with the law, did some B-grade movies, and became addicted to drugs. She died of a prescription drug overdose in 1999.
  5. Mary Jo Catlett as Pearl Gallagher (1982-1986).  Pearl Gallagher joined the cast in 1982 as the housekeeper for the kids on "Diff’rent Strokes." She has performed on the Broadway stage, in films and on television. She played the voice of Mrs. Puff in "SpongeBob Square Pants" and has appeared in three films lately, and has also participated in several fund raisers.
  6. Danny Cooksey as Sam McKinney (1984-1986). Sam McKinney played in the final seasons of "Diff’rent Strokes." He later was the pall bearer for Dana Plato’s funeral. Since the end of the show he has done voice-overs for video games and some vocals for small rock bands.
  7. Charlotte Rae as Edna Garrett (1978-1984).  Edna Garrett appeared on "Diff’rent Strokes" for six years and also was also the housemother on "Facts of Life." She appeared in a couple of television movies after the show ended. She enjoys her retirement now with her son and grandchildren.
  8. DixieCarter as Maggie McKinney (1984-1985).  Maggie McKinney was played by Dixie Carton for one season but was replaced by Mary Ann Mobley. She was best known for her role on "Designing Women" as Julia Sugarbaker. She died of endometrial cancer in 2010.
  9. Mary Ann Mobley as Maggie McKinney (1985-1986). Mary Ann Mobley replaced Dixie Carter as Maggie McKinney on "Diff’rent Strokes" final season. A former Miss America, Mary Ann is also a motivational speaker, makes documentaries, and an award-winning actress.
  10. Nedra Volz as Adelaide Brubaker (1980-1982). Adelaide Brubaker was the housekeeper on "Diff’rent Strokes" between Charlotte Rae and Mary Jo Catlett. She played on several sitcoms during her career like the "Dukes of Hazard" and "Filthy Rich". She died in 2003 at the age of 94 with complications from Alzheimer’s Disease.

-Sandi Harrison

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