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Diff'rent Strokes TV Show


Diff'rent Strokes

Date September 26, 2008
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Diff'rent Strokes is an sitcom that aired on NBC from 1978 to 1985, and on ABC from September 1985 to March 1986. The series stars Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges as Arnold and Willis Jackson, two African American boys from Harlem who are taken in by a rich white Park Avenue businessman named Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain) and his daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato), for whom their deceased mother previously worked.
More than just a ratings hit for NBC, the Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin-produced Diff'rent Strokes was a pop-culture phenomenon, thanks largely to the wise-beyond-his-years performance of star Gary Coleman. Launched in November 1978 as a mid-season replacement for the failed Joe Namath series The Waverly Wonders, Diff'rent Strokes vaulted to no. 27 in the Nielsen ratings; audiences responded to the warmth and humorous culture clash between wealthy Philip Drummond (Lear vet Conrad Bain) and Arnold and Willis (Coleman and Todd Bridges), the sons of his late housekeeper whom he adopted. Though Bain, Bridges, Dana Plato (as Bain's daughter), and Charlotte Rae (as housekeeper Mrs. Garrett) all delivered solid performances, it was Coleman's charm, his timing, and most of all, his catch phrase "Whatchoo talkin' bout?" that drew in viewers.

Diff'rent Strokes Cast

The series was so successful that NBC used it to launch or boost two other shows: The Facts of Life, which sent Mrs. Garrett to run a girls' school, and the McLean Stevenson program Hello, Larry, which followed Strokes on the network. Though perhaps best known to current audiences for the unfortunate luck suffered by several of its cast members after the show's cancellation in 1986, this first-season set offers a pleasant reminder of the show's charms.

Cast & Characters

  • Conrad Bain as Phillip Drummond
  • Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson
  • Todd Bridges as Willis Jackson
  • Dixe Carter as Maggie McKinney (1984-1985)
  • Dana Plato as Kimberly Drummond (1978-1984)
  • Mary Jo Carlett as Pearl Gallagher (1982-1986)
  • Rosilind Chao as Miss Chung (1982-1983)
  • Dody Goodman as Aunt Sophia (1981-1982)
  • Janet Jackson as Charlene DuPrey (1981-1982)
  • Nedra Volz as Adelaide Brubaker (1980-1982)
  • Shavar Ross as Dudley Ramsey (1981-1986)
  • Le Tari as Mr. Ted Ramsey (1981-1985)
  • Steven Mond as Robbie Jackson (1982-1983)
  • Nikki Swasey as Lisa Hayes (1982-1986)
  • Danny Cooksey as Sam Mckinney (1984-1986)
  • Mary Ann Mobley as Maggie McKinney (1985-1986)
  • Jason Hervey as Charlie (1985-1986)
  • Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Garret (1978-1980)

Broadcast History

Diff'rent StrokesFirst Telecast: November 3, 1978
Last Telecast: March 7, 1986
Original Network:  NBC,  ABC
Number of Seasons: 8
Number of Episodes: 189
Original Primetime TV Schedule:
  • November 1978- October 1979, NBC, Friday 8:00-8:30pm
  • October 1979- October 1981, NBC, Wednesday 9:00-9:30pm
  • October 1981- August 1982, NBC, Thursday 9:00-9:30pm
  • August 1982- August 1985, NBC, Saturday 8:00-8:30pm
  • September 1985- March 1986, ABC, Friday 9:00-9:30pm

Theme Song Lyrics & Opening Credits

"Diff'rent Strokes" by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton

Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum,
What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
A man is born, he's a man of means.
Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.
But they got, Diff'rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
Everybody's got a special kind of story
Everybody finds a way to shine,
It don't matter that you got not alot
So what,
They'll have theirs, and you'll have yours, and I'll have mine.
And together we'll be fine....
Because it takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
Yes it does.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
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Diff'rent Strokes On DVD

Season 1 Season 2 View all Diff'rent Strokes DVDs, books, merchandise and collectibles from Amazon.com

Diff'rent Strokes Trivia

Each Diff'rent Strokes episode taught some lesson about how to live a good life. In fact, in 1983, first lady Nancy Reagan appeared on a Diff'rent Strokes episode about drug abuse to promote her "Just Say No" program.

Although we never saw Mr. Drummond do much work, his fortune came from his career as the President of Trans Allied, Inc.

Mr. Drummond's housekeeper, "Mrs. Garret", became the star of a "spin-off" TV show titled, "The Facts of Life (1979)". In fact, the very first episode of "The Facts of Life" was a crossover episode with "Diff'rent Strokes".

Philip Drummond also appeared on a few episodes of the TV show, "Hello Larry". He and Larry were old Army buddies.

Gary Coleman, who played loveable Arnold Jackson, was born with a defective kidney and received a transplant at five years of age. The abnormal functioning of his kidney during his first five years of life is what caused him to be smaller than normal for his age.

Todd Bridges had the "child star" problems that many other young people experience when they achieve great success early in life. He couldn't get work due to being "type cast" as Willis Jackson. After some trouble with the law over drug charges, however, Todd really turned his life around! He fought his way back into show business, not only as a producer and director behind the camera, but also as an actor! He also got married and had a son and he travels all over the U.S. lecturing at schools and churches about the value of leading a "clean" life without drugs, gangs, etc.
Last modified on December 16, 2013
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