Diff'rent Strokes is a popular American sitcom that aired on the NBC television network from November 3, 1978 to May 4, 1985, and on ABC from September 27, 1985 to March 7, 1986. The first and second seasons of the series are available on DVD.
There were three maids during the show's run: Edna Garrett (played by Charlotte Rae), Adelaide Brubaker (played by Nedra Volz), and Pearl Gallagher (played by Mary Jo Catlett). They lived on Park Avenue in New York City. As Arnold, Coleman popularized the catch phrase "Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" It often varied, depending on whom he was addressing: "Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Kimberly?", "Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Dad?", "Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Sam?", etc. The series was popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and is still mentioned in pop culture references today.
In Season 1, Charlotte Rae appeared in every episode as Edna Garrett, but she departed the show partway through the second season to star in her own top-rated, long-running spin-off, The Facts of Life. Following Rae's departure, Nedra Volz took over as the housekeeper, Adelaide Brubaker. Although she was not part of the official cast in Season 2, Volz appeared several times.
In the fourth season, future Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Janet Jackson played Willis's steady girlfriend Charlene DuPrey. Janet Jackson remained on the series (although she was not a cast member) until the end of Season 6, when Charlene and Willis decided to break up.
In Season 5, Mary Jo Catlett portrayed Pearl Gallagher, the last of the three maids, and joined the cast as a series regular. Pearl appeared in almost every episode until the final season. Midway through Season 6, Dana Plato became pregnant and approached the producers of the show to include her pregnancy. Initially they agreed to add it, but later recanted and she was fired. Plato's character, Kimberly, was written out of the storylines by saying that she lived in Paris for a couple of years. Plato did not appear as a series regular in the final two seasons of the series, but she made occasional guest appearances. By Season 7, ratings were beginning to sag, so new characters were added to open up future storylines. Dixie Carter and Danny Cooksey portrayed recently divorced television aerobics instructor Margaret "Maggie" McKinney, and her son, Sam McKinney. Carter and Cooksey joined the cast for Season 7 as series regulars. Philip and Maggie developed interest in each other and married at the end of the sixth season with special guest stars including Rae, Goodman, Volz and Jackson.
Carter departed from the series at the end of the seventh season. In the summer of 1985, NBC canceled the series due to poor ratings. In the final season of the series, Mary Ann Mobley replaced Dixie Carter as the new Maggie McKinney Drummond, and ABC aired the show on Friday nights. ABC canceled the series after 19 episodes, and aired its final episode on March 7, 1986.
Todd Bridges was arrested in 1994 after allegedly ramming someone's car after an argument. He also had issues with illegal drugs for several years, before turning his life around. He has since traveled across the U.S.A., touring schools discussing the dangers of drug use.
In 1989, Gary Coleman sued his parents and his former manager over misappropriation of his trust fund. Although he was awarded over $1,000,000 in the decision, he filed for bankruptcy in 1999. Coleman was charged with assault in 1998 after he punched a woman while he was working as a security guard at a shopping mall. In 2001, Coleman (still working as a security guard) was videotaped trying to stop a vehicle from entering the mall. The driver ridiculed him, and released the tape to be broadcast on numerous television shows. In the mid-2000s, Coleman lent his voice and likeness to the controversial videogame Postal2. In 2007, Coleman was cited for disorderly conduct in Provo, Utah for having a "heated discussion" with a woman.
Diff'rent Strokes was also known (and frequently mocked) for its many "very special episodes", most notably an anti-drug episode ("The Reporter", in Season 5) that featured then-First Lady Nancy Reagan, who promoted her "Just Say No" campaign, and an episode that guest starred Gordon Jump as a pedophile bicycle-shop owner, who attempted to sexually molest Arnold and his best friend Dudley (Shavar Ross). The sexual abuse episode was credited somewhat for bringing the crime of child molestation (and its warning signs) more into the public eye.
Other episodes involved Arnold and Willis being rejected by Mr. Drummond's old prep school because they aren't wealthy enough, a con artist (played by Whitman Mayo) posing as a relative of Arnold and Willis in an attempt to get access to the inheritance they were left by a former neighbor, and Kimberly's new love Roger (who turns out to be racist) not allowing his sister to go to their school's costume ball with Willis because of his race.
In another episode on the dangers of hitchhiking, Kimberly and Arnold were abducted by a deranged man (played by Woody Eney), who initially acted as a "Good Samaritan" and a very nice guy by giving the two of them a ride, and inviting them to his apartment.
In the final season (when the show moved from NBC to ABC), the one-hour season opener revolved around Sam being kidnapped by a bereaved father (played by Royce D. Applegate) to replace his own dead son. In yet another episode, the family discovered that Kimberly was suffering from bulimia after witnessing her devour an entire sheet cake, and then go to the bathroom to vomit.
Another very special episode dealt with Arnold and Sam meeting a street performer. After a performance, she has an epileptic seizure and Sam is scared and thinks she is dying. The boys feel uncomfortable around Karen the performer and when they are making jokes about her seizures, they find out that Pearl, the housekeeper herself has epilepsy but, unlike Karen, has control of her seizures by taking medications.
|France||Arnold et Willy|
|Argentina||Blanco y negro|
|Italy||Harlem contro Manhattan (1980-81), Il mio Amico Arnold (1981-1986), Arnold (after 1988)|
|Brazil||Minha Família é uma Bagunça|
|Japan||Arnold boya wa ninkimono|
|Israel||על טעם ועל ריח|
|DVD Name||Ep#||Release Date|
|The Complete First Season||24||September 14 2004|
|The Complete Second Season||26||January 31 2006|