It is often called the “Curse of Different Strokes.” Many of you may be old enough the ABC sitcom that featured a pair of boys from Harlem adopted by an uber-wealthy businessman living in the most posh part of new York City.
The show starred three kids, Dana Plato who Kimberly, played the pretty, blond, white natural daughter of Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain), Todd Bridges as Willis, the older brother, and Gary Coleman as the cute tiny little brother Arnold. It was quite an enjoyable show by a very likable group of actors.
It did not take these kids long for public perception of them to change. Coleman was obviously the star. The tiny kid (who never grew over 4-foot-8) with an 8-foot wide smile. As he aged Coleman was busted for drug and alcohol abuse. He also was arrested for domestic battery. He died at age 42 of a brain hemorrhage. The curse is of course drug addiction and premature death.
Plato’s off-screen career fizzled into a blur of soft-core sex movies and posing for Playboy Magazine. She too suffered from drug addiction and eventually dies of an overdose at the age of 34. She was the first to pass away.
Bridges certainly was not immune to the curse either – at least the substance abuse part. He was severely addicted to crack cocaine and was arrested and tried for the murder of a drug dealer in 1988. He was represented by famed attorney Johnnie Cochran (of OJ Simpson fame) and was acquitted of all charges.
He is currently back in show business as a commentator on the World’s Dumbest show. With the other two stars already passed on, it is up to Bridges to keep his life sober and be a positive influence on youth.