'Diff'rent Strokes' dad Conrad Bain dead at 89

16

January

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From the AP:

Conrad Bain, a veteran stage and film actor who became a star in middle age as the kindly white adoptive father of two young African-American brothers in the TV sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, has died. Bain died Monday of natural causes in his hometown of Livermore, Calif., according to his daughter, Jennifer Bain. He was 89.

The show that made him famous debuted on NBC in 1978, an era when television comedies tackled relevant social issues. Diff'rent Strokes touched on serious themes but was known better as a family comedy that drew most of its laughs from its standout child actor, Gary Coleman.

Bain played wealthy Manhattan widower Philip Drummond, who promised his dying housekeeper he would raise her sons, played by Coleman and Todd Bridges. Race and class relations became topics on the show as much as the typical trials of growing up. The series lasted six seasons on NBC and two on ABC, and is remembered mostly for its child stars' adult troubles.

Coleman, who died in 2010, had financial and legal problems in addition to continuing ill health from the kidney disease that stunted his growth and required transplants. Bridges and Dana Plato, who played Bain's teenage daughter, both had arrest records and drug problems, and Plato died of an overdose in 1999 at age 34.

The Canada native went directly into Diff'rent Strokes from another comedy, Maude, which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1978. He had appeared occasionally in films, including A Lovely Way to Die, Coogan's Bluff, The Anderson Tapes, I Never Sang for My Father and Woody Allen's Bananas. He also played the clerk at the Collinsport Inn in the 1960s television show Dark Shadows.

He married artist Monica Sloan in 1945. She died in 2009. He is survived by three children: Jennifer, Kent and Mark.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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[Last modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 3:54pm]

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