Conrad Bain of 'Diff'rent Strokes' has died at 89
BY Wire reports
Thursday, January 17, 2013
1/17/13 at 4:24 AM
Conrad Bain, a veteran stage and film actor who became a star in middle age as the kindly, white adoptive father of two young black brothers in the television sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," died Monday in Livermore, Calif. 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, along with his own daughter, played by Dana Plato. Race and class relations became topics on the show as much as the typical trials of growing up.
Coleman became an instant star, and Bain proved an ideal straight man. The series lasted six seasons on NBC and two on ABC.
Coleman died in 2010. Plato died in 1999.
Bain went directly into "Diff'rent Strokes" from another comedy, "Maude," which aired on CBS from 1972 to 1978. As Dr. Arthur Harmon, the conservative neighbor often zinged by Bea Arthur's liberal feminist, Bain was so convincing as a doctor that a woman in an airport once asked him for medical advice.
Bain previously had appeared in films occasionally, 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."