Dana Plato was an American actress known for her role in the sitcom ‘Diff'rent Strokes.’ She began her acting career as a young girl by appearing in some commercials. Then she started taking up small roles in TV shows. However, she never truly made an impact on the small screen until she appeared as Kimberly Drummond in the hit sitcom ‘Diff'rent Strokes.’ Following her departure from the series, Plato struggled as an actress, trying to find good roles. She eventually ended up getting minor roles in independent films and video games. Her professional career never really took off. Her personal life was also a difficult one. Born to an unwed teenager, Plato was adopted by a business owner and his wife when she was just seven months old. When she was three, her adoptive parents divorced, further traumatizing the already troubled little girl. The quality of her personal life did not improve even after she grew up. Her marriage proved to be a short-lived one and she was plagued by addiction to drugs and alcohol. Plato died from an overdose of a prescription drug when she was 34.
Dana Plato began giving auditions with her mother when she was a little girl, eventually appearing in over 100 television commercials for companies including Atlantic Richfield, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Dole. In 1975, she appeared in an episode of the series ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’. This was followed by her movie roles in ‘Return to Boggy Creek’, ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’ and ‘California Suite’. Then in 1978, the actress was cast in NBC’s ‘Diff'rent Strokes’. The sitcom told the story of a wealthy white widower named Phillip Drummond and his daughter who adopt two black boys. In this series, Plato played the role of Kimberly, Drummond's daughter.
In 1979, she guest-starred in the sitcoms ‘Hello, Larry’ and ‘CHiPs’. She featured in an episode of ‘Family’ and ‘ABC Afterschool Specials’ in 1980. In the ensuing years, Plato did a few small screen projects like the TV film ‘High School U.S.A.’, ‘The Love Boat’ and ‘Growing Pains’. Towards the end of her career, she appeared in erotic, soft-core pornography films. She appeared nude in the 1989 flick ‘Prime Suspect,’ the 1995 film ‘Compelling Evidence,’ and in the erotic drama movie ‘Different Strokes: The Story of Jack and Jill...and Jill’ in 1998. Plato also featured on a cover of a lesbian lifestyle magazine named ‘Girlfriends.’
In 1992, she lent her voice to the character of Kelly Medd in the video game ‘Night Trap’ and also featured as Deborah Nichols in the song ‘The Sounds of Silence’. In the ensuing years, Plato starred in a few films, such as ‘Blade Boxer’, ‘Desperation Boulevard’ and ‘Pacino Is Missing’.
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Family & Personal Life
Dana Plato was born on November 7, 1964 in Maywood, California, USA to an unwed teenager named Linda Strain. At seven months old, she was adopted by Dean Plato, a trucking company owner, and his wife Florine Plato. When she was three, her adoptive parents divorced, following which she lived with her mother.
Talking about Plato’s love life, she married Lanny Lambert in 1984. The couple had a son, Tyler Edward Lambert. They divorced in 1990 and her ex-husband was given the custody of their son. She was once briefly engaged to filmmaker Fred Potts. However, her romance with him ended soon and she went on to start a relationship with her manager Robert Menchaca.
Drug Abuse, Legal Issues & Death
During her years on ‘Diff'rent Strokes,’ Dana Plato struggled with alcohol and drug addiction problems. She admitted to using cocaine and cannabis and even suffered an overdose of diazepam when she was 14.
In 1991, the actress was arrested for robbing a video shop in Las Vegas. The following year, she was arrested again for forging a prescription for diazepam. Plato served 30 days in prison for violating the terms of her probation. She also entered a drug rehabilitation centre immediately thereafter.
She died on May 8, 1999 after overdosing on the painkiller Lortab and the muscle-relaxant Soma. Her death was ruled aS a suicide.