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Dana Plato (1964-1999)

Then:
Good-girl Kimberly Drummond, Diff'rent Strokes.

Now:
Died May 8, 1999, of what authorities ruled a suicide by intentional drug overdose. She was 34.

FYI:

  • Per the National Enquirer, was the subject of a wrongful-death suit filed by son Tyler Lambert against Robert Menchaca, the man who was with Plato on the day of her death (2006).
  • Appeared on Howard Stern's radio show the day before her death; declared she'd "never been happier."
  • Attempted to revive her career by posing nude for Playboy in 1989.
  • Attempted to revive her career by acting nude in the 1997 softcore flick, Different Strokes: The Story of Jack and Jill and Jill.
  • Arrested for a botched armed robbery of a Las Vegas video store. Entertainer Wayne Newton posted her $13,000 bail (1991).
  • Arrested for forging a Valium prescription (1992).
  • Post-Strokes, worked in Vegas revue and at a Vegas dry cleaners.
  • Frequently claimed to have been cast, at about age 8 or 9, in the Linda Blair role in The Exorcist. Screenwriter/producer William Peter Blatty said in Former Child Stars: The Story of America's Least Wanted that he had no such recollection of Plato being offered Regan.
  • Frequently claimed to have turned down the Brooke Shields role in Pretty Baby.

    Tributes:

  • From Paul Petersen (The Donna Reed Show):
    "Dearest Dana, you teach a hard lesson. In life, too much too soon. In death, the press gives you too much...and too late. How does the death of a troubled girl push a war off the news? What does it say about us? For years we in A Minor Consideration have been honest about our approach to the needs of kids grown far from fame. We deal in guilt and shame. I wonder, Dana, if people listened to the folks from 20/20 and Dateline and Larry King Live. Will they watch Leeza and Sally and say, 'What a shock,' or will they say, 'I knew this was going to happen. Why didn't I pay more attention?' Hold your children close, my friends. Tell them about Dana. Tell them the truth. Yes, there is a sound when a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear. There's a sound when a tender young sapling falls, too." (Posted: 1999)
  • From Krista Errickson (Hello, Larry):
    "Dear Dana, not many know the pain we suffered under the helm of Tandem/TAT [a production company]. I did try, tried to reach out to you from that long distance to lend you my helping hand. To tell you, it's okay, I understand. But I couldn't reach you. I couldn't tell you there was a better, more friendly world out there. That education and knowledge were the best revenge. I only wish, and hope, the laughter we shared in our cross-over shows (especially about Kim [Richards], and her damned lip gloss fits) will never die. You are in my heart, and shaken to my knees about your death. We will always watch [your son] Tyler for you, and keep vigilant of your image that you never seemed to be able to master yourself. We'll do it for you. Rest in Peace, my friend." (Posted: 1999)

    Links:

  • Dana Plato Tribute Site
  • A Minor Consideration: In Memory of Dana Plato
  • Owen Keehnen Interviews: Dana Plato
  • Sitcoms Online: Dana Plato Memorial Site
  • Sitcoms Online: Diff'rent Strokes

    Articles by FORMER CHILD STAR CENTRAL editor Joal Ryan:

  • "Report: Dana Plato Wrongful Death Suit Filed" (E! Online, 2006)
  • "The 'Diff'rent Strokes' Kids: Cursed?" (E! Online, 1998)
  • "'Diff'rent Strokes' Kid Dana Plato Dead" (E! Online, 1999)
  • "Dana Plato: Suicide" (E! Online, 1999)

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