List of Diff'rent Strokes characters

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This is a list of characters from the NBC and ABC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes.

Main characters[edit]

Character Portrayed by Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Phillip Drummond Conrad Bain Main
Arnold Jackson Gary Coleman Main
Willis Jackson Todd Bridges Main
Kimberly Drummond Dana Plato Main Recurring
Edna Garrett Charlotte Rae Main Guest
Sam McKinney Danny Cooksey Main

Phillip Drummond[edit]

Phillip Drummond
First appearance Movin' In (Diff'rent Stokes Pilot)
Last appearance The Front Page
Portrayed by Conrad Bain
Information
Gender Male
Occupation Investor
Spouse(s) 1st wife (died)
Maggie McKinney Drummond (1984-)
Children Kimberly Drummond (daughter)
Willis Jackson (adopted son)
Arnold Jackson (adopted son)
Sam McKinney (stepson)
Relatives Mrs. Drummond (mother)
Mr. Drummond (father)
Sophia Drummond (sister)
Anna Van Drummond (cousin)
Hans Van Drummond (nephew/Anna's son)
Nationality American

Phillip Drummond is a fictional character on the hit television series, Diff'rent Strokes, he was portrayed by Emmy Award nominee and Golden Globe winning television actor, Conrad Bain, who previously worked on the All in the Family spinoff Maude (1972-1978).

Phillip is a friendly, wealthy white widower, who runs Trans-Allied, Inc., and was born December 3, 1931 in Manhattan, New York.

Phillip has a daughter, named Kimberly, and two adopted African American sons, Willis, and his younger brother Arnold Jackson. He also had a somewhat eccentric older sister named Sophia. Arnold and Willis's mother, Lucy Jackson, worked as a housekeeper for Phillip Drummond many years ago, but her death-bed wish was that Mr. Drummond would take care of her two sons. In the first episode of the series, Phillip welcomes Arnold and Willis into his home.

Phillip had dated several women, and would later get remarried to Maggie McKinney, a television aerobics instructor (Dixie Carter from 1983-1985 and Mary Ann Mobley from 1985-1986). Maggie subsequently introduced her son by her ex-husband, Sam McKinney (Danny Cooksey), to the family.

Phillip Drummond is the only character to appear in every episode of the series.

Kimberly Drummond[edit]

Kimberly Drummond
First appearance Movin' In (Diff'rent Strokes Pilot)
Last appearance Bulimia
Portrayed by Dana Plato
Information
Aliases Kim Drummond
Gender Female
Family Phillip Drummond (father)
Unnamed Mother (deceased)
Arnold Jackson (adopted brother)
Willis Jackson (adopted brother)
Sam McKinney (stepbrother)
Maggie McKinney Drummond (stepmother)

Kimberly Drummond is a fictional character on the popular television series, Diff'rent Strokes, and was portrayed by Dana Plato from 1978 until 1986, near the end of the show's eighth season.

Kimberly Drummond is the only biological child and daughter of wealthy widower, Philip Drummond (Conrad Bain). She was born on Park Avenue in New York on October 22, 1964. Kimberly was shown as a caring, loving big sister to both Willis and Arnold, but as a wealthy, coming of age teenager, she suffered from various problems. Several such instances took place in season 6, one of which involved a two-part "very special" episode on the dangers of hitchhiking, where she was nearly a victim of sexual assault by a deranged man. In another episode, no one in the family knew that she was suffering from bulimia, though she later admitted to having a problem and agreed to seek help.

Arnold Jackson[edit]

Arnold Jackson
First appearance Movin' In (Diff'rent Strokes Pilot)
Last appearance The Front Page
Portrayed by Gary Coleman
Information
Gender Male
Family Lucy Mae Jackson (mother) (1938-1977)
Henry Jackson (father) (d. 1975)
Phillip Drummond (adopted father)
Kimberly Drummond (adopted sister)
Willis Jackson (older brother)
Sam McKinney (stepbrother)
Maggie McKinney Drummond (stepmother)
Myrtle Waters (distant cousin)
Nationality African American

Arnold Jackson is a breakout character on the television series Diff'rent Strokes. He was portrayed by Gary Coleman.[1][2][3]

Arnold John Jackson is the younger brother of Willis Jackson (Todd Bridges), and was born in Harlem, New York City on July 19, 1970. Arnold is a "precocious moppet," who was practically known for his catch phrase, "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout Willis?, which became a part of popular culture and in 2006 was included in TV Lands "The 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catch Phrases" special.[4]

Arnold's father died in 1975, and his mother died in 1977. His mother worked as a housekeeper for a wealthy White widower, named Philip Drummond (Conrad Bain). Before her death, his mother expressed her wish for her 2 boys to be cared for by Mr. Drummond. He agreed, and in 1979, he officially adopted Willis and Arnold.[5]

Arnold is the main character in the series. In many episodes, he is shown as being a selfish younger brother, or coming up with or being suckered into some scheme to keep out of trouble or obtain his desire of the episode. When the boys first moved in with Mr. Drummond, Willis wanted to move back to Harlem, while Arnold was satisfied with their new surroundings. Willis eventually changed his mind, and they decided to stay with "Mr. D.," as the boys initially referred to him.[6]

In another episode, Arnold has to fight a school bully named "The Gooch," so that he will not pick on him anymore. However, Mr. Drummond does not want Arnold fighting the bully, and ultimately decides that Arnold must make peace with "The Gooch." Arnold, however, listens to his brother, Willis, who tells him to fight back. This ended with Arnold getting a black eye, and both boys getting in trouble.

Arnold is best friends with Dudley Johnson (played by TV actor Shavar Ross), who, like Arnold, was adopted. Dudley appeared in many episodes, and both were involved in various schemes throughout the series. Steven Mond also played Robbie Jayson, Arnold's other best friend, who once pressured him to try drugs. In one episode, Arnold had to have an appendectomy, but was too scared to see the doctor.

Willis Jackson[edit]

Willis Jackson
First appearance Movin In (Diff'rent Strokes Pilot)
Last appearance The Big Bribe
Portrayed by Todd Bridges
Information
Gender Male
Occupation High School/College Student
Family Lucy Mae Jackson (mother, 1938-1977)
Henry Jackson (father, d. 1975)
Arnold Jackson (younger brother)
Kimberly Drummond (adopted sister)
Phillip Drummond (adopted father)
Sam McKinney (stepbrother)
Maggie McKinney Drummond (stepmother)
Myrtle Waters (distant cousin)
Nationality African American

Willis Jackson is a fictional character on the popular late 1970s-early 1980s television series, Diff'rent Strokes, and he was portrayed by Todd Bridges.[7]

Willis James Jackson is the older brother of Arnold. He was born in Harlem on April 27, 1965. The boys' late mother was a housekeeper named Lucy, for a wealthy White man, named Phillip Drummond, and her deathbed wish was that he would take care of her two kids, and Philip Drummond officially adopted them in 1979. Willis's catch phrase is "Say what?"

Willis was portrayed alternately as rebellious and responsible.[8] In one episode, Willis joins a gang named "The Tarantulas."

Willis also had a girlfriend, named Charlene DuPrey, portrayed by Janet Jackson of both the television shows Good Times and Fame. Jackson appeared from the show's third season (1980–1981) until 1984, through the show's sixth season.

Bridges' role as Willis Jackson started to fade, because of casting changes in the 1984-1985 season, when Danny Cooksey was added as Sam McKinney, his and Arnold's new younger stepbrother. Bridges did not appear as often in the show's final season, though his name remained in the opening credits.

Edna Garrett[edit]

Edna Garrett is a fictional character on the television series Diff'rent Strokes and Facts of Life. She was portrayed by Charlotte Rae.

She was the housekeeper for wealthy widower, Phillip Drummond, but left midway through the second season of Diff'rent Strokes to take a job as house mother at Eastland Academy, a girls' school in Peekskill, New York.

References[edit]

  1. ^ James Robert Parish. "The Hollywood Book of Extravagance: The Totally Infamous, Mostly Disastrous ...". Books.google.co.uk. p. 10. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  2. ^ "Jet". Books.google.co.uk. 1982-03-08. p. 59. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  3. ^ "Ebony". Books.google.co.uk. p. 104. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  4. ^ The Star Ledger, December 11, 2006
  5. ^ Ronald L. Jackson; Jamie E. Moshin. "Communicating Marginalized Masculinities: Identity Politics in TV, Film, and ...". Books.google.co.uk. p. 180. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  6. ^ TV.com. "Diff'rent Strokes - Season 1, Episode 1: Movin' In". TV.com. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  7. ^ Darrell Y. Hamamoto. "Nervous Laughter: Television Situation Comedy and Liberal Democratic Ideology". Books.google.co.uk. p. 127. Retrieved 2016-04-01. 
  8. ^ "Jet". Books.google.co.uk. 1982-03-08. p. 59. Retrieved 2016-03-15.