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Diff'rent Strokes 

The misadventures of a wealthy Manhattan family who adopted the children of their late African American housekeeper from Harlem.
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8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1  
1986   1985   1984   1983   1982   1981   … See all »
2 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
Conrad Bain ...  Philip Drummond 181 episodes, 1978-1986
Gary Coleman ...  Arnold Jackson 180 episodes, 1978-1986
Todd Bridges ...  Willis Jackson 172 episodes, 1978-1986
Dana Plato ...  Kimberly Drummond / ... 140 episodes, 1978-1986
Mary Jo Catlett ...  Pearl Gallagher 73 episodes, 1982-1986
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Storyline

Phillip Drummond, a widowed Manhattan millionaire and president of the mega-firm Trans Allied Inc., adopts two African American orphans from Harlem, 8-year-old Arnold and 12-year-old Willis. Drummond had made a promise to their dying mother, his housekeeper, that he would care for the boys after she passes away; their father had died years earlier. The boys, whom Drummond always introduced as his two sons, went from rags to riches literally overnight. At first, Willis was rather skeptical of their newfound wealth, but eventually, both he and Arnold felt right at home in their newfound surroundings. Also part of the family were Drummond's beautiful daughter, 13-year-old Kimberly; and his no-nonsense housekeeper, Edna Garrett. As the years passed, Mrs. Garrett left to become housemother at the Eastland School for Girls; she was replaced by the cantankerous Adelaide Brubaker and still later, charming Pearl Gallagher. Arnold's friends, Dudley and Robbie (and later, Charlie); Willis' ... Written by Brian Rathjen <briguy_52732@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Can the funniest, most opinionated nine year old south of Harlem find happiness as the adopted son of a suave, lily-white Park Avenue millionaire? (season 1)

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Family

Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 November 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

45 Minutes from Harlem See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Tandem Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (189 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Staff writer Fred Rubin composed a funky instrumental piece he offered as the theme song, but by the time he offered it, the more famous theme heard today had already been chosen. See more »

Quotes

[repeated line]
Arnold JacksonWillis Jackson: In Harlem...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Two hour-long episodes on the first season DVD are presented in their edited, two-part syndicated versions. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Moesha: There's No Place Like the Mitchell Home (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Diff'rent Strokes
(Theme Song)
Written by Alan Thicke, Al Burton and Gloria Loring
Performed by Alan Thicke
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

American Masterpiece
29 November 2001 | by sewheeleSee all my reviews

"Diff'rent Strokes" ranks among a handful of masterpieces that have made their debuts on American television. So powerful and three-dimensional are its characters that it puts lesser works such as the over-bloated mini-series "Roots" to shame. "Strokes" hit the airwaves like a bombshell back in 1978; most of its viewers had yet to see the harsh realities of the ghetto depicted on the small screen. Before their eyes, they noticed two hard-edged African-American street urchins in a highly competitive game of basketball (these scenes were no doubt a key influence on the works of future African-American filmmakers Spike Lee and the Hughes Brothers). This no doubt awoke white America to the grittier, more nihilistic aspects of the urban community. If that wasn't reality enough, the children are taken aback by the presence of wealthy WASP Mr. Drummond(who despite such class and ethnic differences is miraculously able to relate to the youngsters without resorting to urban slang). In an act of great compassion, he hugs them and decides to save them from depravity in a modern-day Dante's Inferno. The threesome soon rejoice as they enter Drummond's slick limo and take off. Because of his frail demeanor, Mr. D is barely able to wave his driver off yet does so out of desperation. This is a terrific character quirk that genius actor Conrad Bain brings to such a complex role.

Had "Strokes" simply stayed on this route, it would've remained a TV classic. However, nothing prepared audiences for the ground-breaking episode in which pedophilia, of all topics, was presented in such harsh detail. Actor Gordon Jump blew away all his previous achievements ("WKRP", Maytag commercials) with his remarkable performance as a seemingly benign old man with a dark, dark secret. I won't spoil it for you here, but the reaction of the child's father is one of the most heartwrenching and subtle displays of Method acting in recent memory. A great episode, and one indicative of this landmark series' finest moments.


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