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Diff'rent Strokes (1978–1986)

TV Series  |  TV-PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Family
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The misadventures of a wealthy Manhattan family who adopted the children of their late African American housekeeper from Harlem.

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1986   1985   1984   1983   1982   1981   … See all »
2 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete series cast summary:
 Philip Drummond / ... (181 episodes, 1978-1986)
 Arnold Jackson (179 episodes, 1978-1986)
 Willis Jackson (169 episodes, 1978-1986)
 Kimberly Drummond (140 episodes, 1978-1986)


Phillip Drummond, a widowed Manhattan millionaire and president of the mega-firm Trans Allied Inc., adopts two orphaned black brothers 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 on; 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 current 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' girlfriend, ... Written by Brian Rathjen <briguy_52732@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Family


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 November 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

45 Minutes from Harlem  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (189 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The show's title derives from the popular expression "Different strokes for different folks." See more »


Willis Jackson: Arnold's always under my feet. I'll never have any privacy until he gets married.
Arnold Jackson: Married? On MY allowance?
See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Jeff Goldblum/Aerosmith (1993) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A sitcom classic that is still adored by millions of fans throughout the world today
16 June 2003 | by (England) – See all my reviews

' Diff'rent Strokes ' is undoubtedly a sitcom classic, one of those hugely popular television shows that is still adored by millions of fans throughout the world today. Through regular reruns a whole new generation is being introduced to the antics of the Park Avenue bunch, a bunch who so entertainingly captivated us all during the show's initial screening between 1978-86.

The family friendly series made a star out of Gary Coleman, forever immortalised as the loveable scamp with the chubby cheeks, Arnold Jackson, and his catchphrase "Whatchu Talkin' About?" made television history. Yet despite it's cosy sitcom settings, ' Diff'rent Strokes ' was not afraid to address sensitive issues and during it's long run expertly dealt with the likes of racial prejudice, child molestation and bullying.

Conrad Bain, a distinguished actor who had earlier appeared in tv's ' Maude ' played Trans-Allied tycoon Phillip Drummond, the kindly widower who adopted the Jackson kids from Harlem, Arnold and Willis ( Todd Bridges ), after their death of their mother Lucy who had served as his housekeeper. The kids had to adjust to living in a swank Park Avenue penthouse with a new housekeeper ( initially Charlotte Rae as Edna Garrett, spun off into her own sitcom, ' The Facts Of Life ') and a teenage sister ( Dana Plato ) - cue plenty of comical misadventures!

Bain, Coleman, Bridges and Plato were a formidable team and you cannot help but warm to their likeable characters. They were wonderfully supported by the likes of Rae, the late Nedra Volz ( so funny in the 1985 movie ' Moving Violations ' ) and Mary Jo Catlett as housekeepers Edna Garrett, Adelaide Brubaker and Pearl Gallagher.

Once ' Diff'rent Strokes ' ended the young cast were unable to escape the pressures of fame and their various scrapes with the law somewhat tarnished the show's image. The lovely Dana Plato for one sadly passed away in 1999 due to a suspected drugs overdose.

2003 will mark the 25th Anniversary of ' Diff'rent Strokes ' and I would hope that a reunion of sorts is on the cards. And wouldn't it be intriguing if Gary Coleman stepped into the shoes of an adult Arnold Jackson, perhaps as the new head of Trans-Allied in a spin-off series?

7 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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