Vale: Conrad Bain

US actor Conrad Bain, best known as the wealthy Phil Drummond in Diff’rent Strokes, has died aged 89.

2013-01-17_1933aUS actor Conrad Bain, best known as the wealthy Phil Drummond in Diff’rent Strokes, has died aged 89.

Bain died Monday night of natural causes in California.

The series starred Coleman and Bridges as African-American brothers Arnold and Willis, who are taken in by patient Park Avenue businessman Drummond and his daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato) to live in their penthouse. The boys’ mother had worked for Drummond, a widower.

The series ran from 1978-86, seven seasons on NBC and one on ABC. Coleman’s line in the show, “What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?,” became a popular catchphrase. Coleman (he died in May 2010), Bridges and Plato (she died in May 1999) all had legal and personal problems after they left the show.

Other credits included Maude, Studio One in Hollywood, The Defenders, Dark Shadows, Grandpa Goes to Washington, The Waverly Wonders, Mr. President, The Facts of Life, Hello, Larry, The Love Boat, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Unforgettable.

His movie credits include I Never Sang for My Father (1970), Lovers and Other Strangers (1970),Who Killed Whats’ername (1971), Jump (1971), Bananas (1971), Up the Sandbox (1972), A Fan’s Notes (1972), A Pleasure Doing Business (1979) and Postcards From the Edge (1990).

He also had a long career on the stage.

Todd Bridges, who for eight seasons played adopted son, is now the sole survivor of the show’s core cast. Dana Plato committed suicide in 1999, and Gary Coleman died after falling down a flight of stairs in 2010.

Bridges says he’ll miss the man who was his surrogate father both on and off the screen.

“This is probably one of the most heart-wrenching days I’ve had in a long time,” Bridges, now 47, told the Hollywood Reporter. “That Conrad’s not going to be around anymore to talk to. Whenever I needed advice, I’d call Conrad.”

“He was a really good man,” Bridges says. “He really was like Mr. Drummond. Just an all-around nice guy. He treated me better than my own father treated me.”

The ensuing years brought plenty of turmoil for the show’s young stars, including Bridges’ much-publicised addiction to crack cocaine in his 20s and an arrest for the murder of a drug dealer, for which he was later acquitted. Through it all, Bridges says, Bain was there to offer a sympathetic ear and his advice.

“When I had my son, I took him to Conrad’s house and he loved him, played chess with him, called him his grandson,” Bridges says. “He just really knew how to take care of people.”

“I cried all day. I can’t even cry anymore. I’ll truly miss that man,” he adds.

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