Celebrity: Dana Michelle Plato
Occupation: Kimberly on Diff’rent Strokes
Dana played a wholesome, goody two-shoes kinda gal on the successful 1980’s tv sitcom Diff’rent Strokes. She was the female lead on the show but not the most popular character, that distinction going to Gary Coleman who played Arnold Jackson. Hooo boy. In real life Dana was anything but wholesome. She was addicted to valium before the series and at 14, nearly died of an overdose. During the filming of the series Dana remained addicted to valium. Occasionally she forged prescriptions to get a hold of her drug of choice. Kimberly … tsk, tsk, tsk. What would Daddy say? After the series Dana’s career took a spectacular nosedive. She did not get picked up as a regular in other television sitcoms. She made fleeting guest appearances on the Loveboat and Fantasy Island and she starred in what is known as B-movies (low-budget, commercial flicks that use up drive-in time before the real movie comes on). She starred in occasional soft core porn, got breast implants, and in 1989 posed as a centrefold for Playboy. In 1984 she had a son named Tyler Edward. To see the opening of Diff’rent Strokes click here.
That’s where it gets tawdry.
By 1991 Plato moved to Las Vegas where she worked in a dry cleaning store (hey, it’s a job). She committed armed robbery at a video store (irony) and netted a whole $164.00. If Dana craved another chance in the spotlight, it worked. The store clerk called the police and stated “I’ve just been robbed by the girl who played Kimberly on Diff’rent Strokes.” Perhaps he should have asked for her autograph before she made off with the loot. Dana was arrested and given 5 years probation. Well it beats jail, I guess. To see Dana in California Suite click here.
In 1998, Dana posed for the cover of Girlfriends, a lesbian publication and “came out” during an interview. Later she denied it and insisted she was heterosexual. Tsk, tsk. What some people will do for a little attention and a few bills.
In 1999 Dana gave an interview to Howard Stern, discussing her alcoholism, claiming she had been sobre for a decade, insisting she was now drug-free and was happily engaged to her manager, Robert Menchaca. To hear Dana on the Howard Stern show click here. To watch a video about Dana Plato`s Last Days click here.
The following day Dana was found dead inside her recreational vehicle outside of her fiancee’s mother’s home. She committed suicide by a drug overdose. She was 34. Her son Tyler committed suicide at the age of 25 in 2010 by a gunshot wound to the head. To read the article click here. Runs in the family, I guess.