Episode 03: Dana Plato - Video Store Robbery (1991)
1:51PM Jan 18, 2023
Welcome to Just curious media. This is that's a crime. I'm Jason Connell.
And I'm Sal Rodriguez.
Okay, Sal, we are back for episode three of that to crime.
Yes. I mean, I'd love to say I'm excited. But at the same time, we're kind of dealing in tragedy here.
That's true. This is a very different show than let's talk over chi, or let's talk movies, where it's more triumphant. And we're talking about things that we love and dissecting movies and shows forensically. This is about crimes. And this episode in particular, is a really tragic story. So
yeah, very much so especially for you 80s, folks, yeah, children of the 80s I guess you would say?
Yes, indeed, absolutely. A product of the 80s. As we're breaking down Dana Plato video store robbery from 1991. Most of our audience is already aware of the fact that we lost in a Plato unfortunately, far too young. But I don't put the year that she passed away. I highlight the crime, and that was in 1991. But we're gonna go through her career for the most part, the highs, and then unfortunate lows, but yeah, this is tragic. But this story captivated me sound I'm sure you as well, because you and I are both big fans of Different Strokes. And she wasn't the only one that came off that show that had kind of a rocky past, if you will. But I felt this was important, Sal, because it was one that I always wanted to go back and research more because there was some local tie ins to me and we'll get into that. But I don't know how you felt when I first do this subject matter at you.
Well, as far as general interest I definitely have an interest in the Dana Plato. By the way, let me just say right off the bat, she pronounces her name Dana Plato, but how we pronounce it may be different. Alright, so
Dana, Michelle Plato was born November 4 1964, passed away may 8 1999. She was an American actress and model. And she was mostly known Sal for portraying Kimberly Drummond on the NBC ABC sitcom different strokes, which ran from 1978 to 1986, for which he received a Young Artist Award nomination. That's out. Were you a fan of Different Strokes right out of the gate. Are you a late comer? Because I know how you are on shows?
No, I did see different strokes and its original run. I will proudly tell you that I wished Mr. Drummond could have adopted him. And I'm telling you, I was watching that show like I was waiting for Mr. Drummond's limousine to arrive at any given moment. Of course, it never happened, which talked about so. Yeah. But no, I love the show. I grew up on the show. And very interestingly, I did not know about her modeling, and did not know about the Young Artist Award nomination. So I didn't know at the time that she had that much notoriety.
Yeah, I didn't either. I just took the show for what it was. I saw this show in its inception as well. 78 to 86 before they jumped the shark and before Mr. Drummond got remarried, and they brought him that young kid Sam, before the show kind of got reinvented. I mean, early years, I would look at Kimberly, Dana, and just think, well, that's who she is. She's like the smart daughter to Mr. Drummond. She does all the right things. She's a good girl at heart. And so I always believed, because I was young enough that these people were their personas. And of course, who didn't love Arnold on the show? He was the story, you know, and his little friends, and of course, he had Todd bridges, but I liked him as well. Of course, it's Willis, but it was more peripheral, and just a little bit more like Kimberleys character. Now, I also remember seeing through tabloids because my grandmother always had these all over her house, but I was aware of her issues. And so Plato struggled with substance and alcohol abuse, and dealt with various legal issues. Some of this was going on while on the show, Sal?
Yeah, again, totally oblivious. I was I have no idea. I was just a kid watching the show. Love the show had no idea any of this was going on and didn't find out a lot until recently. And then especially now for the show.
Yeah. And then in 1999, unfortunately, we lost data played out to a drug overdose, which was later ruled a suicide, which we'll get into later in the show. So yeah, of prescription drugs at the young age of 34. Wow. Yeah. 34 feels like she was around forever.
Yeah, this is very sad. You know, I think we kind of had an idea going into this that this would be a little bit of a lighter episode after what we came off of for Episode Two, but Right, I'm already feeling I'm kind of sad here for Dana. Definitely.
Yeah, I am too. But it's still great to go on this journey to research more about it and really have a newfound respect for her and what she struggled with. So early life playdough was actually born Dana Michelle strain, and that was again on November 7 1964. In Maywood, California to Linda's strain an unwed teenager who was already cared for an 18 month old child. So in June of 1965, the seven month old Dana was adopted by Dean and fluorine K playdough. Now Dean on a trucking company and raise playdough in the San Fernando Valley sow right in your neighborhood.
Yeah, that I did not know. I did not know that Dana Plato was from the San Fernando Valley. And another thing which is disappointing to hear about her being born to an unwed young mother, where's the Father? It starts off with the absent father and let me tell you something. I don't want to get too personal but this whole absent father thing really chaps my hide?
He has a does well, if that's not bad enough at three, her adoptive parents divorced and she moved in with her mother. Okay. The success she did have is amazing considering her beginnings.
Well, yeah. And this also brings to mind the what if so what if she was never adopted and was raised by Dana Michelle strain? What could it become of her life? One way or another? I guess we'll never know. It's all speculation, of course.
So now we get into her career and at a very young age, playdough began auditioning with her mother and appeared in over 100 commercials. She even made her television acting debut at the age of 11, making a cameo appearance on the television show the $6 million man.
I didn't see that episode. I love the show. I watched that show too. But I don't remember that episode. I'm gonna have to google that one.
And then her first film debut was at the age of 13, an exorcist to the heretic 1977 Of course, a sequel to the classic wolgan frickin exorcist. And she would later make another film the same year as the lead role and return to Boggy Creek now, so I remember the original so she had this thing out of the gate of doing the sequels.
I'm pretty sure I saw Boggy Creek on movie McCobb hosted by a Vyra
Yeah, the original is pretty damn good effect. I nearly went and saw it again. On a rerelease. during Halloween in the theater, I was like, Oh, wow, I'm gonna go see this. But it wasn't the sequel, which was this now, both of these sequels received negative reviews from critics. Of course, they didn't live up to the originals and most sequels don't as you and I both know. But then Plato went on to star in California sweet 1978. And South this movie was loaded.
That's almost like a It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World cast as far as all star cast.
Absolutely. I mean, it's a Neil Simon movie, first of all. Then you have Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Maggie Smith, Michael Caine, Walter Matthau, Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, etc, etc. Wow. So it was a minor role. But this film was a critical and commercial success and earned accolades from the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. And of course, it would be Plato's first and only successful feature film.
Well, you know, go back to exorcist two for a second I'm pretty certain that she was uncredited in that because I just saw the movie in the last couple of years. Yeah, completely forgotten about Dana played out being in it, and then happen to see her and thinking holy cow, Dana Plato is an exorcist to completely forgot to complete did not no, look for her in the credits. Don't think I saw.
Yeah. And that happens a lot early movies, you don't get credited or are you are cut out completely. So moving on. It was during this time after these movie runs that she appeared on TVs, The Gong Show nuts out. Do you recall that show?
Well, since we're talking Jason, my mother was on The Gong Show. I know. I know. You didn't expect that one. My mother was on The Gong Show. And she's saying the problem is my mother tried to go on the gong show and like sing a legitimate song. And that wasn't the place for that. Now. She was quickly gone by JP Morgan.
Oh my god, so good. Well, Plato's appearance, she was spotted by a producer that then helped her get cast as Kimberly drum and the older sister two adopted brothers Arnold and Willis Jackson from the sitcom different strokes.
Well, you know what I just mentioned that way. Were a dad's earlier because of Dana Plato's real life. But now that I think about it when it comes to different strokes. You have Kimberly Drummond, you have Mr. Drummond, who was Kimberly's mother. I know she passed away I believe Mr. Drummond was a widow on the show if I'm not mistaken.
Yeah. And you're absolutely right about that. But I'm sure her father Conrad Bane. I think he probably was a real life father figure to her and all of them on the show.
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Conrad Bane was so great. You know what, as I'm older and watched the show, he had such an endearing quality that I didn't even really appreciate as a kid. But I appreciate it now at my age like yeah, he was great. He was really great in that role.
Yeah, it's true. It's almost again, like I thought when I first watched it, like, that's method acting, he is that guy. He is Mr. Drummond. Yeah, but yeah, he did such a great Java just didn't even think twice about it. So of course, the series debuted 78. It becomes an immediate hit, and playdough start on the show from its inception all the way up to 84. And then again from 85 to 86.
Jason, can I just chime in here for one second? Oh, yeah, just worth mentioning since we're talking. I used to run into Todd bridges. At an arcade. It used to be an arcade go kart track. Anybody can check this out. It was on the corner of whatsit in Van Oh, and in North Hollywood. So we're going back to about the late 80s, early 90s. I'd be in there with my friends after school. We'd be in there playing video games riding go karts, and I would see Todd bridges in there. I never said anything, but I knew holy cow. There's Willis Jackson right in front of me.
That's awesome. I didn't have any Todd bridges or Gary Coleman stories or run ins in Tulsa, Oklahoma, unfortunately. So back to Dana Plato. So on her final parents on different strokes, it was a highly memorable episode in which Kimberly suffered from the effects of bulimia. I remember this episode very vividly sound to you.
You know what I only remember one very special episode of Different Strokes. And it was where Arnold and deadly meet the bike shop owner. Oh, yeah. Okay, so that's the only you know, quote, unquote, very special episode of Different Strokes that I recall. I do not remember the bulimia episode,
this show actually crossed some lines, and you learn some things about like drugs and people making informal passes at people. And you're that right age, and it really dealt with those heavy subject matter. So anyway, I remember the episode very well. And then Dana, like I said earlier, she was nominated for a Young Artist Award for her work. But also, she was part of two TV Land Award nominations given to the cast of the show. And one of the tidbit I learned while I listened to the Howard Stern interview, was that she was making around $100,000 per episode later in her run. So pretty damn good money for a show at the time, and also considering her age.
I'm very surprised to hear that, especially considering, you know, there were these monumental moments in TV sitcoms, where the cast united and got the big bucks. I think like friends, yeah, but wasn't it the cast of cheers before that?
Yeah, I'm sure they got coaxed into coming back at some point in time. And yeah, you're right. That's what would happen. And then Seinfeld, same thing, but this wasn't part of that era. And no, it could he paid good money. And she wasn't even the lead.
Yeah. You know what? No, when I learned this little tidbit, I was very surprised to hear that. By the way. That's not saying she didn't deserve it. I'm just can't believe that they were handing out that much money in that era at that time. Yeah.
Right. So while filming different strokes, Plato appeared in the television special a step in time. 1981 For her role played Oh, received another Young Artist Award nomination. So trajectory really good here. So moving up. Oh, yeah. And then she went on to start a television film High School, USA 1983. And listen to this cast, Michael Fox. He wasn't credited as Jay Fox. And this by the way, well, Nancy McKeon Todd bridges, Crispin Glover, Bob Denver, Anthony Edwards, Tony Tao, and Ken Azzaman. So another TV star slash future movie stars. And in spite of the film receiving mixed reviews, it gained popularity due to this cast I just mentioned,
we'll talk about a tie in with Nancy McKeon right. Bridges and Todd bridges. Hello, Nancy McKeon was in facts of life and facts of life was a spin off of Different Strokes.
Because Mrs. Garrett used to be on different strokes as the maid and she switched over and she went to the facts of life. Yes, Charlotte.
I did. Yes. And by the way, a couple things a I watched facts of life growing up almost as religiously as different strokes, particularly because of the spin off aspect. But years later, I had the pleasure of meeting Charlotte Rae at the Chateau show for Estelle Reiner wife of Rob Reiner, forming the gardenia rumen in West Hollywood, went to go see or do to a friend of mine by the name of bass, Carl Reiner's wife car riders wife is Estelle Reiner and then we went to go see her sing and Charlotte Rae was there also met Zelda Rubinstein that night. I don't know who that is. She was the short lady and poltergeist go into the light go into the light.
Of course, of course.
Zelda Rubinstein Rest in peace,
and Charlotte Rae we lost her August 5 2018 At the young age of 92. Rest in peace, Charlotte, rest in peace. I did not know that. And Conrad bade who I mentioned earlier, rest in peace as well passed away June 14 2013. At the age of 89,
by the way, that makes me very happy. I did not know Conrad bein live till 2013 It's so great.
Yeah. So after leaving different strokes, Plato attempted to establish herself as a serious actress but found it difficult as many child actors do. So this is not an uncommon story. She had breast implants and modeled for the June 1989. Playboy, but her career remained stagnant.
I have not seen that Playboy pictorial. And of course, I'm gonna try to google it after this, but have you seen that one before?
You know, it sort of rings a bell that knowing that she was in it. I don't ever recall seeing it though. Yeah, I've never seen it either. So consequently, she started taking roles in B movies, such as bikini Beach, race 1989, and lethal cowboy 1992. Now Also that year, Plato starred in The Video Game Night Trap, becoming one of the first celebrities to appear in a video game. Now so I don't remember this either. Do you remember Night Trap?
I have no recollection of Night Trap. But this brings to mind a little Morrow. Was she ever on Battle of the network stars? You remember that show? Hollywood Squares? Yeah, or any of those shows? Was she on some of those game shows? I could have sworn she was on Battle of the network stars at one time, you know, some sort of obstacle course or something like that.
She could have been sound, not all those appearances pop up. So unless you remember seeing it, or we did exact research of that in particular, but now it's a good question.
These other jobs she did in her later life. I didn't know about this. This was after I lost track of her. Of course, I lost track of her once different strokes went off the air.
Yeah. So toward the end of her career, playdough chose roles that were more erotic and she appeared nude and prime suspect 1989 compelling evidence 9095 And in the softcore erotic drama, wait for it, different strokes, the story of Jack and Jill and Jill 1998. Now the title was changed after filming in order to tie it to Plato's past. And film critic Nathan Raven, who I guess had worked at the onion, gave the film a harsh review stating the shamelessly titled different strokes lacks anything resembling even community theater level acting. Ouch.
Well, the word softcore erotic drama that almost I mean, it's a mash up. Yeah, exactly. Does that mean like NC 17. You know, does that mean x? What does that mean? Exactly? softcore erotic drama.
Yeah. And not good is what it means.
Yeah, NSFW. Not Safe For Work.
Her last films include desperation, Boulevard 1998, in which Plato appears as herself in the film, which is based on her own life. And then silent scream 1999 and Pacino is missing 2002 which was released after her death. So I would venture to say that Al Pacino was missing from this movie indeed.
Yeah. In fact, I'm probably guessing this does not reference Al Pacino. Maybe like Louie Pacino.
You know what, though? This makes me want to go down her library a little bit and I like I'd like to go like for most recent back, so I think I'm gonna use can find them it Okay, well, that wasn't gonna ask you off the air where we can find Pacino is missing or silent scream
here or even desperation Boulevard. I'd like to see this biopic about her, you know, so that's interesting to me. So now we're transitioning a bit to her personal life. Now, in addition to acting Plato was an accomplished figure skater. And at one point in time, she trained for an impossible Olympic team spot, Sal, this was news to me.
Yeah, I did not know that at all. So she probably could have played Tonya Harding in a made for TV movie later on,
probably could have. Well, another thing I learned that she attended Taft Charter High School, which is on Ventura and Winnetka Avenue in Woodland Hills, I used to live really close to this particular high school and sometimes walk the perimeter with Nikko in recent years. Other alumni at this school include Jason Bateman, Lisa Kudrow and IceCube
Jason if I could add one more to that list. Everlast from House of Pain.
Wow. So movies that were filmed at Taft charter high school because I don't want to move on just yet. The Brady Bunch movie 1995 Crazy Stupid Love 2011 The Amazing Spider Man 2012 and survival of Dana not does bear with me here 1979 This movie deals with a high school transfer student Dana as she moves to Los Angeles is suburb Valley district after her North Dakota parents get divorced. Is that not metta? For Dana Plato or what?
Well, first of all, I love that you use the word meta, but yeah, absolutely. See that's what I mean. I want to go into her library. I would like to see some of these films I would like to this expands my interest in data Plato's resume and career, I would definitely want to see this. And
maybe there's more different strokes cast members on future episodes of that's a crime.
Well, Gary Coleman did have some brushes with the law if I'm not mistaken,
as did Todd bridges your arcade buddy. Yes, yes.
Yeah, well, we might revisit those in the future.
So during her years on different strokes, Pio did struggle with drug and alcohol problems, but she admitted to drinking alcohol using cannabis and cocaine and suffered an overdose of diazepam when she was 14, so there's that and then in December 1983, playdough moved in with her boyfriend, rock guitarist Lanie Lambert, that's how do you remember landing? Lambert? I don't know. I have no recollection.
No, no, no, I'm assuming he was maybe part of a band. I mean, but no, the name does not ring a bell. No.
Okay. So the couple was married on April 24 1984. And their only child Tyler. Edward Lambert was born on July 2 of 1984. Now, when it was revealed that she was pregnant, Dana was written out of Different Strokes.
Yeah, this was a different era. I couldn't imagine that happening today. Right. But I'll have you know, this my family history. When my mother became pregnant in high school with my oldest sibling, she was kicked out of high school. Wow. So yeah, different era. Yeah.
So her costar, the late great. Conrad Bane stated in an interview with People magazine, she deliberately got pregnant while doing the series. And she said, when I get the baby, I will never be alone
again. Well, that's a sad statement says a lot right there, doesn't it? Yeah. Because also, right. She didn't have any siblings in real life. No. While I mean,
she had the one. Her unwed mother for adoption. That was another child. She never got to know as far as we know, wasn't raised with us. Yeah.
So she had a sibling, biological sibling, but in the adoptive family, the PLATO family, no siblings,
right. So Plato separated from Lambert in January of 88, the same week her mother died. Wow. And in desperation over these traumatic events, she signed over power of attorney to an accountant who disappeared with the majority of her money, Sal.
Yeah. And on the Howard Stern interview, she talks about how this guy not only ripped off her, but a lot of other people as well. So this guy, and she said that he was never found they haven't found this guy. He literally has vanished. Oh my god, do I wish this guy would be found really a guy like this really pisses me off?
This is not an isolated incident. I've heard of this so many times. And yeah, this one person in particular, leaves her with $150,000. So who knows what he got from Dana. And then he went on to get $11 million of other people's money so tragic. And then during her March 1990, divorce played a lost custody of her son Lambert, and was given visitation rights.
Yeah. Let's talk about everything is just going south right here.
Yeah. So just a few years ago, she's still on this hit show. Now she's been ostracized from the show. She's lost her mother, she's divorced and she's lost custody of her son. So this is a downward spiral which leads us to the crime of that's a crime. And on January 28 1991, Danna playdough, entered a Las Vegas video store, Sal produced a pellet gun and demanded money from the cash register.
Yeah, and you know what, I'm fairly familiar with pellet guns, especially from this era. I had a few DayZ pellet guns a few Hoelscher Crossman, the pellet guns. I used to love pellet guns as a kid. We weren't a gun family, but upon your 13th birthday, we were given a pellet gun or try out. Yeah, there you go. There you go. Christmas story. But you know what, to me, that implies. I'm not trying to kill anybody. You're not going to kill anybody with a pellet gun. You're gonna shoot an eye out? You're gonna hurt someone. You're not gonna kill anyone. So I hope the judge was lenient.
Yes, I agree with you sell. But the thought process, how much money I'd worked in a video store before I worked in blockbuster. Yeah. Not a lot of money at your disposal and a blockbuster. Yeah, yeah. And so I don't know what the ultimate plan was. Obviously wasn't that thought out? And also, let's not forget the fact that she's highly recognizable. And she didn't mask her face in any way.
Yeah, not unlike when Winona Ryder was caught shoplifting. I mean, I'm sure they were like, hey, the girl from Reality Bites was just shoplifting here, you know? Yeah, you can't hide.
But at least shoplifting she's trying to be discreet pain and playdough goes up puts this pellet gun Although whose denotes a pellet gun, you would recognize that but I'm a clerk, I don't know. Well, the clerk called 911 and said, I've just been robbed by The Girl Who Played Kimberly, on different strokes,
which talk about Kimberly.
Nice. Well, approximately 15 minutes after the robbery, Plato returned to the scene of the crime, which you're not supposed to do, and was immediately arrested. Plato had stolen $164. So, and I learned this from the Howard Stern interview that she returned there to really give the money back because she realized what a foolish thing this was, and she didn't really want to steal the money. And so she got booked. This was her crime. But Las Vegas entertainer, the one and only way Newton posted her $13,000 bail. And Plato was given five years probation.
Talk about throwing me for a loop I would never have expected. I mean, it might as well have said and magician David Copperfield posted it's like what Wayne noon posted or bail i Okay, interesting. I'm wondering if there was a little history there that we don't know about? I'm not
sure Sal. But I also know this is a different time. And this made headlines. I remember it vividly. It made its rounds on the newspapers, I'm sure the tabloids on whatever news there was about this type of thing. It was everywhere, because it was big news, like oh my god, here's the poster child for child stars. And this is what it leads to. I mean, particularly given the difficulties of the other co stars from different strokes, the issues that they had gone through. So it was big. I'm sure that Wayne Newton got wind of it and just took pity and mercy on her. And that's his town style. I mean, come on. 20 Newton.
Yeah. And wasn't this around the time? Robert Downey Jr. was going through his whole heroin thing, right. This was this was our off. Yeah, this was that era. Yeah. So definitely. The public. I was on the former child stars.
I remember seeing the images on the news or in newspapers. So yeah. And it was like, Oh my gosh, Kimberly's doing that now, like I remember thinking about it, for sure. Of course, I knew that Gary Coleman. I think he got emancipated from his parents. And I know Todd bridges had some things here and there. But this was a fall from grace and hadn't even been a decade South since she was last on the show. Well, turns out in January 1992, she's arrested again, but not for something as foolish, this time for forging a prescription for diazepam, which she Odede on and when she was 14. This time, she served 30 days in jail for violating her probation, and immediately entered a drug rehab center.
I see this I didn't know about also that she did indeed serve 30 days in jail. Imagine if you were in jail yourself. And then you call outside you go, I'm here in jail with Kimberly Drummond from different strokes, crazy. And then whoever you're talking on the phone says what you're talking about.
On May 7 1999, the day before she died, Plato appeared on The Howard Stern Show. And I know we both heard it before we came on and recorded but it was an eye opening interview sound. Now it wasn't video. It was just audio. I tried to find the video. It's not there anymore. It's just too old, I suppose. Yeah. But she spoke about her life discussing her financial problems, her run ins with the law, she admitted to being a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, but claimed she had been sober for more than 10 years, with the exception of what sell
well, when it comes to prescription drugs I had a good friend of mine years ago was in a very sober person and an AAA and one of the things these people have to consider when you're in recovery for either alcohol or illegal drugs, you have to consider the relationship with prescription drugs. So you can say I'm sober from cocaine, I'm sober from alcohol. But meanwhile, you're taking a bunch of painkillers. So you're essentially just switched your addictions. So in this instance, she may have been sober from illegal drugs, but here she is on prescription drugs.
And she did say she had a recent extraction of her wisdom teeth. But again, she's a user. She's had a drug problem. I'm sure that's a fine line, as you're pointing out, and she sounded a little bit off in the interview, at times very manic. Very callers. Were calling in today. There were some callers that were really crossing the line. They were questioning her sobriety, they challenged her to a drug test on the air, which angered playdough. And then she said, Sal, I couldn't believe I heard this. She said she would never commit suicide.
Yeah. And you know what? She maybe didn't commit suicide in the end, even though it's real to suicide. Yeah, yeah. Because what happens in these instances, is if you're a longtime drug user, who eventually it dies of a drug overdose. They assumed you know better right? So therefore they rule it a suicide but I don't know if we have any guarantee of knowing for sure that this was indeed a suicide as opposed to just an accidental overdose. Yeah, I agree or also what Tom Petty, officially died of now, regardless of what you read for Tom Petty's death it says he died of drug overdose. But I will tell you I read the LA County coroner's report and Tom Petty died of mixed drug toxicity, which is different than drug overdose. So she might have died in similar circumstances of mixed drug toxicity rule to suicide
could be rest in peace. Tom Petty, by the way, recipes, it was interesting to see Dana Plato get so worked up and sad when callers were calling in. And being kind to her, I thought, wow, it was really hitting her heart. It was like she was just a ball of emotions on that show. And I really enjoyed it. Although it was very sad to listen to because you know, what happens to her less than 24 hours later. And something else I did learn from that was the fact that her son was with her at this point in time. So she lost custody, but I guess he became of age. And she was actually with him during this time. So the day before, so I'm assuming the day after now, let's cut to her death on May 8 1999 playdough, and her fiance and manager Robert Menchaca. Were Returning to California and stopped at Munchak his mother's home in more Oklahoma for a Mother's Day visit. Now more Oklahoma is not too far from Tulsa, Oklahoma. So I know these were about it's about an hour and a half outside. It's closer to Norman, Oklahoma City. But yeah, I know this stomping grounds, if you will. And also I should point out that there was a point in time south in the mid 90s that Dana Plato and her son lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma because I would hear this from time to time and she was at the promenade mall getting their hair cut and blah, blah, blah. Now our paths never crossed, but she definitely has these Oklahoma ties and now she's engaged to someone with further Oklahoma ties. So but while they're playdough started to feel unwell, and she took a few painkillers and mix them with a few muscle relaxer
stopped, Jason There we go, right there is what I'm talking about mixed drug toxicity. Please hear me if you're gonna do drugs, prescription drugs, you're going to do illegal drugs. Try to do one at a time. When these things mix. It is deadly.
Hey, you just spoke about this with Tom Petty's death. So, Dan, it goes to lie down and her Winnebago with Manchaca which is parked outside the house. And upon waking up, he and his family discover that Plato had died in her sleep due to an accidental overdose, but again, later ruled a suicide based on Plato's long history of drug abuse now, so I still don't understand how they got to that point in time I buy your theory much more, where it's just an innocent mix, not knowing what you're doing, and bad things happen.
I just saw an old Cold Case episode. By the way, if you want to talk about crime, Netflix has no shortage of Forensic Files and cold case episodes. I just saw last night, an episode of somebody dying of what they thought was an accidental overdose, but turned out to be a murder. So believe me, I'd like to know more about this. Because when they just write something off as a suicide, I want more information.
Yeah, I don't think it's foul play. I think that she spoke highly of her fiance on the episode of Howard Stern, I should also mention that she only had the $150,000 that she had kept hidden after the accountant embezzled from her, so it wasn't like Manchaca was out for all this money that she had. And her boy was with her young Tyler was with her. So I'm not sure what happened to me, it sounds like an accidental overdose. It's even sadder that they've labeled as a suicide. But the bottom line is sound. We lost someone far too young, 34 years old. And it was like she just kind of stopped living after she left different strokes. And it's just so so sad. And a tale that happens far too often.
Do you think it has to do with all these young child actors who grow up and they're just not getting the roles that they deserve? They're just not getting them. And it just really messes with their head so much. And they just spiraled downward?
Well, it's a lot of factors. I mean, she didn't have the most stable home life. I mean, she was adopted, that's a good thing. That's a positive but then there's a divorce and she's raised by just a mother. Now maybe she did her best and She obviously was a showbiz mom and got her and all these things, but or was the stability behind that. All of a sudden you have success, but who knows what happens and you get around one thing and you get around drugs and it's a slippery slopestyle it's a tough one. And some people don't come out of it. And she was unfortunately one of them.
While she was already having drug problems at the height of her career, yeah, she was on different strokes. So she was already, let's say, self destructive. So later on when things go downhill, someone rips you off, you're not getting the acting roles. You get older Hollywood loves youth. And it's just a complete spiral downward. So she was, I think, a lot of victim of circumstance as far as what was happening in her life.
Yeah, you're like a 20 year old has been? Yeah, yeah. And it's just unbelievable. Like, what do you have the drawn, and it's tough. And now going on to the legacy portion of this episode. In 2000, Fox broadcast a television documentary, based on playdough, titled after different strokes when the laughter stopped, the film focused on her life and work after the show, including her death. Now, so I do want to see that, by the way, I've not seen that. But then in 2006, NBC aired the television film behind the camera, the unauthorized story of Different Strokes, which was based on the lives of the child stars. At the end of the film, Todd bridges and Gary Coleman appear near Plato's grave.
Well, and by the way, Todd bridges is still alive to my understanding. Yes, Gary Coleman. Rest in peace. Yes,
yes. We lost Gary Coleman. Absolutely. Although he wasn't supposed to live very long at all. That was always a big rumor. Yeah, the big always got these kidney problems. Yeah. And he won't live that long. But then he did. He was even on the Surreal Life, which was crazy.
Yeah. And there's that famous video of him on top of the car. He was a security guard. Yep. Yeah. So yeah, he did. He'd live longer than I think everybody thought he would. Yeah.
Now, if that's not a sad enough story,
oh, no, no, this is the part this really? Yeah. You think the worst is over, right? No, no, it's not.
On May 6 of 2010. Two days before the 11th anniversary of Plato's death, her 26 year old son Tyler committed suicide. And Tulsa, Oklahoma with a self inflicted shotgun blast to the head.
Yeah. Oh, boy. Very sad. Now, you weren't in Los Angeles in 2010. Right. I was. But you obviously heard about this. Were you like holy cow, Dana, Plato son committed suicide in Tulsa.
I hate to admit it. I do not recall when this happened in 2010. It wasn't on my radar,
it wouldn't have been headline news at the time, I don't think necessarily no effect.
I didn't learn of it until I was doing research for this episode. And my jaw dropped. I had no idea that Tyler had these strong Oklahoma ties even long after his mother's passing. And talk about someone who never even really got going. Here's a 26 year old Tyler and the trials and tribulations of his young life led him to this. So it's just pure tragedy. And I don't know what happened to his father. I'm not sure where he's at in life. If he's better off now, or are doing equally bad. I'm not sure but really a shame to hear this news, learn of this news and just pure tragedy.
You know, I don't want to get all supernatural, but in situations like this, okay, so let's say for argument's sake, Dana Plato died of suicide, and then your son dies of suicide. I mean, is that not a family curse? I mean, what's going on here?
Exactly. I mean, he maybe he just never lived it down. That he remained close to her fiance, Menchaca and his family? I don't know. I mean, what kind of support group did Tyler have?
But you had, why? Because you had his father Lanny Lambert, right. Yeah. But we don't know what happened to him. No, I know what's going on with him, oh, boy, someone passes away. There's a whole story behind them. But then you have all the lives that are impacted and are affected by this very, very sad. I never knew all this growing up. I didn't learn all this until recently. And it just very sad, a very sad story.
It absolutely is. And at least I could say that Dana Plato left us with her performances is Kimberly Drummond. If I ever go back and watch that show, and it's been a while since I've visited Sal, but at some point in time, I will. And she was fantastic on the show. And at least she's left us that, to me. That's her legacy. And I'm trying not to think about all the bad things that she was going through and the demons that she must have fought. I again, I really enjoyed that interview on Howard Stern, although it was a little morbid to listen to it. I'd like to hear more from her. Maybe there's more interviews out there. I'd like to see these two documentaries. But yeah, it's a tragic tale, a tale that happens. I think, like I said earlier on far too often, but she did leave us this wonderful role and a role that I'll never forget.
Yeah, definitely part of an iconic ad series. It's gonna be with us forever, especially as the 80s I mean, we are more nostalgic than ever, about the 80s right now, hence the popularity of Cobra Kai hence the popularity of our show. Let's talk Cobra Kai. The 80s are huge. So go back and watch different strokes. I think I'm gonna do it you know why I'm going down memory lane here. I'm gonna go ahead and give different strokes another viewing let's talk
different strokes what you talk about it is a great title too and let's not forget we passed over this for sure an amazing theme song
now the world don't move to the beat just one drum what might be right for you may not be right for Psalm a man is born he's a man of means then along come to they got nothing but the genes but they got different strokes it takes different strokes it takes different strokes to move the world. Yes, it does. It takes different strokes to move the world.
Thank you for indulging me Jason and rest in peace. Dana Plato.
Yes, absolutely. Dana Plato. So, thank you so much for listening. And please be sure to subscribe to that's a crime wherever you get your podcast. You can also really help us by giving the show a five star rating on Apple podcast.
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