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Conrad Bain, famed 'Diff'rent Strokes' father, dies at age 89

Meredith Dobes

Conrad Bain (right) on the set of 'Diff'rent Strokes' with Coleman (middle) and Bridges (left).

Conrad Bain, 89, actor known for playing Phillip Drummond in the sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” (1978-89), passed away Monday from natural causes at his home in Livermore, California, according to his daughter, Jennifer Bain.

Bain was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada on Feb. 4, 1923 to Jean Agnes Young and Stafford Harrison Bain. He studied at the Banff School of Fine Arts, served in the Canadian Army during World War II, became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1946 and graduated in 1948 from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Bain found success as a Broadway actor in the late 1950s and had his first television appearance on “Dark Shadows” as town innkeeper Mr. Wells. He organized and served as the first president of the Actors Federal Credit Union in the early 1960s. Bain’s most well-known roles are as Dr. Arthur Harmon in “Maude” from 1972-78 and as Mr. Drummond.

Bain’s costar from “Diff’rent Strokes,” Todd Bridges, told E! News that he was very saddened by Bain’s death, as Bain was like a father to him.

“…Conrad was well-loved and made going to work each day enjoyable for all of us,” he said. “He will be missed, but never forgotten.”

“Diff’rent Strokes” focused on widower Mr. Drummond and his family: his teenage birth daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato) and two black adopted sons Arnold (Gary Coleman) and Willis (Bridges) Jackson. The sitcom included issues of race and class relations and brought Coleman and Bridges to fame.

In earlier interviews, Bain said he was disappointed in the lack of meaningfulness in newer sitcoms.

“I think they got off the track when they first hired a standup comic to do the lead,” he said. “Instead of people creating real situations, you get people trying to act funny.”

Bain was married to actress Monica Sloan from 1945 until her death in 2009. He is survived by his three children: Jennifer, Kent and Mark.

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