Todd Bridges, who played the adopted son of actor Conrad Bain in "Diff'rent Strokes," said he "cried all day" over his co-star's death, according to the Hollywood Reporter
Bain passed away at 89 on Monday of natural causes. A prolific actor with a number of stage productions on his list, he was best known for his role as Phil Drummond in the sitcom that aired from 1978 to 1986, a rich white businessman who adopts two Harlem kids played by Gary Coleman and Bridges.
Bridges is the only surviving actor from the show. Dana Plato, who played Bain's daughter Kimberly Drummond, died in an intentional overdose suicide in 1999, and Gary Coleman, who played Bain's adopted son Arnold, died in 2010 after being in a coma from a fall down a flight of stairs.
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, 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."
The two first met in 1977, when Bridges was 12.The chemistry between Bain, Bridges, and Coleman in a 20-minute presentation for NBC executives was so effortless that the network brass bought a full season on the spot, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"First time in history they bought 26 shows based on a presentation like that — a balcony scene that me, Conrad, and Gary worked on together," Bridges recalls.
"Diff'rent Strokes," an eight-season hit, captured the hearts of American families.
Bridges said Bain was definitely his father figure.
"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."
Bain died Monday night at a comfort-care facility in Livermore, Calif., his daughter Jennifer said Wednesday, three weeks from his 90th birthday. She said he died "comfortably" and "peacefully," according to a People magazine report.
In years following the show, and like Coleman and Plato, Bridges' life was rocky. He was addicted to crack cocaine in his 20s and faced charges in the murder of a drug dealer, for which he was later acquitted. He also endured sexual abuse as a child, the child star's memoir "Killing Willis" revealed.
Through it all, Bridges told The Hollywood Reporter, Bain was there to offer a sympathetic ear and his advice.
Down the road, he got clean and started a family of his own, fathering Spencir Bridges, who is now 14.
"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 said. "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 added.
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