From Disney Sweetheart To Armed Robber: Inside Dana Plato’s Tragic Downfall

Like some of her Diff’rent Strokes costars, Dana Plato ran out of money following her career as a child actress and was forced to take any job she could find. Hungry for cash and with no one to turn to, she ditched her Disney sweetheart image for a much more revealing persona.

“America watched this wholesome little girl grow up on TV and they expected her to stay that way,” says radio host Kellie Rasberry in REELZ’s new docuseries, The Price of Fame: Diff’rent Strokes. “So I don’t think these pictures got the response she was hoping for.”

Article continues below advertisement

With no TV job offers coming in, she moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

Dana Plato ("Diff''rent Strokes") at the Hollywood Collectors Show. Inset right, Dana Plato as Kimberly Drummond.
Source: Getty Images (2)
Dana Plato

“She was living on the edge of poverty and unable to reach out to anyone, and it ended unfortunately with one of her more… infamous acts,” says Diff’rent Strokes biographer Greg Pincus.

In 1991, Plato entered a video store to deliver what would become her most dramatic role yet: armed robbery.

“To be a known actress, to go into a video store where you’re probably going to be recognized, it just seemed like a cry for help,” says Rasberry.

Plato committed suicide by drug overdose on May 8, 1999. She was 34.


Want OK! each day? Sign up here!

Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 OK!™️. A DIVISION OF MYSTIFY ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK INC. OK! is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services. Offers may be subject to change without notice.