Real name: Dana Michelle Strain
Birthdate: November 7, 1964
Partner: Robert Menchaca
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Dana Michelle Plato (November 7, 1963 – May 8, 1999) was an American actress who became famous playing the role of Kimberly Drummond in the U.S. television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes. Plato's career declined after her departure from the show, with appearances in low-budget films, including some softcore pornography. She had longstanding personal problems and committed suicide on May 8, 1999.
Toward the end of her career, Plato chose roles that could be considered erotic or even softcore pornography. She appeared partially nude in Prime Suspect (1988) and Compelling Evidence (1995), but her most infamous picture is 1998's Different Strokes: The Story of Jack and Jill...and Jill. The movie's title was changed after shooting to tie it to Plato's famous past, but was not connected in any way to the sitcom other than through her involvement. Plato played a lesbian, and the film was rated X due to sexual content, but it was not considered hardcore pornography. Plato would appear in only one more film.
In 1988, Plato's adoptive mother, Kay, died from a blood disease. Shortly thereafter, her marriage to Lanny Lambert began to fall apart. The couple officially divorced in 1990, with Lambert getting custody of their only child, Tyler (born 1985). During this time, Plato posed nude for Playboy, appearing in the June 1989 issue. The issue was notable for featuring Hugh Hefner's new wife, Kimberley Conrad. Conrad's inclusion took a considerable amount of attention away from Plato's pictorial.
In her interview with Howard Stern, Plato mentioned that the traumatic events of her mother's death and her husband leaving her took place during the course of only a week. In desperation, she signed over power of attorney to an accountant who absconded with the majority of her money, leaving her with no more than US$150,000. She claimed that the accountant was never found, despite an exhaustive search, and had stolen a grand total of more than US$11 million of other people's money, as well.
Just before her death, she and her fiancé, Robert Menchaca, were living in an RV in Navarre, Florida.
The next day, Plato and Menchaca were returning to California, hoping to revive her stagnant career. The couple stopped at Menchaca's mother's home in Moore, Oklahoma (coincidentally, the birthplace of her Diff'rent Strokes co-star, Danny Cooksey) for a Mother's Day visit, five days after large swaths of Moore and surrounding areas in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area were devastated by F4 and F5 tornadoes in the Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak. Plato went to lie down inside her recreational vehicle parked outside the house and subsequently died of an overdose from Vanadom (Soma) and Vicodin. Her death at age 34 was eventually ruled a suicide. However, both Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, both of whom remained friends with Plato after Diff'rent Strokes ended, have said they do not believe she intended to kill herself.