12 May 2010

Tyler Lambert, son of Diff'rent Strokes actress Dana Plato, dies at 25

The dark legacy left by the late 1970s TV series Diff'rent Strokes struck again on May 6 when Tyler Lambert, the only son of Dana Plato, took his own life at the age of 25. Plato married Lambert's father Lanny Lambert in 1984 and gave birth to their son a year later. The couple divorced in 1990, and boys father was given custody of Tyler. The Tulsa, Okla., office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed that Lambert died from a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.

Lambert was just 14 when his mother took her own life at age 34 with an overdose of prescription pills on May 8, 1999. Reports from his grandmother indicate that the young man never got over his mother's death.

The woes of the cast have played out over the years as a horrible example of what happens when child actors grow up and can't adapt with their new realities. When Diff'rent Strokes launched in 1978, it was a huge hit, but by 1984 Plato was being written out due to rumors of drugs and wild parties. She appeared nude in playboy in 1989, and starred in a string of B movies. Legal problems came to her in the 1991 when she was arrested for attempting to rob a video store at gunpoint, followed by an arrest for forging a prescription of Valium. She took her own life by overdosing on Vanadom and Vicodin.

Her two co-stars, Todd Bridges and Gary Coleman also faced legal and drug troubles as they grew. Bridges fought drug addiction, though now he is clean and sober with a new book out and tour on the dangers of drugs. Coleman has had well-publicized money problems along with scrapes with the law.

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