Whatchoo talkinâ€™ about Willis?
Diffâ€™rent strokes was one of those â€˜niceâ€™ programmes of the 1980â€™s that absolutely everyone remembers. It ran from 1978 to 1986, with a total of 189 episodes. One of the main aims of the programme was to explore racial and social issues, which was a first for a sit-com of this era.
Diff’rent Strokes took place in New York and centred around the day-to-day life in the Drummond household. Philip Drummond (President of the massive conglomerate Trans-Allied Inc) was a widower and had a 13 year old natural daughter, Kimberly.
However, the household was shaken up when Drummond’s black housekeeper died and her deathbed wish was that he would take care of her two sons, Arnold and Willis Jackson. As a man of his word. Drummond willingly took both of them in when she died, but there were more than a few double-takes as Mr D introduced the two black boys as his â€˜sonsâ€™.
Gary Coleman (Arnold) was only 10 years old when the series began. He was born with a congenital kidney disorder called nephritis, and had several operations early in his life. At the age of 5, he had a kidney transplant. This meant that he was much smaller than normal for his age, and even today is only 4â€˜8â€œ. However, that didnâ€™t stop him being invited to various guest shows, where he proved very popular. He will always be remembered for his â€œWhatchoo talkinâ€™ about?â€œ catchphrase, and the funny face he pulled while he said it.
Others in the series included Mrs. Garrett, the new housekeeper who later left for her own spin-off series, The Facts of Life. She was replaced by Adelaide (the one with her hair in a bun), who was seen occasionally and she was later replaced by Pearl. In the seventh (and final) season, Drummond married an aerobics instructor, Maggie McKinney and she moved in with her son, Sam, from a previous marriage, increasing the family even more.