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Different Strokes actor Conrad Bain has passed

Different Strokes actor Conrad Bain has passed Stars of the television show "Different Strokes," clockwise from foreground, Gary Coleman, Conrad Bain and Todd Bridges. (AP)

Thu, January 17, 2013 - 11:11 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Conrad Bain,, a veteran stage and film actor who became a star in middle age as the kindly white adoptive father of two young African-American brothers in the TV sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," has died.

 Bain died Monday of natural causes in his hometown of Livermore, Calif., according to his daughter, Jennifer Bain . He was 89.

The show that made him famous debuted on NBC in 1978, an era when television comedies tackled relevant social issues. "Diff'rent Strokes" touched on serious themes but was known better as a family comedy that drew most of its laughs from its standout child actor, Gary Coleman.

Bain played wealthy Manhattan widower Philip Drummond, who promised his dying housekeeper he would raise her sons, played by Coleman and Todd Bridges. Race and class relations became topics on the show as much as the typical trials of growing up.

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