Dana Michelle Plato was born in Maywood, California, on Saturday 7 November 1964. Her first excursion into the film world occurred when she was eleven in the television film Beyond the Bermuda Triangle (1975). Dana never really made an impact on the TV screen until she landed the role of Kimberly Drummond in the TV hit sitcom Diff’rent Strokes (1978) from 1978-1986. After the series ended, Dana had a hard time trying to find other acting work. Sometimes she would act in a made-for-TV movie or a low-budget film for the silver screen. Times were rough. Her marriage to Lanny Lambert lasted seven years, but produced a son. She was arrested in 1991 for robbing a video store in Las Vegas but was placed on probation. The following year, Dana was arrested again for forging a prescription for Valium. Things were at a low ebb. She had just finished an interview with Howard Stern, in the spring of 1999, when she and her fiancé, Robert Menchaca, were headed back to California. The interview was one in which Dana hoped to revive her stalled career. They stopped at his parents’ house in Moore, Oklahoma, for a weekend Mother’s Day visit before continuing on to California. On Saturday, May 8, 1999, Dana died of what appeared to be an accidental overdose of a painkiller called “Loritab”. Later, on May 21, a coroner’s inquest ruled her death a suicide due to a large amount of drugs in her body and her history of past suicide attempts. She was 34 years old.
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