Cast of 'Diff'rent Strokes'

*If only real life for the child stars of “Diff’rent Strokes” was anything like the fictional Park Avenue life of luxury they inhabited on television.

The death of pint-sized star Gary Coleman on Friday at age 42 underscored the troubled lives of the sitcom’s stars after the television lights went out in 1986 after eight seasons. Some have even talked about the “curse of `Diff’rent Strokes.'”

Two of the young stars, Coleman and Dana Plato, are dead. The third, Todd Bridges, went through years of drug abuse and was tried and acquitted of murder in 1988. The actor who played their dad, Conrad Bain, is alive at 87, out of show business and living quietly in the Los Angeles area.

The fate of the “Diff’rent Strokes” cast is a concentrated example of the difficulties faced by many young people chewed up by the entertainment industry, forced to mature while living a life of fame and luxury. For every Jodie Foster who navigated the transition to adulthood with aplomb, there’s a Lindsay Lohan or a Britney Spears still struggling.

Later in life, Coleman talked bitterly of his early Hollywood experience.

“I would not give my first 15 years to my worst enemy, and I don’t even have a worst enemy,” Coleman told The Associated Press in a 2001 interview.

Get MORE of this AP story HERE.