Tragic news for classic TV fans in Fresno today as actor Conrad Bain has passed away on January 14, 2013 of natural causes. He was 89 years old.
Bain is best remembered for his role as rich white Park Avenue businessman Phillip Drummond on the 1970s and 1980s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes. The series followed Drummond as he adopted two young African American boys from Harlem Willis (played by Todd Bridges) and Arnold (played by the late Gary Coleman). The show was a hit that lasted for eight seasons and also led to a spin-off series The Facts of Life.
Bain was also known for the 1970s sitcom Maude, where he played the conservative nemesis to the title character as played by Bea Arthur.
Bain's career began as a stage actor after a stint at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and in the 1956 Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh. He also performed in other Broadway shows such as Candide, An Enemy of the People, Uncle Vanya, and On Borrowed Time. He also appeared Off Broadway in the original run of Steambath.
It was while doing stage work in New York City that Bain first found work on television appearing in the first two seasons of soap opera Dark Shadows as the town inkeeper, Mr. Wells, until his character was killed off by werewolf Chris Jennings (Don Briscoe).
In the early 1960s, Bain was one of the principal organizers of the Actors Federal Credit Union, serving as their first president.
In the early 1970s, Bain made appearances in New York-based films such as Lovers and Other Strangers and Woody Allen's Bananas before he achieved national recognition for his television roles. In 1979, he reprized his role of Phillip Drummond in The Facts of Life and again in 1996, on the series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. His final acting appearance was in 2011 when he played a priest on the TV series Unforgettable.
Bain died of natural causes Monday night in Livermore, California. As reported by FOX News, his daughter Jennifer told TMZ: "He was an amazing person. He was a lot like Mr. Drummond, but much more interesting in real life. He was an amazing father."
As reported by FOX News, Todd Bridges told FOX41 is a statement, "I am deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Conrad as we were looking forward to celebrating his 90th birthday next month. In addition to being a positive and supportive father figure both on and off-screen, Conrad was well-loved and made going to work each day enjoyable for all of us. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
Bain is survived by three children: Jennifer, Kent and Mark. He will be dearly missed by all of his family, friends and fans.