Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$1 Thousand
Nov 7, 1964 - May 8, 1999 (34 years old)
5 ft 1 in (1.57 m)
United States of America
💰 Compare Dana Plato's Net Worth

What Was Dana Plato's Net Worth?

Dana Plato was an American actress who had a net worth of $1,000 at the time of her death in 1999. Plato was best known for starring as Kimberly Drummond on the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" (1978–1986). Dana had more than 30 acting credits to her name, including the films "Return to Boggy Creek" (1977), "California Suite" (1978), and "Prime Suspect" (1989) and the television series "Hello, Larry" (1979), and "CHiPs" (1979–1980). Sadly, Plato died of a prescription drug overdose in May 1999 at the age of 34.

Early Life

Dana Plato was born Dana Michelle Strain on November 7, 1964, in Maywood, California. Her mother was teenager Linda Strain, who was already caring for a toddler. When Dana was 7 months old, she was adopted by Florine (better known as "Kay") and Dean Plato. Dean was the owner of a trucking company, and the family lived in the San Fernando Valley. Kay and Dean divorced when Plato was 3 years old, and she lived with Kay, who began taking her to auditions at a young age. By the age of 7, Dana had appeared in more than 100 TV commercials. She was a talented figure skater as well, and she trained for a possible spot on the Olympic team. Plato began struggling with drug and alcohol addiction while starring on "Diff'rent Strokes, and she overdosed on diazepam at the age of 14; she also used cocaine and cannabis. During a 1995 appearance on "The Marilyn Kagen Show," Dana spoke about her childhood, stating, "My mother made sure that I was normal. The only thing that she did, the mistake she made, was that she kept me in a plastic bubble. So, I didn't learn about reality and life skills."


When Plato was 10 years old, she guest-starred in a 1975 episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man," then she appeared in the TV movie "Beyond the Bermuda Triangle" (1975) and had an uncredited role in "Exorcist II: The Heretic" (1977). She starred as Evie Joe in the 1977 horror movie "Return to Boggy Creek," and she played the daughter of Alan Alda and Jane Fonda in Neil Simon's "California Suite" (1978), which earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Dana guest-starred on "Family" (1976) and "What Really Happened to the Class of '65?" (1978), and a 1978 appearance on "The Gong Show" led to a producer helping her get cast as Kimberly Drummond on the NBC sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes." The series aired 189 episodes over eight seasons, and Plato appeared in more than 140 episodes and earned two Young Artist Award nominations for her performance. "Diff'rent Strokes" also starred Conrad Bain, Gary Coleman, and Todd Bridges, and it moved to ABC for its final season. In 1979, Dana reprised the role of Kimberly in three episodes of "Hello, Larry" and an episode of "The Facts of Life, and she played herself in an episode of "CHiPs." The following year, she appeared on "CHiPs" as a character named Darla Richardson.


Plato starred in the TV movies "A Step in Time" (1981) and "High School U.S.A." (1983), then she guest-starred on "The Love Boat" (1984) and "Growing Pains" (1985). In 1989, she posed for "Playboy" magazine's June issue and appeared in the film "Prime Suspect." In 1992, she starred in the B-movies "Bikini Beach Race" and "The Sounds of Silence" and had the lead role in the Sega video game "Night Trap." Dana then appeared in the films "Compelling Evidence" (1995), "Lethal Cowboy" (1995), "Millennium Day" (1995), "Tiger" (1997), "Blade Boxer" (1997), "Desperation Boulevard" (1998), and "Silent Scream" (1999), and she starred in the erotic drama "Different Strokes: The Story of Jack and Jill…and Jill." Plato's final role was in the drama "Pacino Is Missing," which was released three years after her death.

Personal Life

Dana married rock guitarist Lanny Lambert on April 24, 1984, and they welcomed son Tyler on July 2nd of that year. Plato was written out of "Diff'rent Strokes" because of her pregnancy, and her co-star Conrad Bain told "People" magazine, "She deliberately got pregnant while doing the series, when I spoke to her about it, she was enthusiastic about having done that… [saying that] 'When I get the baby, I will never be alone again.'" Dana and Lanny separated in early 1988 around the time her mother passed away from scleroderma. Plato signed power of attorney over to an accountant who, unfortunately, ran off with most of her money and left her with less than $150,000 to her name. Dana said that the accountant stole more than $11 million from other clients and was never caught or prosecuted. When Plato's divorce was finalized in March 1990, she lost custody of Tyler, and she was later engaged to filmmaker Fred Potts and briefly married to actor/producer Scott Atkins. At the time of her death, Dana lived in a Winnebago in Navarre, Florida, with her manager/fiancé Robert Menchaca.

In February 1991, Plato robbed a video store with a pellet gun, and when the clerk called 9-1-1, he stated, "I've just been robbed by the girl who played Kimberly on Diff'rent Strokes." Dana returned to the store around 15 minutes later and was arrested. Her bail was set at $13,000, and it was paid by entertainer Wayne Newton. Plato was sentenced to five years' probation, and less than a year later, she was arrested for forging a prescription for the psychoactive drug diazepam (also known as Valium). Since she violated her probation, Dana served 30 days in jail, then she went to rehab. She moved to Las Vegas, where she dealt with unemployment and poverty, and she worked at a dry-cleaning business. The day before her death, Plato spoke about her life on "The Howard Stern Show" and said that she had been sober for more than a decade and was only using prescription painkillers at that point due to the removal of her wisdom teeth. After several callers said that Dana sounded stoned, she offered to submit some of her hair for drug-testing. Stern later said that after the interview, Plato asked for the hair back, and that he then "knew she must have been on drugs."


On May 8, 1999, Dana and Robert Menchaca visited Menchaca's mother in Moore, Oklahoma, on the way to California. During the visit, Plato complained of feeling unwell and took several doses of the painkiller Lortab and the muscle-relaxant Soma before going to rest in her Winnebago with Menchaca. When Robert woke up, he discovered that Dana had passed away in her sleep at the age of 34. Her death was eventually ruled a suicide "because of the high level of drugs and her history of suicidal tendencies." Plato was cremated, and her ashes were spread over the Pacific Ocean. In 2000, Fox aired a TV movie about Dana called "After Diff'rent Strokes: When the Laughter Stopped," and NBC broadcast "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Diff'rent Strokes" in 2006. Plato's son, Tyler, never truly came to terms with his mother's death, and he died by suicide on May 6, 2010, at the age of 25. Tyler's paternal grandmother, Joni Richardson, said of him, "He had his mother's name on his hand, on his arm, and right across his finger. He was putting her ashes in with the ink." After Tyler's death, Richardson found a note in his bedroom that read "The only moments of happiness for me are when I'm real high and don't think about the past or I'm real drunk and not able to."

Award Nominations

Plato was nominated for three Young Artist Awards: Best Young Actress in a Television Series for "Diff'rent Strokes" in 1981, Best Young Actress in a Television Special for "A Step in Time" in 1982, and Best Young Actress in a Comedy Series for "Diff'rent Strokes" in 1984. After Dana's death, the "Diff'rent Strokes" cast earned TV Land Award nominations for Quintessential Non-Traditional Family in 2003 and 2004.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction