March 09, 1999 12:00 AM

Actress Dana Plato, who, like her fellow “Diff’rent Strokes” child co-stars, had seen legal troubles in the years since the show was canceled, has died of a drug overdose. Plato, 34, apparently took the painkiller Loritab along with Valium on Saturday while visiting the home of her fiance’s parents in Oklahoma. “The death appears to be an accidental overdose. We don’t suspect suicide,” police Sgt. Scott Singer said Sunday. Plato played Kimberly Drummond on the NBC sitcom from 1978 to 1984.

  • Plato was arrested in 1991 for robbing a Las Vegas video store and was placed on five years’ probation. In 1992 she was given an additional five years’ probation for forging prescriptions for Valium.

  • Plato’s recent career had included mainly low-budget films such as 1992’s “Bikini Beach Race” and the 1997 film “Different Strokes: A Story of Jack and Jill . . . and Jill,” a direct-to-video softcore tale about a sexual threesome.

  • Only last Friday, Plato told Howard Stern on his radio show that she had been drug-free for “over a decade.” As she told Stern on the air: “I have been sober for over a decade now. No joke.” As for anybody ever coming to drag her into rehab, she said (in the playful nature of the Stern program), “Oh, they can all bite me.”

  • One of her co-stars on “Diff’rent Strokes,” Todd Bridges, who played Willis, has been arrested several times. In 1990 he was acquitted of assault with a deadly weapon in the near-fatal shooting of a narcotics dealer in a Los Angeles drug den. He once testified in court that he had became depressed and had turned to drugs after “Diff’rent Strokes” was canceled.

  • Gary Coleman, who played the lovable Arnold on the show, pleaded no contest in February to disturbing the peace for punching an autograph-seeker in the eye. He was ordered to attend anger management classes, fined and given a suspended jail sentence.

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