Dana Plato’s Son Echoed Her Tragic Fate & Took His Own Life 2 Days before Her Death Anniversary
In a bid to drown out the pain of losing his mother, Tyler Lambert, son of Dana Plato, takes his own life two days before his mum's 11th death anniversary.
The 25-year-old Tyler was Plato's son with Lanny Lambert. After their divorce in 1990, Lambert took custody of their son, who later suffered from depression and shot himself in the head.
Tyler tried to get over losing his mum at such a young age, but he also became a victim of his mother's death. Plato was only 34 years old at the time of her passing.
Portrait of Dana Plato in the '80s | Photo: Getty Images
ABOUT DANA PLATO
Plato played the role of Kimberly Drummond on the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes." She was the "real" daughter of the kind Mr. Drummond where Arnold and Willy had only been adopted.
In reality, Plato was adopted, and after her adoptive parents divorced, she grew up mainly with her adoptive mother. She also started her career very early.
Portrait of Dana Plato in 1985 | Photo: Getty Images
She started at the age of seven with commercials and made her acting debut at ten. Having landed the role of Kimberly Drummond in "Diff'rent Strokes" in 1978, she quickly became a child star of the '80s.
In addition to being a budding actress, Plato was an experienced figure skater, almost worthy of a potential qualification for an Olympic team. However, even as a child star, she was said to be insecure.
Dana Plato attends Saturn Awards on October 20, 1994 in Hollywood | Photo: Getty Images
In 1983, she moved in with her rock guitarist boyfriend Lambert, the pair were married by April 24, 1984, and their son, Tyler, was born on July 2, 1984.
With her pregnancy, they eventually wrote her character out of the "Diff'rent Strokes" series. Her inglorious exit from the show put a brake on her career.
Gary Coleman poses for a portrait with co-stars Dana Plato and Todd Bridges while studying on the set of his show 'Diff'rent Strokes' in February 1980 in Los Angeles | Photo: Getty Images
Growing up, she struggled to establish herself and to land new roles. At one point, the young actress was even reduced to accepting anything and everything.
Life went on a downward spiral with Plato appearing on the cover of Playboy in 1989 and then some B-Rated movies. Her finances were at their worst.
Dana Plato holds her 'Youth in Film' award in the early 1980s | Photo: Getty Images
Plato began to divorce her husband in 1988, the same week her mother died of scleroderma — a group of autoimmune diseases. That same year, she was defrauded by her accountant, who was never prosecuted.
In 1990, things became worse as her divorce was finalized, and she lost custody of her son, Tyler. Plato survived as best she could between extreme poverty and occasional odd jobs in Las Vegas.
Dana Plato at the Video Software Dealers Association Convention on July 24, 1994 in Las Vegas | Photo: Getty Images
In 1991, Plato was arrested after robbing a video rental store for a miserable loot of one hundred and sixty-four dollars. She was released on bail and given five years probation.
She was arrested again in 1992 for forging a diazepam prescription. This violated her probation terms, and she was sent to jail for thirty days while entering a drug rehabilitation program.
Dana Plato at the Sixth Annual People's Choice Awards on January 24, 1980 in Hollywood | Photo: Getty Images
She started living in a mobile home with her manager and fiancée, Robert Menchaca. They took a trip to visit his mother for Mother's Day in Moore, Oklahoma.
On May 7, 1999, she spoke with optimism about her new life in a radio interview on "The Howard Stern Show." She claimed she had been sober for over ten years and had not used drugs, except for painkillers.
Dana Plato on the set of "Letting Go" | Photo: Getty Images
While there, she complained of tiredness and the need to rest. After taking a few doses of painkillers and muscle relaxants, she lay down to rest.
The next day, she was found dead by her fiancée. His family assumed she had died in her sleep, and her death was initially ruled as an accidental overdose.
Dana Plato at the Hollywood Collectors Show | Photo: Getty Images
Doctors later concluded it was suicide since they found a high dose of muscle relaxant and painkillers in her body. Her body was cremated, and ashes dispersed into the Pacific Ocean.
In 2000, a documentary based on Plato titled "After Diff'rent Strokes: When the Laughter Stopped" aired on Fox. The documentary focused on what happened to her after the show, including her death.
Dana Plato and Quinn Cummings on the set of "Letting Go" | Photo: Getty Images
THE LOSS OF TYLER
Having lost his mum during the custody battle, losing her for good took a toll on Tyler. He was only 14 years old when she committed suicide.
At 15, he started to go down the path his mother did as he had issues with drugs, alcohol, was acting out, and even had rehab stints.
To get closer to his mother, he tattooed her name on his arm right across his fingers. To the tattoo ink, he added her ashes. This was the only way he felt he could have a part of her with him.
Dana Plato and Kirk Cameron on set | Photo: Getty Images
In 2006, he sued her fiancé in a wrongful death lawsuit. He made the complaint in Clark County, Nevada, three days before the seventh anniversary of her death.
The suit, which sought over twenty thousand dollars worth of damages, claimed that her fiancé could have prevented Plato's death by giving immediate medical assistance or contacting medical personnel or emergency personnel.
Dana Plato on set of "Diff'rent Strokes" | Photo: Getty Images
Tyler also went into show business working behind the camera and was an aspiring rapper and singer. Days leading up to his death found him wanting to be closer to his mum.
According to a family friend, Tyler became withdrawn and would not talk to anyone for days. After Plato's passing, Mother's Day became a very difficult day for Tyler because it coincided with her death.
Dana Plato in a scene from "Diff'rent Strokes" | Photo: Getty Images
Plato's former manager and family friend, Johnny Whitaker, tried to intervene in Tyler's life and drug use to no avail. He only admitted to using marijuana.
Visibly in turmoil, Tyler shot himself in the head two days before his mother's 11th death anniversary. After his death, his grandmother revealed that he struggled with his mother's death, and their lives had been wrapped around him.
Dana Plato and actors Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges at the 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on January 27, 1980 | Photo: Getty Images
It was a devastating blow for the family. Tyler was cremated just like his mother, and there was no memorial for him. His grandmother also found a note among his belongings.
In the note, Tyler revealed that the only moments he was happy were when he was high and didn't have to think about the past or when he was drunk and unable to think about the past.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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