Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Conrad Bain Passes On

Conrad Bain, who played Maude's antagonist Dr. Arthur Harmon on Maude and Mr. Drummond on Diff'rent Strokes, died 14 January 2013 at the age of 89.

Conrad Bain was born 4 February 1923 in  Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He studied at the Banff School of Fine Arts. During World War II he served in the Canadian Army where he attained the rank of sergeant. Following the war he moved to New York City where he attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He made his television debut in 1952 in an episode of Studio One. He made his debut on Broadway in 1956 in Sixth Finger in a Five Finger Glove. In the late Fifties he appeared in further productions on Broadway, such as Candide, a revival of Makropoulos Secret, and The Family Reunion.

In the Sixties Mr. Bain appeared on such shows as The Defenders, The Trials of O'Brien, N.Y.P.D., and Dark Shadows. He appeared in the films Madigan (1968), A Lovely Way to Die (1968), Star! (1968), Coogan's Bluff (1968), Last Summer (1969), Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), and I Never Sang for My Father (1970). On Broadway he appeared in Advise and Consent, Hot Spot, and The Cuban Thing.

In the Seventies Conrad Bain appeared on two hit TV shows. He was a regular on Maude, playing Dr. Arthur Harmon, Maude's next door neighbour with opposing views to her own. He was the star of Diff'rent Strokes. He also appeared on such shows as The Waverly Wonders, Grandpa Goes to Washington; The Facts of Life; Love Boat, and Hello, Larry. He appeared in the films Jump (1971), A New Leaf (1971), Bananas (1971), The Anderson Tapes (1971), Who Killed Mary Whats'ername? (1971), A Fan's Notes (1972),  Up the Sandbox (1972), A Pleasure Doing Business (1979), and C.H.O.M.P.S (1979). He appeared on Broadway in An Enemy of the People, Twigs, and Uncle Vanya.

In the Eighties Conrad Bain was a regular on the TV series Mr. President. He appeared in the film Post Cards From the Edge. In the Nineties he guest starred on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and appeared on Broadway in On Borrowed Time. He made his last appearance on screen in an episode of Unforgettable in 2011.

I was never a fan of the show Diff'rent Strokes, but I must admit that Conrad Bain did a good job of playing Mr. Drummond on the show. There was a sincerity about his performance on the show, as there was in nearly all of his performances. Indeed, it must be noted that Mr. Bain's two most famous roles, Arthur Harmon on Maude and Mr. Drummond on Diff'rent Strokes could not have been more different, yet he was convincing in both. His role on Maude was perhaps a difficult one to play, as he played Maude's opponent in numerous debates over various issues, which meant he had to match the impressive Bea Arthur note for note--not an easy task for any actor. Throughout his career Conrad Bain gave a number of impressive performances, from Chief of Staff Charlie Ross on Mr. President to the Madison Avenue Man in Coogan's Bluff.

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