DIRT-POOR DANA PLATO KILLED HER­SELF

Globe - - TALES FROM THE MORGUE -

BROKE and drug plagued, Diff’rent Strokes kid Dana Plato swore she was clean the day be­fore she died of a drug over­dose on May 8, 1999.

The 34-year-old for­mer child star, who was 13 when she be­gan her 1978 to 1984 run on the sit­com, boasted she was sober to shock jock Howard Stern.

The fol­low­ing day her man­ager-fi­ancé Robert Men­chaca, 28, found her “un­re­spon­sive and cold to the touch” at 9:40 p.m. in their run-down camper out­side Moore, Okla.

At first, au­thor­i­ties be­lieved she’d ac­ci­den­tally over­dosed on a cock­tail of Valium and the painkiller Lortab, but the tragic beauty was later ruled a sui­cide.

Her life and ca­reer plunged into a down­ward spi­ral af­ter she was forced to leave Diff’rent Strokes two years be­fore it ended be­cause she got knocked up.

Turn­ing to booze and drugs for com­fort, she posed nude for Play­boy and took parts in soft-core porn flicks — and was busted for rob­bing a video store and forg­ing a Valium pre­scrip­tion.

Hours be­fore her over­dose, she told Stern: “My life is so good now. I’ve never been hap­pier.”

The for­mer kid star was found dead in a camper

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