Dana Plato - Career in Television and Film

Career in Television and Film

Kay Plato began taking Dana to auditions when she was very young. By the age of seven, Plato began doing television commercials, reportedly appearing in over 100 spots for companies as diverse as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dole, and Atlantic Richfield. She claimed she was offered two highly sought-after movie roles: the part of possessed child Regan MacNeil in the 1973 film, The Exorcist, and the starring role in Louis Malle's 1978 film, Pretty Baby. According to Plato, her mother vetoed both jobs, either fearing Plato would be typecast, or subjected to unsavory subject matter. Exorcist author/screenwriter William Peter Blatty said in the book Former Child Stars: The Story of America's Least Wanted that he had "no such recollection" of Plato being offered the role.

Plato made her film debut in 1977 at the age of thirteen in Return to Boggy Creek. Other credits include California Suite, High School U.S.A. and Exorcist II: The Heretic.

Plato was a trained and accomplished figure skater. At one point she was training for a possible Olympic team spot. During this time she was spotted by a producer during a brief appearance on TV's The Gong Show. She won what would become her most famous acting role, that of Kimberly Drummond on Diff'rent Strokes. According to Plato, her mother decided she should cut back on her skating to focus on the role.

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