Of course, everyone knew him best as the patriarch of daughter Kimberley and adopted sons Willis and Arnold on the wildly popular “Diff’rent Strokes.” But we of a certain age first came to know Conrad Bain as uber-liberal Maude’s uber-conservative neighbor, friendly nemesis and husband of best friend Vivian, Dr. Arthur Harmon. “Maude” was a groundbreaking TV series for its time. Her character had TVs first abortion, her husband Walter battled alcoholism, suicide, etc.
But as a very young gay boy, the most epiphanous episode came later, in season 6. Simply titled, “The Gay Bar,” Arthur and his friends were set to protest the opening of a gay bar in their neighborhood. Of course, open-minded Maude is against his protest and convinces Arthur to accompany her and Walter to visit the place.
(Funniest line: when the bartender asks Walter what he wants to drink, the alcoholic Walter says, “I don’t drink – I’ll have an orange juice” to the dismay of the rest of the patrons. At the time of this episode, hate-monger homophobe Anita Bryant was the spokesperson for Florida orange juice.)
Bain died Monday January 14th of natural causes, says his daughter.
Rest In Peace, Conrad.