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With a successful TV show and a big personality, it's no wonder the now 50-year-old star is one of the most recognizable faces in the country. Our culture has a tendency to idolize celebrities, but with a troubled past, there's a lot of controversy around the bigger stars. We approached Mr. Bridges to ask a few questions and learn more about his crazy life and its impact on his work.
Todd Anthony Bridges (born May 27, 1965) is an American actor. He portrayed Willis Jackson on the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and had a recurring role as Monk on the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. Bridges worked as a commentator on the television series TruTV Presents: World's Dumbest... from 2008 to 2013. Bridges is the last surviving original actor of Diff'rent Strokes.
Bridges' son, Spencir Bridges (born July 15, 1998), with his now ex-wife Dori Bridges (née Smith), is also a former child actor who appeared in the film Daddy Day Camp and an episode of iCarly. Bridges also has a daughter from a previous relationship. (Source: en.wikipedia.org Roberts, Soraya. "'Diff'rent Strokes' actor Todd Bridges discusses kicking drugs, wearing diapers and Corey Haim". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 18, 2020. (Source:en.wikipedia.org))
Like his best known character Willis Jackson, Todd Bridges experienced a real-life reversal of fortune. But instead of the classic rags-to-riches tale, Bridges' off-screen story took a sad turn, fueled by a drug addiction, abuse and the typical trappings of too-soon childhood stardom. Beginning in the late 1970s, the talented actor became a teen idol as Gary Coleman's older and street-smart brother on the hit comedy, "Diff'rent Strokes" (NBC, 1978-1986), even inspiring one of the medium's most iconic catchphrases: "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout Willis?" Lauded for its witty dialogue and stellar performances, the groundbreaking series became one of the first shows to shed light on controversial subjects such as poverty, child molestation and drug use. During his stint on "Strokes," Bridges became a highly sought after TV celebrity, appearing on popular programs like "The Facts of Life" (CBS, 1979-1988) and "The Love Boat" (ABC, 1977-1986). "Diff'rent Strokes" enjoyed high ratings during its eight-year run but when it ended, so too did Bridges career. Unable to reinvent himself as an adult actor, he quickly turned to a life of crime and drug addiction. Bridges' substance abuse consumed him; he had several run-ins with the law and faced criminal charges that almost earned him a life sentence for fatally shooting a drug dealer. It took nearly a decade for Bridges to get sober and start rebuilding his life. After watching many of his child star contemporaries lose their way and, at times, their lives, Bridges' struggle became an inspiration and a testament to surviving in a brutal business. (Source: www.rottentomatoes.com)
But the actor had his biggest breakthrough in the 1978 series "Diff'rent Strokes" and he is now the only surviving star from that show. He has been keeping a low profile since the show ended 35 years ago. (Source: news.amomama.com)
The former child actor's desire to live in the moment has something to do with the fact that he is the only actor still alive among the stars of "Diff'rent Strokes." (Source: news.amomama.com Besides racism, he also faced sexual abuse and became a troubled actor. In his 20s, he struggled with drug addiction and got jailed in 1989 for his murder attempt on a Los Angeles drug dealer. (Source:news.amomama.com))
From a tumultuous past, the actor has started a new life. He is currently enjoying his work behind the camera as a producer. "Producing is a lot more fun than acting," he happily wrote on Instagram. (Source: news.amomama.com At its peak, NBC’s long-running sitcom Diff’rent Strokes was one of the most popular TV shows on cable. It made global stars out of several of its actors, many of whom started on the series as children. (Source:www.cheatsheet.com))
It also launched numerous spin-offs and crossovers, including the series The Facts of Life and character crossovers in shows like The A-Team and Hello, Larry. Yet not everything was as perfect as it seemed on camera. After the show ended, actor Todd Bridges and many of his co-stars went through numerous legal and personal difficulties, and one prominent cast member even took her own life. (Source: www.cheatsheet.com)
Actor Todd Bridges has seen and done it all. Todd has lived and worked amongst some of the most famous and influential individuals in the world. For over twenty-five years, he has victoriously survived a rapidly changing business. He experienced his second rise to fame, as "Juice" on The Young and the Restless (1973). Todd's career began and rocketed when he was only six years of age, forcing his family to relocate from a quiet, friendly neighborhood in San Francisco to the fast-paced stardom of Los Angeles, California in the early 70s. His mother, actress Betty A. Bridges, and father, the late James Bridges, Sr., came to Hollywood in search of the American dream. Betty went on to work quite a bit as an actress while James Sr. became one of the first prominent black Hollywood agents. Betty later became one of Hollywood's greatest managers and acting coaches, whose list of clients (soon to become stars) included her oldest child, Jimmy Bridges, her daughter Verda Bridges, Todd (of course), Nia Long (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), Love Jones (1997)), Regina King (Jerry Maguire (1996)), Lamont Bentley (Moesha (1996)), and Aaron Meeks (Soul Food (2000)). It all began one day while watching Redd Foxx display his comic genius on Sanford and Son (1972). Todd, then six, realized his dream of becoming an actor. He exclaimed excitedly to his mother, "I want to do that", pointing to the television set. He had asked on his own to enter a business which, during that time, was very limited for black artists. Nevertheless, Todd went on to make some remarkable strides in the industry, pioneering the way for other young, black actors. His first job was a Jell-O commercial, which starred the entire Bridges family. He later accomplished over 60 national commercials. Todd was the first black child actor to become a recurring regular on the hit series, The Waltons (1972), and Little House on the Prairie (1974) with the late great Michael Landon. He went on to guest star on Barney Miller (1975), which eventually gained a spin-off show, starring Abe Vigoda. The spin-off was titled Fish (1977) and Todd became a series regular for four years. Norman Lear, who spearheaded the success of Tandem Productions, with such shows under his belt as The Jeffersons (1975), Good Times (1974), All in the Family (1971) and The Facts of Life (1979), sought to create a new type of show that would cross the racial boundaries set in Hollywood in the early years of television. He began with the new kid in town, Gary Coleman, and a TV veteran, Conrad Bain, from the hit show, Maude (1972). The wheels were spinning and Diff'rent Strokes (1978) was born. The show originated with a wealthy white businessman who adopted his housekeeper's black child after she passed away. There was only one problem. Who would the creators find to match wits with the sassy Gary Coleman? Conrad Bain then suggested the creation of an older brother character to keep up with "Arnold's" wisecracks, a strong young actor capable of bouncing the ball back in his court. No one portrayed such qualities as Todd Bridges. Diff'rent Strokes (1978) was introduced to American audience in the fall of 1978. With the new concept of a racially-mixed cast, the producers and creators were unsure how the viewers would react. To their surprise, the show was a complete success and ran strong for eight years. Todd Bridges became an international celebrity and household name by the age of 15. During his success with "Diff'rent Strokes", Todd guest starred on such shows as The Love Boat (1977), The Facts of Life (1979), Hello, Larry (1979), Battle of the Network Stars VI (1979), Circus of the Stars #6 (1981), and many, many more. An even bigger opportunity came when he was chosen to portray the role of Chicken George's grandson in the historical television miniseries, Roots (1977), where his performance is still applauded to this day. After "Diff'rent Strokes" ended its long run in 1986, things became difficult for Todd. All of a sudden, no one would hire him due to his being typecast as "Willis Drummond". He began to experience turbulent times, which would later lead to drug addiction and trouble with the authorities. There would be a pause in his career and his life for nearly ten years. Todd Bridges has been clean and sober for twenty-six years. He is a working actor, director, and producer and is well on his way to the rebirth of a promising television and motion picture career. Together, Todd and his brother, James Jr., have partnered to establish their own production company, "Little Bridge Productions". His recent film credits (as an actor) include _1210 Camille Street_ with Faizon Love (Friday (1995), The Replacements (2000)), Frat (), _Hollywood Horror (2000)_ with Tia Mowry-Hardrict and 'Tamara Mowry' (_"Sister Sister" (1994)_) and A Testimony. He also recently completed a feature film in Utah called The Climb (2002) for Billy Graham's production company. He directed, produced and starred in the short film about his life, Building Bridges (2000), for TBN. He also directed, along with his brother, a full-length feature film titled Black Ball (2003) (aka Full Circle), starring Lisa Sweat (wife of R&B singer Keith Sweat), Stoney Jackson, De'aundre Bonds, his wife Dori Bridges, and a host of other great names. His directorial credits also include the feature film, Flossin (2001), the life story of his pastor and childhood friend, Pastor Ernest Johnson. On a more personal note, Todd is a proud husband and father. He has been married, since 1998, to his wife, Dori Bridges, and they have one son, Spencir Bridges. Todd has traveled the nation speaking to over 6,000 kids per day in high schools, middle schools, and churches warning about the dangers of drug use, negative peer pressure, and proclaiming Christ Jesus! (Source: www.amazon.com)
Actor Todd Bridges has seen and done it all. Todd has lived and worked amongst some of the most famous and influential individuals in the world. For over twenty-five years, he has victoriously survived a rapidly changing business. He experienced his second rise to fame, as "Juice" on The Young and the Restless (1973). Todd's career began and rocketed when he was only six years of age, forcing his family to relocate from a quiet, friendly neighborhood in San Francisco to the fast-paced stardom of Los Angeles, California in the early 70s. His mother, actress Betty A. Bridges, and father, the late James Bridges, Sr., came to Hollywood in search of the American dream. Betty went on to work quite a bit as an actress while James Sr. became one of the first prominent black Hollywood agents. Betty later became one of Hollywood's greatest managers and acting coaches, whose list of clients (soon to become stars) included her oldest child, Jimmy Bridges, her daughter Verda Bridges, Todd (of course), Nia Long (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), Love Jones (1997)), Regina King (Jerry Maguire (1996)), Lamont Bentley (Moesha (1996)), and Aaron Meeks (Soul Food (2000)). (Source: www.amazon.com)
Todd Anthony Bridges is an American actor and comedian, best known for his role as Willis Jackson in the hit TV sitcom ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ that he portrayed for eight years. He entered the entertainment industry when he was just a four-year-old, appearing as a model for a magazine ad. When he was nine, he made his acting debut in a commercial with his family. The brief role led to more acting assignments, including his appearance on the TV show ‘Barney Miller’ and a role in the movie ‘Katherine’. However, like many other child actors, he too ran into trouble with the law as a youngster. He became involved with drugs and firearms as a young man which affected his career as well. Although rehab helped him kick his substance abuse problems, it didn't help him control his violent tendencies. However, life changed for him when he turned to Christianity, and founded the Todd Bridges Youth Foundation, a non-profit youth body in Los Angeles that provides sports, computer training, and acting courses for children. Soon he saw resurgence in his acting career. He then wrote a book called ‘Killing Willis’, and appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss his acting career, drug addiction, and trouble with law. (Source: www.thefamouspeople.com)
Despite enjoying considerable fame, his professional life soon spiraled downward due to his drug addiction and brushes with the law. By 1986, he had become so deeply embroiled in legal troubles that it was becoming hard for him to get meaningful work. Moreover, lack of substantial roles for ‘Black’ actors further made his career difficult. Depressed by the situation, he delved deeper into drugs and crime. (Source: www.thefamouspeople.com)
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