‘Killing Willis’: Diff’rent Strokes Actor Tells of Life Turnaround
Todd Bridges opens up about his turbulent life
September 30, 2010For most people Todd Bridges will be forever remembered as Willis Jackson, the older brother on the popular television show, “Diff’rent Strokes” – the sitcom about the wealthy White man who adopts two Black children featuring Gary Coleman. But Bridges is now the owner of a film production company after years of experiencing turmoil in his life.
Bridges was a child star and loved being on a hit show, but his success was marred by the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father and by a trusted agent’s exploitation of youthful innocence. After eight years, the show ended and Bridges turned to drugs to ease his pain. Bridges quickly turned from being a teen idol to a favorite hit for tabloid writers.
Now, for the first time, Todd Bridges opens up about his turbulent life in “Killing Willis: From Diff’rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted (Touchstone Hardcover/ Simon & Schuster; March 16, 2010; $26). The book chronicles the talented actor’s rise and fall, his inner demons and the strengths he called upon to overcome them.
In the book, Bridges describes his descent into addiction in harrowing detail, providing a graphic chronicle of his self-destructive path. His journey back to sobriety is an inspiriting story of how learning to have faith in himself and in God enabled him to overcome the obstacles that once threatened to destroy him. In 1992, he created the Todd Bridges Youth Foundation to help at-risk kids. He returned to acting in 1996 and two years later married actress Dori Smith. He is now the father of a son and daughter and with his brother Jimmy, runs an up-and-coming film production company.
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