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Todd Bridges' Troubled Life and Battle with Addiction after 'Diff'rent Strokes'

Edduin Carvajal
Aug 13, 2020
07:15 A.M.
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Actor Todd Bridges, best known as Willis Jackson in "Diff'rent Strokes," struggled with drug addiction for years as it was his way to cope with his difficult childhood.


Born in May 1965, Todd Bridges has been involved in the entertainment industry since he was just a kid. His first acting gig came in 1975 when he took a minor role on the TV show "Barney Miller."

[Bridges] found drugs thanks to Dana Plato, who introduced him to marijuana.

Todd Bridges on September 30, 2018 in Glendale, California | Photo: Getty Images

Todd Bridges on September 30, 2018 in Glendale, California | Photo: Getty Images



After that, he kept landing acting gigs in shows like "Police Story," "Little House on the Prairie," and "Fish." Bridges' career skyrocketed in 1978, though, when he started working next to Gary Coleman, Conrad Bain, and Dana Plato in "Diff'rent Strokes."

The show was highly successful, running for almost a decade and making Bridges, Coleman, and Plato instant stars. Unfortunately, the future of those three stars was quite negative, to say the least.

Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, and Dana Plato in "Diff'rent Strokes" | Photo: Getty Images

Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, and Dana Plato in "Diff'rent Strokes" | Photo: Getty Images


Coleman, who also worked in "Good Times" and "The Jeffersons," was involved in several legal and financial problems throughout his life. On May 28, 2010, only one day after being admitted to a hospital in Utah with a brain hemorrhage, he passed away.

Plato, on the other hand, struggled with drug and alcohol problems for years. In 1984, due to her pregnancy, she was fired from "Diff'rent Strokes." On May 8, 1999, she passed away due to an accidental overdose.



Out of the three stars of "Diff'rent Strokes," Todd Bridges is the only one alive today, but he also went through several difficulties. When the show ended, he felt like his life was over, and his fall from stardom began when he made headlines for being arrested and doing drugs.

Bridges was so out of control that, in 1989, he was accused of attempted murder for shooting a drug dealer several times after a cocaine binge. Eventually, after spending only nine months behind bars, he was acquitted.


In 2013, Bridges was in an interview with Katie Couric to discuss some of his drug issues and how he managed to get sober.

He revealed that the negative ordeal began when he was about 20 years old and that it was his way to "cover" the pain and suffering of what he saw in his family growing up.



The actor confessed that one of his earliest recollections of his father was him hitting his mother and "knocking her under a table." He was only five years old when that happened.

To make matters worse, he was molested by his former publicist. When he told his parents about it, his dad took the side of the molester, something that "destroyed" Bridges because his father was supposed to protect him, but he didn't.


Eventually, he found drugs thanks to Dana Plato, who introduced him to marijuana, and from that point on, he started doing everything from pot to cocaine, crack cocaine, and meth.

It is important to point out that Todd Bridges doesn't blame Plato for introducing him to it because, as he said in the interview, he has to "accept responsibility" for his actions.



Bridges revealed more details of his dark past in his 2010 memoir "Killing Willis." In it, he explained that, in December 1992, he was pulled over after buying drugs.

At that moment, he considered acting in a threatening way to provoke the police officer to respond lethally. That practice is also known as suicide by cop.


On February 23, 1993, after years struggling with his drug addiction and legal issues, he went to rehab. He was so angry that they strapped him and even put a diaper on him. At that point, he genuinely realized that he needed to change. Fortunately, he did change, and, at the time of the interview, he was 20 years sober.

Now, Todd Bridges is the proud father of two and has a prolific career in the entertainment industry. He is expected to appear in several projects, including the TV show "Roommates" and the films "A Wrestling Christmas Miracle and "Bar Chronicles."

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