Todd Anthony Bridges is an American actor and comedian best known for his eight-year portrayal of Willis Jackson on the hit television sitcom ‘Different Strokes’ He joined the entertainment world as a model for a magazine advertisement when he was just four years old. With his family, he made his acting debut in a commercial when he was nine years old. The small job led to other acting assignments, including a role in the film Katherine and an appearance on the television sitcom Barney Miller. However, like many other child actors, he encountered legal issues as a youth. As a youth, he became engaged with drugs and weaponry, which also hampered his career. Although rehabilitation helped him overcome his substance misuse issues, it had little effect on his violent impulses. However, his life changed when he converted to Christianity and started the Todd Bridges Youth Foundation, a Los Angeles-based organization that offers sports, computer training, and acting classes to youngsters. Soon, he saw a revival in his acting career. He subsequently published a book titled “Killing Willis” and went on The Oprah Winfrey Show to explain his acting career, drug addiction, and legal troubles.
Youth and Early Life
Todd Bridges was born in San Francisco, California, on May 27, 1965, to Betty Alice Pryor and James Bridges Sr. Father is a talent agent, while their mother is an actress, director, and manager. His siblings Jimmy and Verda also work in the performing industry.
At the age of four, he received his first modeling gig for a magazine advertisement. His family appeared in a Jell-O ad when he was nine years old. The performance led to more acting roles for him.
His parents’ divorce in 1982 deeply affected him. In 1983, to make matters worse, white nationalists terrorized his neighborhood. His automobile was taken and set on fire, and he was targeted by sniper fire.
In response to the assault, he began carrying a gun. The cops stopped him for a traffic violation and charged him with carrying a loaded, concealed handgun. He had to pay a $240 punishment for the infraction.
Todd Bridges’s Career
“The Waltons” is an American television series created by Earl Hamner, Jr. and based on his novel “Spencer’s Mountain.” He also appeared in the drama television series Little House on the Prairie,’ about a family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota during the 1870s and 1880s. It was based on the best-selling series of ‘Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
He was cast in “Roots,” an American television miniseries based on the 1976 novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family” by Alex Haley. In January of 1977, the series debuted on ABC-TV.
It was broadcast on ABC from February 1977 until May 1978. Todd portrayed Loomis, a streetwise joker.
His performance in ‘Fish’ drew the attention of ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ producer Norman Lear, who put 12-year-old Todd in the lead role. It proved to be the turning point in his life and career. He portrayed an orphan who was adopted by a prosperous white businessman. Then, Todd became an icon and household name. At the age of 18, he was sufficiently rich to acquire a home in Los Angeles.
In the 1980s, he also appeared in several music videos. In 1984, he appeared on the track “Change Your Wicked Ways” by Penny Ford.
His drug addiction and run-ins with the authorities precipitated a rapid decline in his work life, despite his tremendous fame.
By 1986, he was so entangled in legal issues that it was difficult for him to find meaningful employment. In addition, the dearth of prominent jobs for “Black” performers hampered his career. Depressed by his circumstances, he engaged in more drug use and criminal activity.
In the 1990s, he sought professional assistance for his drug addiction. After rehabilitation, his acting career flourished, and he appeared on many reality shows. In 2002, he defeated Vanilla Ice on an edition of “Celebrity Boxing.” In the same year, he appeared in Moby’s ‘We Are All Made of Stars’ music video.
In 2006, he competed as a participant in an episode of “Fear Factor” including celebrities but was eliminated after his first stunt. In the same year, he competed on the Fox reality show “Skating with Celebrities” as a contestant. In the second episode of the show, he was removed for using roller skates instead of ice skates.
In January 2007, he appeared on the American version of “1 versus 100.” In an episode of ‘Decision House’ on MyNetworkTV titled ‘Burned Bridges,’ he and his wife Dori Bridges appeared. Additionally, he took a recurring role in the sitcom “Everyone Hates Chris.”
He appeared on “TruTV Presents: World’s Dumbest…” in March 2008. He also frequently served as a pundit. In October 2008, he debuted as a contestant on the CMT Network’s “Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling.” Judges praised his athleticism and victory over Harding. After advancing to the championship game, he was defeated by Dennis Rodman.
In 2010, he published the book ‘Killing Willis’ and promoted it on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He hosted the live game show ‘Lovers or Losers: The Game Show’ at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 2015.
Todd’s Major Opera
The critics praised Todd Bridges’ portrayal of Willis Jackson in the sitcom ‘Different Strokes’ Even though it was largely a sitcom, episodes frequently addressed serious problems such as racism, illegal drug usage, hitchhiking, kidnapping, and child sexual abuse.
Drug Dependence and Legal Matters
In 1986, Todd Bridges was suspected of bombing the vehicle of a business rival with whom he had a quarrel. He was sentenced to three years of probation, 300 hours of community service, and a fine of $2,500.
In his twenties, he became addicted to drugs. In 1989, Bridges was arrested and charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting narcotics dealer Kenneth Clay. A jury found him not guilty of the offense.
In January 1989, while unemployed, he threatened an auto technician with a revolver and stole his car without paying the $500 bill. The accusations were ultimately dropped because witnesses were unable to identify the culprit.
In 1993, Bridges had a dispute with one of his tenants. In response to the tenant’s sword strike, Bridges stabbed him in the chest with a kitchen knife. As he had acted in self-defense, the accusations against him were withdrawn. In the same year, he was arrested for methamphetamine possession and unlawful guns. After this occurrence, the court ordered him to enter a drug treatment program.
Todd’s Personal Life
In 1998, Todd Bridges and his brother James Bridges rescued a 51-year-old paraplegic woman from drowning after she fell into a lake by mistake. Her wheelchair rolled into a lake when she was fishing, causing the disaster.
The couple married on May 25, 1998. Spencer Bridges, his son, was born on July 15, 1998. He is no longer married to Dori.
His kid is also a child performer who has starred in “Daddy Day Camp” and an episode of “iCarly.” Additionally, Todd has a daughter by the name of Bo Bridges from a prior relationship.
In 1998, he established the Todd Bridges Youth Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit youth center that offers sports, computer training, and acting classes to youngsters.
Estimated Net Worth
The actor Todd Bridges is most known for portraying Willis Jackson from 1978 to 1986 on the sitcom “Different Strokes.” Todd Bridges has a $250,000 net worth.
Later on, he had a prominent recurring role in “Everybody Hates Chris.” Bridges acted in the 2012 Nigerian film “Turning Point” and served as a commentator for four years on the cable television series “World’s Dumbest.”