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BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 11: Todd Bridges attends Premiere Of Apple TV+'s "Truth Be Told" at AMPAS Samuel Goldwyn Theater on November 11, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/FilmMagic)
Tragic Details About Todd Bridges
History - Science
Content Warning
This story contains discussions of suicide and domestic and sexual abuse.
Born in San Francisco, California in 1965, Todd Bridges always dreamed of being an actor. He first became famous as Willis Jackson on “Diff’rent Strokes” during his teens, but his adult life after the show would be riddled with profound struggles.
As a child, Bridges and his mother suffered domestic abuse from his father. He also endured repeated assaults from an older family friend when he was 11, and when he told his parents about it, he was shocked to see his father taking the abuser’s side. Bridges says the betrayal “destroyed” him, and he started to cope with drugs at age 15.
After the end of “Diff’rent Strokes,” Bridges’ drug addiction worsened and led him to have several run-ins with the law, including a charge of attempted murder, which he was eventually acquitted for. He was seriously contemplating suicide when he was arrested again at age 26, but after a judge ordered him to undergo a 90-day psychological study, he was eventually able to get clean.
Bridges managed to get back into acting, but soon he had to deal with the deaths of his fellow cast members from “Diff’rent Strokes.” His “brother” on the show, Gary Coleman, died in 2010, and his “adoptive father,” Conrad Baine, in 2013; after the death of actress Charlotte Rae in 2018, Bridges found himself the last living cast member.
Bridges married his wife Dori in 1998 and had a son with her, Spencir Bridges, who has followed him into acting. Though the couple divorced in 2012, the separation seems to have been an amicable one — Bridges wrote on Twitter that he was "glad to have had the years to know [Dori] and have a great kid with her. As we know, people grow apart and we did."