Todd Bridges Bio
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 40 years, he has victoriously survived loads of life challenges and a rapidly changing entertainment business.
Todd's career began and skyrocketed when he was only 6 years of age, forcing his family to relocate from a quiet, friendly neighborhood in San Francisco to the fast-paced streets of Los Angeles, California, in the early 1970s where he starred on the hit show Diff'rent Strokes.
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 for years 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 (from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) & Love Jones), Regina King (from Jerry Maguire), Lamont Bentley (from Moesha), and Aaron Meeks (from Soul Food).
It all began one day while watching Redd Foxx display his comic genius on Sanford and Son (1972), Todd was just a child and found 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 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. Battling his own demons, originating with childhood sexual abuse and unbelievable bouts of racism including regular police harassment, collided with the out-of-work actor's struggle to shake his typecast as "Willis Drummond." He began to experience turbulent times, which would later lead to drug addiction and jail time. There would be a pause in his career and his life for nearly ten years.
Todd Bridges has now been clean and sober for more than 30 years. He is a motivational speaker, working actor, director, and producer. Together, Todd and his brother, James Jr., have partnered to establish their own production company.
Todd loves to travel and meet people. He often speaks to crowds of 6,000+ in high schools, middle schools, and churches, warning about the dangers of drug use, negative peer pressure, and proclaiming Christ Jesus!
Todd is a proud husband and father. He was recently married, to his wife Bettijo B. Bridges. Todd has a daughter named Bo Bridges, from a previous relationship, and a son Spencir Bridges, from his former spouse Dori Bridges. Spencir was a child actor as well, and his appearances included movie Daddy Day Camp and an episode of iCarly. Todd has four stepchildren Attalie, Piper, Modette and Rockwell.
Todd can be found daily on his Twitch Livestream where he loves to play Fortnite and Battlefield, and he invites you to join him!