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Jim J. Bullock is an American actor best known for his starring role in the 1980's sitcom Too Close for Comfort. He struggled to come out as gay and HIV positive.
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Basically nine celebrities, each occupying one square of a giant tic-tac-toe board, answered questions for two contestants. This format left plenty of time for jokes and wisecracks. Sometimes Bullock even overshadowed the comedienne in the center square, Joan Rivers, with his comments. Some compared him to Paul Lynde who occupied the Rivers’ position in an earlier version of the show.
Returning to television series,
Bullock appeared in a recurring role in the final season of ALF—the title stood for Alien Life Form. The show featured a fuzzy creature from outer space, ALF, who lands on Earth and joins the Tanner family. It was a horrible experience for Bullock as he later told the Boston Globe. “I’ve tried to forget that show altogether. . . . Just a miserable group of people doing a miserable show.”
After ALF, Bullock’s career took a nosedive. He could not find another acting gig and ended up losing his house and filing for bankruptcy. The one bright spot of this dark time was meeting and falling in love with John Casey in 1990. Also around this time, Bullock came out of the closet, publicly revealing his sexual orientation, which had a negative impact on his career.
In 1996, Bullock returned to television to co-host a talk show with former televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, most commonly known for her heavy use of make-up and the scandal surrounding her former husband’s ministry. They seemed an unlikely pair, but they actually were quite friendly. Nationally syndicated, The Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show debuted in January, but six weeks later Tammy Faye left, complaining that the taping schedule was too overwhelming.
In an effort to keep the show alive, Tammy Faye was replaced, but it only lasted two more months on the air. Bullock, in addition to his work as a co-host, had been appearing in a LA stage production of End of the World Party. Created by Chuck Ranberg, a former writer on the popular sitcom Frasier, the drama looked a group of gay men sharing a house on Fire Island for the summer. Bullock received warm reviews for his work. But he was also struggling in his personal life, losing his partner to AIDS-related complications that same year.
After Casey’s death, Bullock’s HIV status was leaked to the press and made tabloid headlines. This news damaged his career and fueled the depression he had already been experiencing. Partying frequently, Bullock developed a substance abuse problem. He went through rehabilitation for drugs in 1998, but he had a relapse in 1999. On a week-long crystal meth binge, Bullock was arrested by the police for drug possession. The arrest was a wake-up call for him and he stop using drugs after that.
In 2000, Bullock received some recognition for his stage work, winning a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for his performance in When Pigs Fly, a musical revue. He appeared in a number of regional theater productions, including Dear Sheldon with Jo Anne Worley in 2002, before making his way to Broadway.
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