Best Known For
American actor Todd Bridges is best known for playing Willis Jackson on the hit TV sitcom Diff’rent Strokes.
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To make matters worse, Bridges said he was terrorized by white supremacists in his Canoga Park, California neighborhood the summer of 1983. Following an incident in which the actor faced sniper shots from his harassers, Bridges said his car was stolen and set on fire. Frightened by the targeted assault, the actor began carrying a gun. That same month, he was pulled over by police for a traffic violation, and was charged with carrying a loaded,
concealed weapon. Bridges paid a $240 fine for the offense.
This did not end Bridges' run-ins with the law, however. In 1986, shortly after the final season of Diff'rent Strokes, the actor was accused of bombing the car of a person with which he had a business dispute. He pleaded no contest to the charges. The judge gave Bridges three years' probation, 300 hours of community service and a $2,500 fine.
Bridges' legal troubles made finding work difficult, and the lack of substantial roles for Black actors further complicated his career. Depressed and despondent, Todd turned to drugs and crime. In January of 1989, law enforcement officials said the out-of-work actor threatened an auto mechanic with a gun, and removed his car from the shop without paying his $500 bill. After witnesses couldn't accurately identify the suspect, however, the charges were dropped. A month later, Bridges found himself in trouble yet again, this time for the attempted murder of drug dealer Kenneth "Tex" Clay. According to the charges, Bridges' argument with Clay escalated into violence, and the actor shot his victim eight times. During his trial, Bridges admitted that he was abusing cocaine, and that his drug use prevented him from knowing for sure whether or not he had shot anyone. With the help of his lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, Bridges was acquitted after two separate trials. But the bad publicity effectively destroyed his acting career.
In 1993, Bridges found himself on the wrong side of the law again when he got into an argument with a tenant in his home, David Kitchen. Kitchen allegedly refused to pay rent and attacked Bridges with a sword. Bridges retaliated by stabbing Kitchen in the chest with a kitchen knife. Attorneys determined that Bridges acted in self-defense, and charges were dropped. That same year, however, Bridges was arrested for possession of the drug methamphetamine and for illegal firearms. After this incident, Bridges entered a court-ordered drug treatment program.
Rehab helped Bridges kick his substance abuse issues, but it didn't seem to curb his violent tendencies. Bridges was charged in 1997 with an assault on a friend's car, which he rammed over and over with his own car after an argument. He was given community service and a fine.
Life changed for the actor in 1998, when he turned to Christianity for help with his problems. Around this time, he founded the Todd Bridges Youth Foundation, a nonprofit youth center in Los Angeles that provides sports, computer training, and acting courses for inner-city children.
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