Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted
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Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted

4.1 33
by Todd Bridges, Sarah Tomlinson
     
 

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It Was a Hard Choice. Suicide by cop was easy compared to what I had in front of me. I had gone from being a teen idol to a tabloid joke. I was broke, and I didn't have any prospects of getting my career back. I had been to rehab five times. I usually didn't last more than a few days. It never once stuck for longer than a few months. I had spent almost a year in

Overview

It Was a Hard Choice. Suicide by cop was easy compared to what I had in front of me. I had gone from being a teen idol to a tabloid joke. I was broke, and I didn't have any prospects of getting my career back. I had been to rehab five times. I usually didn't last more than a few days. It never once stuck for longer than a few months. I had spent almost a year in jail while awaiting trial and vowed I would never go back. I had tried, and failed, to block out all of the things that had been written about me in the press before. I had felt pain and self-hatred so deep and raw that the only way to silence it was with drugs.

But this was not how I wanted to end it. I wanted to live.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439148983
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
03/16/2010
Pages:
275
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

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Meet the Author

Todd Bridges was born in San Francisco, California in 1965. He became the first African-American child actor to have a recurring role on a successful TV series, The Waltons. He also appeared on Little House on the Prairie, and in the landmark miniseries Roots. He was a regular on the Barney Miller spinoff Fish, before landing his best-known role as Willis on Diff'rent Strokes.

Bridges has a brother and sister who are both actors, Jimmy Bridges and Verda Bridges. His father, James Bridges, Sr., became one of the first prominent black Hollywood agents, while his mother, Betty A. Bridges, was also an actress and later became one of Hollywood's greatest managers and acting coaches.

Today, Todd is a working actor, director, and producer and he and his brother James Jr., have partnered to establish their own production company, Little Bridge Productions. Todd is married and has a son, Spencir, and a daughter, Bo.

Sarah Tomlinson is a Los Angeles– and Brooklyn-based writer. Her writing has appeared in publications including Marie Claire, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Salon.com, and Vol1Brooklyn.com. She has ghostwritten nine books, including two uncredited New York Times bestsellers. Visit her online at SarahTomlinson.com and follow her alter ego, Duchess of Rock (@DuchessofRock), on Twitter.

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Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
schoolteacher More than 1 year ago
Knowing only that he had been on my favorite show as a kid and had been arrested as an adult, I was not prepared for the rollercoaster of emotion this book provided. Todd lets the reader into the deepest, darkest parts of his mind, thoughts, emotions, confessions, and life: the parts most of us are afraid to look at in ourselves, much less admit to others. The voice is so raw and honest, I felt as if I was snooping in someone's personal diary and that I should not be privileged to the information I was reading. The reality of his story is harsh, and at times I felt as if I were a child who should cover my ears while someone told a story I couldn't handle or shouldn't hear. He lays it all out on the table and holds NOTHING back. As painful as it was to read, I couldn't put it down and read it all in one day! I cried so much reading this book that I was sick. I felt so terrible for him, and all the kids like him still in these situations, that there were times I had to stop and walk away. He makes intelligent and self-aware connections to how abuse and racism can lead to self-hatred which then leads to depression and other problems. He makes no excuses for his mistakes, but shows how the mistreatment and abuse children receive in this world today, especially child stars, can scar them for life, and, as children, they are unable to deal with those events and unprepared to make the difficult decisions that are placed in front of them. He also shows how quickly depression can take its toll and how fast life spirals out of control once drug use begins. Readers get a true look into the lives of many who faced racism during that time period, as well as glimpse into the nasty world of many drug addicts. He shows no fear in telling it exactly like it was. He learned a lot of life lessons the hard way, and all while still a young adult. He tells some disturbing, gut-wrenching stories about his recovery. But, he also describes the tough climb back up, and the humbling experience of starting over with his past as an obstacle. In the end Todd completely changed his life, himself, and his outlook on the world. He also discusses his mission to educate others in hopes that teens can learn from his mistakes and make better choices for their lives. Reliving his pain day after day and admitting his faults to strangers cannot be easy, but in this book, he really inspires people to step up and be better to themselves and to their children and to face those difficult questions and situations in our lives head-on. He is not just a child star gone bad, he is a real person with real experiences and problems in his life just like everyone else. Fortunately, he is one of the survivors.
Erria Daniels More than 1 year ago
He does not hold back and takes full responsibility for his actions as a drug dealer and user evethough it was caused by sexual,emotional, and physical abuse.
Mageboom More than 1 year ago
I am not sure what book these other reviewers are reading but the book I read was well-written (which is hard to find with these celebrity memoirs) and honest. Mr. Bridges pulls no punches in his analysis of his life. He was not "ghetto". In fact he was raised in a middle-class household. The turning point for him was the sexual abuse he suffered as a child and his father's failure to believe him when he looked for rescue from something he knew felt so wrong. As a survivor of child sexual and physical abuse myself these passages were all too real to me. Many others would allow that occurrence to be a justification for drug dealing and drug taking. Mr. Bridges did not. Yes, he sold drugs but with others who were also drug addicts like him and to support his own habits. This is an all too frequent common story. However, the difference is he owns up to his own responsibility in this part of his life. He does not use being a "child actor" as an easy excuse. That is why he was able to turn his life around and remain sober for almost 18 years and raise 2 beautiful children. This is what makes his book different. Too many times these celebrities use all these excuses but never confront their own responsibility. Mr. Bridges does not and I found his book uplifting and hopeful as opposed to whiny and narcissitic. Mr. Bridges is an actor and yet the press constanting refers to the mistakes he made years ago as if the incidents he speaks about in his book happened yesterday. I hope those who read this excellent memoir realize this is a man who had (no pun intended) career highs and personal lows that crashed into a stew of drugs and hopelessness. Most people in that situation would have died or continued until they were in prison for life. Mr. Bridges rose above it with a new perspective about himself as a man and a human being. I hope he is given the second chance to be the artist and actor he is and the entertainmnet industry no longer holds his 18 year old transgressions against him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Behind the bright lights, sometimes you just never know what is truly going on. This is a story that cast a new light on the age old expression that everything that glitters isn't always gold. With Bridges, I can only pray that he takes a page from one of my favorite books, "When God Stopped Keeping Score" and know that now that he knows the moments where people and events have failed him, he can truly begin to find forgiveness and move forward in his life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book
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Great book!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is well written by one of america's greatest underrated child actors. This book should be a must read for young people who want to break into entertainment . Superb!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, Todd Bridges was very brave to write about his life. Most people would take all this hurt with them to their grave.
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Bookworm-42 More than 1 year ago
It is always amazing to me when you find out the "behind the scenes" story of someone's life. I have heard many things about child stars, but this story, this book, captured me in a way like no other. I found myself re-reading some passages over and over again, because i just could not believe this sweet little kid from sitcom history lived this crazy life. This book would be great for young men or boys living with the shame of sexual abuse and not allowing that DEMON to define you or hold you back from excelling. For this would give the oppressor more power over you. This young man suffered, but thru it all he triumphed. This book also pays homage to the love of a mother. That no matter what, her love is stronger than any drug, fame, shame, fear, etc. Todd's mother is a true testiment to the fact that "a real mom will always love you and have your back". I am so happy for Todd and proud of him for not using this book as a way to justify his actions, but to own up to them and help others. WONDERFUL!!!
Danielle0421 More than 1 year ago
Wow, it's amazing that Todd lived through all that he did and came out at the other end. He did not hold anything back in this book and I give him credit for being able to admit to all the mistakes he made and learn from them. I actually got emotional at the end of the book, when he finally is getting his life back together again, because I think it speaks to every one of us. No matter how lost we are, or what mistakes we have made, we can always turn our lives around and live the lives we were meant to lead. I loved Todd when he was on Diff'rent Strokes, but I'm rooting for him even more now!
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LISAS2010 More than 1 year ago
I am telling you, while I was reading this book it just kept reminding me of "High on Arrival" by Mackenzie Phillips. The only exception is that Mr. Bridges was not only a drug abuser, but a dealer as well. I do empathized with his plight with prejudice and abuse during his childhood, but that was really no excuse for the way he ultimately turned out in his adulthood. Thankfully, he did turn his life around for the better and set his priorities straight. He exemplifies that old saying: "The longer you suffer, the greater the rewards." Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book, because I didn't know if I should be disgusted or enlightened by what I was reading. This is definitely not for everyone, especially if you are sensitive about either drug or sexual abuse.
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