Killing Willis by Todd Bridges
From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted

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The former child star—best known as Willis Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes—shares the shocking but inspirational details of his struggles with addiction, brushes with the law, and fierce fight to carve a path through the darkness and find his true identity.

For Todd Bridges early stardom was no protection from painful childhood events that paved the road to his own personal hell. One of the first African-American child actors on shows like Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, and Roots, Bridges burst to the national forefront on the hit sitcom Diff’rent Strokes as the subject of the popular catchphrase, "What’chu Talkin About Willis?" When the show ended, Bridges was overwhelmed by the off-camera traumas he had faced. Turning to drugs as an escape, he soon lost control.

Now, for the first time, Bridges opens up about his life before and after Diff’rent Strokes: the incredible reversals of fortune brought on by fame and the precipitous—and very public—descent that followed; the persecution from police; the drug addiction that nearly consumed him; the criminal charges that almost earned him a life sentence; and his successful legal defense led by Johnnie Cochran. Through it all, Bridges never relented in his quest to fight his way back from the abyss, establish his own identity—separate from Willis Jackson—and offer his ordeal as a positive example for those struggling to overcome similar challenges. His triumphant story of recovery and redemption is recounted here as well.

Todd Bridges has lived a life of remarkable twists and turns—from the greatest heights to the lowest lows imaginable. In this shocking but ultimately hopeful memoir, he proves that what he was really talking about was survival.

About Todd Bridges

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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-based journalist and writer. Her articles and music reviews have appeared in publications including The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe,, and The Huffington Post. She is the co-author, with Tila Tequila, of “Hooking Up with Tila Tequila,” and the co-author, with actor Todd Bridges, of “Killing Willis.” She has also written two as-yet-unpublished novels, “Because the Night,” and “Sizzle.” Visit her online at and follow her alter ego, Duchess of Rock, on Twitter,  
Published March 25, 2010 by Touchstone. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Killing Willis

The Washington Times

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Leonard Nimoy once declared "I Am Not Spock" in the title of his autobiography, hoping to separate himself from his iconic role. "Killing Willis" by former "Diff'rent Strokes" star Todd Bridges involves an entirely different set of circumstances.

Apr 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Killing Willis: From Diff'ren...

Deseret News

In his memoir "Killing Willis," actor Todd Bridges takes the reader through his life as a popular child star to his descent into drug abuse to his ultimate redemption, thanks to religion and rehab.

Apr 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Killing Willis: From Diff'ren...

APOOO Bookclub

Author Todd Bridges shares his life’s journey from child star to drug addiction and the road to recovery that was lived out in the public eye at every turn.

May 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Killing Willis: From Diff'ren...

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