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Todd Bridges        

Author, Director & Actor Known for "Diff'rent Strokes"; Substance Abuse Recovery Advocate

Todd Bridges has seen and done it all. Bridges has lived and worked amongst some of the most famous and influential individuals in the world. For over twenty-five years, he has victoriously survived a rapidly changing business. He experienced his second rise to fame, as "Juice" on “The Young and the Restless.”

Bridges' career began and rocketed when he was only six years of age, forcing his family to relocate from a quiet, friendly neighborhood in San Francisco to the fast-paced stardom of Los Angeles, California in the early 70s. 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 quite a bit 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 (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Love Jones), Regina King (Jerry Maguire), Lamont Bentley (Moesha), and Aaron Meeks (Soul Food).

It all began one day while watching Redd Foxx display his comic genius on “Sanford and Son.” Bridges, then six, realized 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, Bridges went on to make some 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.

Bridges was the first black child actor to become a recurring regular on the hit series, “The Waltons,” and “Little House on the Prairie” with the late great Michael Landon. He went on to guest star on “Barney Miller,” which eventually gained a spin-off show, starring Abe Vigoda. The spin-off was titled “Fish” and Bridges 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,” “Good Times,” “All in the Family” and “The Facts of Life,” 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.” The wheels were spinning and “Diff'rent Strokes” 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.

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