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Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted Paperback – March 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; SIGNED edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439148996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439148990
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #785,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About 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.

More About 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.

Customer Reviews

He learned a lot of life lessons the hard way, and all while still a young adult.
School Teacher
When I first started reading "Killing Willis" I wasn't sure how I felt about Todd Bridges - like everyone else I had read of his legal and drug problems.
drebbles
I felt there were too many unnecessary details of sexual experiences included that really did nothing to enhance the book but seemed mostly gratuitous.
Ferdy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By School Teacher on March 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By shaxper on April 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you're looking for a raw, no holds barred depiction of drugs, sex, and violence, then this may be the biography for you. However, if you're looking for anything heavier than that: introspection, self-awareness, and maturation, this may not be the place to look. I couldn't bear to keep reading after around 200 pages, not because of Todd's raw depiction of the street life, but rather because his chronicle feels thoroughly deficient in other, more important, respects.

First of all, Todd demonstrates little understanding of himself and often seems to be stroking his own ego. He goes on and on about what a big deal he was as a child/teen star, often seems like he's bragging when he discusses his exploits and promotions in the drug world, and constantly paints himself as an innocent victim, even going as far as to say that none of what he did was his fault other than taking drugs in the first place. How about his running two crack houses and intentionally getting several women hooked? How about all the crime and death he indirectly promoted through his drug dealing activities? At one particularly important point in the book, he finds himself wrongfully accused of murder and never connects the dots to realize that the murder was committed by his people in his crack house against his arch rival. No, Todd claims he never fired a gun, but many guns fired because of him. Todd sees himself here as an innocent victim of racial profiling and personal grudges in much the same way as he was when the police repeatedly pulled him over earlier in life and hassled him for being black. The two situations are far from the same. It's not that Todd needs to show more remorse over the things he did; it's that he doesn't show any because he doesn't see himself as deserving blame.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Cydney Rax on March 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
While reading KILLING WILLIS, especially as I came upon account after account of Todd's experiences with child abuse, drugs, and violence, all I could think was, 'How is this guy going to make it through?' On one hand, his memories of how he got into show business and his success from acting are thrilling to read. It was great to see how much his mother supported his interests; on the other hand, some of the other childhood memories are difficult to stomach. Some of the people he was around during his formative years had a negative impact on his life and he explains all the notorius and famous headlines that were made as he grew older. I must admit: I've never read a book like this before. At times the material took my breath away. It was a tough read. But Todd appears to be so forthcoming that you cannot fault the man for telling the truth. If you enjoy reading celebrity biographies, this one should definitely be included at the top of your list. You'll find yourself rooting for him and hoping he makes it out okay. No human being, actor or not, should ever have to go through what he endured. Excellent read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Yolanda Hunt on March 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I really did enjoy this book. I even cried while reading certain sections( read the book and u will know what section I'm referring to)... I'm the same age as Todd, and grew up in Los Angeles so I could really relate to a lot of the drug stuff he talked about that went down in our community. He was a part of it, and lived to tell about it which is a miracle in it's self. Todd laid it all out in this book, and I think fans will really enjoy it like I did.
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