While most of the chatter about last night’s BET Awards has been focused around Chris Brown’s emotional breakdown during his performance of “Man In The Mirror,” it’s worth noting that there was also a lot of action on the red carpet before last night’s festivities, too. In particular, VH1 News’ own Janell Snowden — follow her on Twitter! — was able to get a few moments with Todd Bridges, former Diff’rent Strokes star and longtime confidant of the late Gary Coleman. Bridges was there, of course, to honor the memory of his old friend, which he accomplished when he got the whole crowd to shout “Whatchu talkin’ about, Willis?” But on the red carpet, Bridges appeared to be a bit angrier at the chain of events that led to Coleman’s unexpected passing. He had stern words for both Coleman’s parents and his ex-wife, Shannon Price, telling Janell that “something’s fishy” and that he hopes that “God looks into [his death] and the police look into it.”
Todd Bridges paved the way for future f*cked-up child stars, carving out a destructive trail of drugs, violence, and murder that standardized the destiny of kid actors — especially those on his own hit show. The adorable teen — who ended his run as Willis Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes in 1986 — was busted just two years after the show’s end for attempting to murder a drug dealer while crazy on a coke binge. The actor was acquitted, but found himself facing the same charge in 1997 after attacking someone with a car — and was acquitted once more, making him one of the only child stars ever to experience good luck in later life.
Co-stars Dana Plato and Gary Coleman also endured the rough reality of post-sitcom fame. Dana posed for Playboy, was busted for drug possession a few times, and OD’d in 1999 at age 35. Gary went bankrupt and was nailed for assault while working as a security guard. But it was Todd — the first of the three to fall — who would prove the only one to come out OK on the other side of disaster.
The actor finally got sober and now spends his time speaking to kids about the dangers of drugs (he’s an expert, clearly), and attempting a second go at fame on shows like Skating with Celebrities and Everybody Hates Chris. Of his murky past, Todd admits, “The bottom line is I’ve made stupid choices. But I got my life together now and that’s the difference. I’m not the same idiot I used to be.”