Todd Bridges opens up up around the fatality of "Diff"rent Strokes" co-star Charlotte Rae: "I"m the critical one left."


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For a generation the latchkey children growing increase in the 1980s, Charlotte Rae was much more than simply a sitcom actress. She Edna Garrett to be a surrogate maternal figure, increasing her teenaged wards — an initial as a housekeeper on Diff’rent Strokes,then together a prep institution administrator top top its spinoff The facts of Life — with a firm, if frazzled, hand.

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But for Todd Bridges, who played Willis ~ above Strokes, Rae — who passed away Aug. 5 at 92 — to be no surrogate. She was the very same nurturing and also ebullient woman who showed up on the screen.


“She was constantly so bright and also bubbly and also had so lot energy,” recalls Bridges, now 53. “So much power that we practically didn’t know just how to resolve her. It was virtually as if every time to be the an initial time she was exhilaration — that’s just how excited she was.”

Bridges is now the single surviving member that the show’s main point cast. Conrad Bain, that played his well-off adoptive father Mr. Drummond, passed away after a punch in 2013 at age 89. Bridges’ TV siblings room deceased as well: Gary Coleman to be 43 when he passed away in 2010 of one epidural hematoma, if Dana Plato fatally overdosed top top painkillers in 1999 as soon as she to be 34.

“I had actually a hard time critical night when I learned around Charlotte,” states Bridges. “When i hung up the phone, ns just damaged down. I’m the only one left. That’s difficult to transaction with. It’s yes, really sad and emotional. I had actually one item left from that show. Now I’m the just castmember left.”

Later the night, Bridges got an additional call — indigenous longtime girlfriend Kim Fields, that played Tootie ~ above The truth of Life. “She knew I’d it is in tore up,” he says. “She knew ns was close to Charlotte, and also she knew I’d it is in emotional due to the fact that I to be the last one.”

Rae left NBC’sStrokes after just two periods to star in Facts that Lifefor the exact same network in 1979 — what was initially envisioned together a spinoff because that Plato. “I think they want somebody a lot more stable to ground Dana, and also Charlotte to be a lot an ext stable,” Bridges recalls. (Unlike Bridges, Plato’s battles with drug and also alcohol addiction began while the display was tho in production, no after it to be canceled.) After shoot the pilot, the network chose that Plato would return toDiff’rent Strokes andLife ended up being a vehicle for Rae.


“We to be sad to lose Charlotte,” claims Bridges. But the mirrors filmed side-by-side top top the very same studio lot and so that “got to do a lot of crossover episodes.”

During Strokes‘ run, Bridges, who father to be an alcoholic, observed Bain and also Rae step in together parental figures. The two elder actors also got connected when a director flourished abusive. “Dana and I were just 12 years old as soon as the show started,” states Bridges. “And this director was just so average to us. He would scream in ~ us and also make united state cry.” after Rae and also Bain complained to producers, the director was fired.

Long after the display ended, Bridges’ TV guardians stayed in his life, even as the was devastated by crack and also meth addiction in his 20s — serving ripe months in prison for the shooting fatality of a drug dealer because that which the was later exonerated.

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“When ns was going v my stuff, she to be there. She and also Conrad to be both very much trying to gain ahold of me and also trying to execute anything they might to aid me. Charlotte involved see me when I was in jail. For this reason did Conrad — he came a bunch that times, and also so walk Kim Fields,” Bridges says.

“It’s like shedding a grandmother,” he states of Rae, who he critical spoke to one month ago. “It’s shedding somebody that cared around you. Not due to the fact that you to be on a show with them, but because they genuinely sincerely cared around you as a person being.”