Former teen actor, Diff’rent Strokes star Todd Bridges, says First Lady Nancy Reagan gave him advice about drugs that helped him get through the “lowest point” of his life.
Bridges has been candid in recent years regarding his addictions to crack cocaine and other drugs. The actor, now 50-years-old and 22 years sober, also sold an array of dangerous and illegal drugs and was found not guilty of shooting a drug dealer in Los Angeles in 1990.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bridges spoke fondly Mrs. Reagan, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 94, and her impact on his life after she appeared on his popular TV sitcom in 1983.
In the episode, Mrs. Reagan appeared to help Gary Coleman’s character Arnold learn more about the drug epidemic.
Watch a clip below:
“My first memory is how tight the security was and how we weren’t able to move around like we were used to. At that point, I didn’t know that much about the Secret Service and all that. Once you were around her, you saw how serious they were about it. Most of our audience was made up of Secret Service,” Bridges recalled of the event.
Explaining to THR that the idea of having Mrs. Reagan on the show was one of his producers’, Bridges said, “We didn’t know if she’d agree to it, but she did. She was great.”
“She was very personable, very nice,” he added. “She sat down and had long talks with all of us. She was wonderful, a really nice lady … to have her on our show was a wonderful thing.”
Bridges added that he thinks the former First Lady’s appearance on the program made a positive impact on part of the world, despite her trademark slogan “Just Say No” to drugs being too vague.
“It really did [have an impact]. You have to realize it was the ‘80s, when drugs hit really hard. It was everywhere fast, because of Miami, which just exploded with [cocaine].”
“But she actually did help me through my troubles,” said Bridges. “At my lowest point, I started remembering what she was talking about and the reason why the stuff was so bad. Once you figure out the root cause — what makes you do something [self-destructive] — you figure out how to stop.”
The actor added: “It’s really all about you when it comes down to it. You can’t blame anybody else. You can’t put it on whatever environment you grew up in. You have to quit blaming and put the responsibility on yourself to get off of it.”
Read Bridges’ full interview here.