Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Danny Bonaduce: A Helluva Guy

This week Danny Bonaduce, a Los Angeles radio personality, was approached while eating lunch by John Conner, a "Truther," one of the kooks who believe that 9/11 was a conspiracy of the Bush administration. Little Green Footballs has the YouTube video of the confrontation that followed. With an aid videotaping it, Conner stuck a microphone in Danny's face and tried to get him to buy into the big conspiracy theory. Basically, Bonaduce informed Conner that he was a kook and to piss off. Incredibly, Conner posted his own videotaped ass-kicking on YouTube where it received raves from conservatives and spitballs from the Kooky Left.

Leftwingers at did what Lefties always do when they can't refute you, they insult you and try to censor you. Some of them called Bonaduce a "failed child star and reformed drug addict" among other things. That's true, but Bonaduce need not apologize to anyone about his past, because his redemption is an inspiring story.

I happen to be a fan of Danny Bonaduce. I know more about him than most people, because I read his autobiographical book Random Acts of Badness. Let me tell you a few things about Danny.

Danny Bonaduce was first brought to the public's attention in the early 1970's when, as a young boy, he made a television ad for Underwoood Deviled Ham. He extolled the ham's virtues by saying "It's a borgasmord," corrupting the intended word "smorgasbord." He was red headed, chubby-cheeked and freckle faced and the public loved him. From there he was picked up by the television sitcom "The Partridge Family," where he played the bass guitar player for the Partridge Family Band. He was always getting into trouble in the series and was one of its funniest and most popular characters.

The Partridge Family show lasted four years. Then one day when Danny's mom drove him to the studio for work, the guard at the gate told them "The Partridge Family doesn't live here anymore." The show had been canceled. Overnight Danny went from fame and fortune to anonymity and no income. Like many former child stars, the transition from celebrity back to normal life was traumatizing. Danny auditioned for other TV roles but none were forthcoming. He was older and no longer the chubby cheeked cherub once desired for juvenile roles. He became a "poster boy for failed child stars." There are few things so depressing in life as to see your biggest accomplishment in the rear view mirror and feeling that it is "all downhill from here."

Bonaduce lived off of a trust fund for several years, using it to buy alcohol and drugs. He became addicted to crack cocaine and sought out pushers in dangerous neighborhoods to get his drugs. Finally the trust fund ran out and he became homeless. Danny hit his lowest point when he had to live out of his car, selling autographs outside of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood just to buy food.

Somehow Danny managed to begin the arduous journey back to a normal life. He met Gretchen and married her on the first date. He was drunk, but when he sobered up he noticed that she was cute, they were in bed and she was naked. So he decided to hang around for awhile and is still with her today. She provided the guidance and the occasional ball-busting he needed to get straight, with a few mishaps along the way (there was that incident in Phoenix when he picked up a transvestite and, upon learning of his mistake, beat the crap out of the transvestite). He was arrested for that and also a few times for drugs. One day he climbed into his car intending to go buy drugs, but Gretchen stopped him. She lay down under the wheels of his car and told him he would have to drive over her to do it. She wouldn't budge until he threw in the towel. He turned off the ignition. Danny eventually got straight and stayed that way.

After a few weird jobs Danny got a break and became a popular radio show host in Los Angeles. Along the bumpy road of life he learned to care for other people. He talked one of his listeners out of his plan to commit suicide. He bought and delivered a wheel chair to some poor crippled kid he heard about on television. While delivering it he inadvertantly broke parole. An asshole of a police commissioner heard about it, had him arrested in handcuffs and humilated him in front of the precinct's police officers.

What I like about Danny Bonaduce is the fact that he never quit. He fell from celebrity and public acclaim to the gutter and was one seriously fucked-up dude. By all the laws of probability, he should have died of an overdose in some flop house or back alley. But he sobered up, kicked his habit and reinvented himself. That takes a lot of balls. No matter how far you've fallen in life, look at Danny Bonaduce and see what's possible.

Dan, you're the Man.

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