Family & Companions
After his classic childhood stint on "The Partridge Family" (ABC, 1970-74), Danny Bonaduce became the pen-ultimate cautionary tale of all the damage early stardom can inflict on a child - particularly on a child lacking a stable, loving home to begin with. Although he eventually found a number of ways to capitalize on his gift for gab - including radio shows and the reality TV show "Breaking Bonaduce" (VH1, 2005-06) - it was ultimately the notoriety of being Danny Bonaduce, former child star run amok, that became his greatest and most recognizable asset.
Dante Daniel Bonaduce was born on Aug. 13, 1959 to television writer and producer Joseph Bonaduce and his wife Betty Steck in Broomall, PA. His father's career had always been a difficult one, even before the birth of his child, but when Danny's success began to generate more writing work for Joseph, friction developed. Bonaduce would later claim physical abuse - there were multiple allegations of abuse during "The Partridge Family's" run, including the well-reported stories of extra makeup needed to cover his bruises and fellow cast members like TV mom Shirley Jones, taking Bonaduce home to live with her on occasion.
Danny attended the California Prep High School in Encino, CA (in the San Fernando Valley) alongside fellow classmates - and later, fellow criminal suspects - Michael Jackson and Christian Brando. Although his name would become inextricably tied with "The Partridge Family," Bonaduce was a veteran child actor - and S.A.G. cardholder by age 11 - with roles on commercials and shows including "Bewitched" (ABC, 1964-1972), and "Mayberry R.F.D." (CBS, 1968-1971).
In the early 1970s, the freckle-faced redhead landed his iconic role of Danny Partridge on the bubble-gum program, "The Partridge Family." As a member of a fictional traveling family band, like most of the cast - including Shirley Jones and Susan Dey - Bonaduce did not actually sing or play an instrument. He didn't play the role of the teenage heartthrob either - that was left to Jones' real-life step-son, David Cassidy, who actually did sing and became an almost Elvis-esque teen idol almost overnight. Instead, natural born troublemaker Bonaduce exhibited a natural flair for comedy and his assured rapid-fire delivery made him an instrumental part of the cast and driving the stories. The show was a great commercial success, spawning massive amounts of spin-off merchandise and opportunities, including a series of albums, and (even after the show had left the air) and the short-lived cartoon, "The Partridge Family, 2200 A.D." (CBS, 1974-75), which was voiced by the original cast.
After "Partridge" wrapped, Bonaduce's career became a study in eccentricity and disarray. High and lowlights included working as a stable boy for Kenny Rogers, years as a cocaine addict with multiple arrests - including the infamous punching a transvestite in Arizona arrest - and several stints in rehab, and over 20 years studying martial arts. The latter talent he fine-tuned while studying under Chuck Norris (for 20 years!), earning black belts in Okinawan Chinan Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Tae Kwon Do, and Tokyo-Ryu. He was even able to showcase his abilities as a fighter on eight episodes of "CHiPs" (NBC, 1977-1985) - one of Bonaduce's sporadic acting gigs throughout the ensuing decades.
Although "The Partridge Family" was not the end of Bonaduce's acting career, it was indubitably its highlight. Although he appeared on episodes of everything from "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1978-1984) to "Married with Children" (FOX, 1987-1997), the vast majority of his roles were self-referential or self-deprecating winks to his sad, sordid Hollywood childhood - as in "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" (2003) - or to his status as a true 70s icon - as on "That 70's Show" (Fox, 1998-2006).
After a brief marriage to Setsuko Hattori in 1985 and a divorce three years later, the somewhat wayward Bonaduce met the woman of his dreams two years later, when after a first blind date, he impulsively married the former Gretchen Hilmer. Their daughter Countess Isabella Michaela Bonaduce was born on Nov. 23, 1994. The pregnancy (and birth) of their second child, son Count Dante Jean-Michel Valentino Bonaduce on Feb. 14, 2001, were chronicled on a reality show entitled "A Baby Story" (TLC, -).This would not be the last time the Bonaduce family would open their hearts and home to reality TV cameras.
In 2005, "Breaking Bonaduce" premiered on VH1, starring Gretchen, Danny, and their heated, sometimes dysfunctional (more on his end than hers) relationship. Viewers shook their heads in disbelief as former addict Bonaduce shot himself up with steroids, drank a bottle of vodka straight, had to be physically restrained from beating up everyone from the show's producers to his own marital therapist, to going so far as to attempt suicide, thankfully off camera. Fortunately for Bonaduce, as always, his humor and natural likeability helped keep viewers somewhat in his corner - but many, including shock jock Howard Stern, who would give joyful blow-by-blows of Bonaduce's latest meltdown on his radio show - felt the actor had stepped over the line and had officially lost his mind, reveling in his misfortune. Due to the suicide attempt and yet another trip to rehab for Bonaduce, who feared the loss of his marriage and family, plans were still up in the air for a second season of the guilty pleasure program.
Perhaps due to his tumultuous real life misadventures, Bonaduce had trouble getting cast through the years in dramatic roles that he very well could have excelled at. Always a good talker, Bonaduce changed his focus, becoming involved in radio broadcasting in the nineties. In 1996, he DJ'd on two radio stations in two different cities at the same time. Five days a week, he would do the "Danny Bonaduce and the Q-Crew" morning show on WKQI in Detroit, then fly to Chicago to do the afternoon drive show on WLUP in the Windy City. His most notable co-host gig was most likely on the morning program, "The Jamie and Danny Show" on 98.7 Star FM in Los Angeles, starting in 1999 and ending by termination in 2005 - the same time he was imploding on his VH1 show. Ever the comeback kid, Bonaduce recovered from his latest firing by being hired as host of GSN's celebrity game show, "Starface" (2006).
Cast (Feature Film)
Stunts (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
First television appearance was in "Accidental Family" (NBC)
Appeared in episodes of "Bewitched" (ABC) and "Mayberry R.F.D." (CBS)
Breakthrough role, playing the wisecracking second son Danny Partridge, on the ABC series, "The Partridge Family"
Released his self-titled album
Lent his voice to the short-lived cartoon, "The Partridge Family, 2200 A.D" (CBS)
Acted in the ABC TV-movie, "Murder on Flight 502" about a hijacked passenger plane, with Sonny Bono and Farrah Fawcett
Had a recurring role on "CHiPs" (NBC) as a martial artist
Appeared opposite Mark Hamill and Annie Potts in "Corvette Summer"
Hired to simultaneously host the "Danny Bonaduce and the Q-Crew" morning show on WKQI in Detroit and the afternoon drive show on WLUP in Chicago
Appeared in the fourth season of "The Drew Carey Show" as the son of Shirley Jones' character
Co-hosted the morning radio program, "The Jamie and Danny Show" on 98.7 Star FM in Los Angeles
Narrated and produced the behind the scenes story of "The Partridge Family" TV show, "Come On, Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story" (ABC)
Co-hosted the syndicated daytime talk show, "The Other Half" with Dick Clark and Mario Lopez
Released his autobiography, <i>Random Acts of Badness</i>
Appeared with wife Gretchen on the VH1 reality series, "Breaking Bonaduce"
Joined "The Adam Carolla Show" as a featured member on KLSX-FM in Los Angeles
Received his own syndicated talk-show, "The Danny Bonaduce Show" on KLSX-FM in Los Angeles; cancelled due to a format change at the Los Angeles station
Produced the VH1 competition series, "I Know My Kid's a Star"