By Grace Whitney
At the age of 51, Danny Bonaduce was supposed to have grown up by now. He recently celebrated the 40-year anniversary of 70s TV show “The Partridge Family,” in which he played middle son Danny Partridge. Despite the success of the show, Bonaduce ended up homeless by the time he was in his mid-teens. “They were only paying me forty dollars a week,” he laughs. He ended up “broke and living out of doors in L.A.”
In a twist of Hollywood fate, the story of Danny Bondauce, homeless, penniless former child star actually ended up granting him the opportunity to make more money than he ever had. “The story of me being homeless was a big deal.” He said. He ended up interviewed and paid to be destitute, flown around the country, put up in nice hotels in Miami and Chicago, all to expose his poverty.
The irony is not lost on Bonaduce. “For me,” he says, “the line between fiction and reality is blurred.”
He took a job working for a radio show in 1986, effectively making a living again as an entertainer. In 2005 he wrote and produced his own reality show, “Breaking Bonaduce,” which he says was “fictional by design.” The reality of Danny Bonaduce on VH1 was “what I gave you.” For example, the scene where he takes 50 Vicodin after breaking his right hand involved some acting. He’s “not deranged,” he laughs.
The notorious persona of Danny Bonaduce, because of the “two or three colorful things” in his past, has followed him since his younger years. But despite his assurances that in his heart he is still just a child, one who still thinks “electricity still gets to [his] house by magic,” Bonaduce is now surprisingly put-together.
His radio show, his biggest passion now, is created with the same sort of impulsive, fiction-blurring performance by which he’s always lived his life. “Plan A hasn’t happened to me yet.” He explains. On tomorrow morning’s show, whatever he talks about will have happened to him between now and then. But, he says, “always be prepared.” He has a scripted back-up show always waiting in the wings. He spends his life in Philadelphia, with his schoolteacher wife. He would never encourage his children, at ages six and ten, to go into Hollywood, mentioning that kids on TV is “so precarious. Achieving those goals are so slim.” He sees “no great honor in being an icon.” For him the greatest honor “is just to be employed,” as he has been on the air every day of his life for the past 22 years.
“I think, “ he says, reflecting on his life. “I think the only thing left on my bucket list is to kick the bucket.”
Maybe, just maybe, Danny Bonaduce actually has grown up.