America's Deadliest Home Video
Early radio job
What a drag!
Danny vs Donny
Partridge Family feud?
"Danny!" Publicity photo
With Star 98.7 co-host Jamie White
Happy times: with Mom in Mexico
With daughter, Isabella
At a recent party
With Gretchen and Isabella in a recent newspaper photo
GH: You did the films, Corvette Summer and H.O.T.S. after The Partridge Family.
DB: Yeah. I remember Mark Hamill and Annie Potts were both in Corvette Summer. Both had been in really bad car wrecks. Mark was all scarred and Annie had some kind of a limp.
GH: What else did you do?
DB: I was in a film called Deadly Intruder. I had just received my 1st or 2nd degree black belt and there was a fight scene in it, so I offered to choreograph it for them. So they gave me a credit as Fight Coordinator.
GH: How did you get started in radio?
DB: Totally accidental. I was homeless and went to live with my Mother. I was walking around Philadelphia and some disc jockey saw me and invited me to be on his show. He had all these questions for me and I had all these clever answers. I was hired right then and there. I’ve been in radio ever since.
GH: How did you meet your wife, Gretchen?
DB: Blind date. Phoenix, Arizona. It was set up by the radio station because I didn’t know anybody and we ended up getting married.
GH: You had a well-publicized arrest for assaulting a transvestite. Can you give us details of what happened?
DB: Well, it had no reflection on what he was wearing or because he was gay. I beat him up because he was an asshole. That guy was going to get in a fight and he chose to get in one with me. The interesting thing for the headline was I was the guy from The Partridge Family, and he was the guy in the miniskirt.
GH: It had nothing to do with the fact that he was gay?
DB: No, of course not. When I picked him up, I thought he was a girl. I picked him up, he got in my car. As soon as he got in and the dome light hit him, it was obvious. He wasn’t a good transvestite. If he was a good transvestite, I might never had known. I was wasted. He gets in the car and I said, “Oh, sorry, wrong car.” And he says, “Well you took me off my corner, give me $40.00.” I said “Dude, wrong car, hop out!” This went on for 6 or 7 minutes and he still wouldn’t get out. So I get out of the car, opened his door and pulled him out of the car. But when I did, I see he’s this huge guy, about 220 lbs. I weighed 150lbs! I attacked him first, not because I wanted to, I just thought I was going to have to and I’m too small to take the punishment from a 220 lb. man. If he had hit first, I would have gone down and stayed down. So I attacked him and it turned into a fight.
GH: Speaking of fights, you and Donny Osmond had a fight.
DB: Yes we did – same reason. I thought he was a girl. (Laughs)
GH: How did that come about?
DB: It was wacky disc jockey stuff. It didn’t need to go that far, although we’re both glad it did because it made a big comeback in both our careers. But moreso for him. We were at the gym and there were mirrors on the wall. I was looking at myself and all of a sudden I hear, “What a poser!” I turn around and it was Donny Osmond. It cracked me up because I didn’t know Donny. I hear someone slam me, and I turned around and it was Donny Osmond – now that’s funny! So I knew he was going on my friend’s radio show that day and I said, “You got to tell him about this. Make fun of me. It’ll be really funny because I followed that show.” So, I’m on my way to work and listening to the show and he’s telling the story just like I told him to do. And then the disc jockey said, “You could kick his ass, couldn’t you?” And Donny says, “Yeah! I could!” then it escalated from there into a boxing match. And I’m thinking, “Don’t get into this – this is going to be really stupid. This disc jockey is leading you down a stupid path. Get out of this.” And he didn’t.
GH: Where did the fight take place?
DB: It was in Chicago at the China Club. Everyone said I kicked Osmond’s ass, but the truth of the matter is I barely squeaked out a victory. Donny was in great shape and did not mind getting hit.
GH: I heard he knocked off your headgear a couple of times.
DB: Like four times! The thing is, it was sponsored by Everlast and they sent us everything - our gloves, our trunks - including the head gear. But the head gear is for children who are studying boxing and didn’t fit. There was no chin strap, so anytime you’d get hit it would fall off. Donny went out and got a trainer and studied boxing. In any real boxing match, I would have been disqualified because of the head gear thing. I think, in points, he may have hit me more times but I did more damage and, at the end of the third round, he ran away, and that’s no good way to win a fight.
GH: You and David both had TV Movies within a few months of each other. Was there any kind of rivalry?
DB: This is so funny! My movie was on a Saturday night, which is the worst night of the week for movies. And his was on a Sunday night which is considered the best night of the week for TV movies, and mine still kicked his ass! But I was home watching TV one night and Access Hollywood comes on and says, “Our top story tonight: The Partridge Family Feud!” And they talked about our two movies. So I called David, thinking I was really funny and I said “Hey are we feuding?” He never called me back! We’re possibly feuding – or he’s just really busy.
GH: Both TV movies portray Susan Dey as being this wimpy love-struck school girl, always pining for David. Why was she represented that way?
DB: I have no idea because I don’t have any recollection of that at all. Not only do I not recall that but in my movie – and I call it my movie ONLY because I got paid $100,000 to do nothing – David comes across as an incredible bitch and I don’t remember him like that.
GH: Was your Dad portrayed correctly?
DB: The only thing I took exception to was the portrayal of my father. And it’s funny, because there are people I love in that movie and I didn’t really care. My Dad, I don’t particularly care about. But I happened to walk on the set one day at the wrong time to say "if you do that, we’re going to have a huge problem". They made my dad out to be a common drunk. So they took out all the scenes of him actually sipping the drink to make me happy.
GH: I was happy to see them portray your Mother in a positive light because she’s an incredibly lovely, caring lady.
DB: Yes, she is. I think the writer of the movie knows that I love and care about my Mom more than almost anyone else. I think that he misconstrued the fact that I don’t care for my father, as that I wouldn’t care about him. So he made sure that my Mom was treated well but he didn’t think that I would have any feelings about the way my Dad was portrayed either way, and I did.
GH: Did you receive any feedback from any of the other cast members about the way they were portrayed? Have you heard from Shirley?
DB: Nope. I did some photo shoot with her after it was on and, if I remember right, she didn’t know it was on.
GH: Did you see David’s movie?
DB: No. I went to watch it and my satellite dish wasn’t working right and I was picking up east coast feeds, so when I went to watch it, it was already over. That’s the truth.
GH: How often do you see the other cast members? When did you see Susan last?
DB: I ran into her once last year, but other than that, I hadn’t seen her in 20 years. Shirley and I did The Drew Carey Show together.
GH: What do you think about Susan’s refusal to talk about The Partridge Family?
DB: I think it’s stupid. I think it doesn’t serve her. It was great. How can you not want to talk about it? What is she gaining by not talking about it? What’s her point?
GH: How do you feel, 30 years later, still being thought of as Danny Partridge?
DB: Good. If people are thinking of me, I’m very happy.
GH: Well, your fans have certainly stuck by you. Do you have any friends that have stuck by you through thick and thin, too?
DB: Sure, my friend Scott. When Scott and I first met, sometime around 8th grade, I still had some Partridge Family money. So we hung out and spent a whole lot of money for a few years. Then one day I was out of money. And I had a LOT of friends when I had a lot of money. But one day my accountant called and said, “You’re out of money.” And I didn’t see it coming. And I turned to Scott and everybody else and told them I had no money, and they all scattered like cockroaches when you turn the light on. I turned to Scott, who said, “Well I haven’t spent any in about 4 years because I’ve been spending yours! Let’s spend mine now!” So literally, Scott is my closest friend. As a matter of fact, I lived at his house when I was homeless – before I lived in my car. I remember when I sold my house and, in a moment of lucidity, I gave him my checkbook and power of attorney. I said, “Please take this money or I’m going to either OD or spend it all.” We made that $23,000 last a loooong time!
GH: Did you ever feel like, “This is it. I’m going to die”?
GH: What turned you around?
DB: I was living in the Hollywood Hills motel and somehow my Mom found out where I was. I had a really bad drug habit at this point. I was so addicted to smoking crack that I could no longer wait for the pipe to cool down. So I had giant burns on my fingers and lips because I would pick up a red-hot pipe and stick it in my mouth. And I would literally hear the searing of flesh burning. It was awful. My mouth looked like a pumpkin at Halloween. So my Mom knocks on the door, and I know what I look like, and I’m so bummed that she’s there. It was an uncomfortable visit because we’re both trying to act like nothing is wrong. So she finally left, and I went back to my drugs and there’s this knock on the door and it’s her again. And she said “I just wanted you to know that I love you.” And I made some comment and went to shut the door and she stuck her foot in the door. I said, “What?!” And she said, “No, it’s important that you know that I love you, because you’re going to die really soon. And as your mother, I want to know that the last thing I told you before you died, was I Love You.” So she leaves and I went back to get my drugs that I hid behind the medicine chest. And I looked in the mirror and there I am, 110 – 115 pounds, all these burns all over me, my hair is ratty, and I thought, “Oh my God. She’s right. I’m dying.” So I moved in with her. And now I’m fat and sassy!
GH: How did your talk show, Danny! come about?
DB: Horribly! Jon Denny, my business partner – who my family hates – thought I was funny and needed my own talk show. So he took me to Disney, and convinced them too. God bless them.
GH: Dave Madden told us that there was a laundry list of things you could and couldn’t say on the show – was that difficult to adhere to?
DB: Yes. But I think Disney gets a bad rap. I don’t think it was hard because Disney said so, I think the genre of daytime TV is a difficult one. Especially at the time, because they were all coming under attack because of the Jerry Springer show. I once had a woman on who had 78 body piercings. I made a comment about them and she got all offended. I said, “Hey listen lady, you’re on my talk show to express your opinion but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to express mine!” The audience erupts in applause, and then I get called into the control room and they told me it sounded like I was beating up the guests. I said “What are you talking about? She was crazy and I got a huge applause.” But it’s geared for women and you don’t want it to sound as if you are being mean to a woman. So there is a whole set of circumstances that makes it difficult, not just Disney. It didn’t help that there was a Senate subcommittee investigating TV talk shows because guests were killing each other, either.
GH: After growing up as a child star, what would you say to your daughter Isabella if she tells you she wants to act?
DB: Isabella’s already got 20Gs in the bank from acting. She was the Cheerios kid, and Pepcid AC, and some other stuff. I think it’s great.
GH: Would you worry about drugs being available to her?
DB: I’ve said this before, but the fact of the matter is the big mistake people know about me is I took a fair amount of drugs. OK, an UNfair amount of drugs! But I wasn’t getting high with the Brady Kids, I was getting high with my neighbor. I did normal things that normal kids do and it got out of hand. All I wanted to do was to get high. That had nothing to do with what I did for a living and I feel that possibly the best things that have ever happened to me – and that includes meeting my wife – happened to me because I was the kid who used to be on The Partridge Family. And if my daughter wants to get into acting, I would highly recommend she gets into it – right after med school! But I would not dissuade her from doing anything that has been so kind to me.
GH: What would you say to your daughter if she fell into drugs?
DB: I would tell her the normal parenting things.
GH: Is she aware of your past?
DB: I went to pick her up from school one day and apparently the VH-1 or E! specials had been on. Either she saw them or someone at school saw them and told her about them. And loudly – in a group of people, she asks, “Daddy! Have you really been to jail?” And I started to say the truth – No. The fact of the matter is I have been arrested, but always bailed out and never got convicted. But I stopped because that wasn’t what she wanted to know. The answer to her question – semantics aside – was Yes. So I said, “Yes, honey. Daddy has been to jail.” She said, “Why?” And I said, “Because Daddy used to take drugs.” Then, without a moment’s hesitation and with a big smile on her face, she says, “Drugs are bad. Drugs are dangerous.” So she knows. I don’t think I’m going to have to tell her.
GH: Do you enjoy radio in LA?
DB: I enjoy radio in general. It’s the best job I ever, ever had. It’s the only job in show business where (A.) I make real money, and (B.) that I have control over.
GH: Would you do TV again?
DB: I happen to have another television show and it starts in September, 2001. It’s called, The Other View. Dick Clark and I are the hosts of the daytime talk show. It’s pretty much like The View but on steroids.
GH: Dick Clark has been a friend of your family for a long time.
DB: Since I was born. My grandfather gave him his first job.
GH: Will the talk show have more serious topics than the ones on your radio show?
DB: Oh, by far. First of all, people who can speak in full-blown sentences might enjoy the TV show.
GH: Gretchen has started singing with bands. In fact. we had a great time seeing her sing while you played bass on stage at an Oscar party. Will she continue to pursue that?
DB: Oh, yeah. She loves to sing.
GH: Will you continue to play with her?
DB: If it makes her happy, sure. As long as it doesn’t detract from her performance, because she is far better at singing than anything I do. She’s a spectacular singer. So I wouldn’t want to detract from her.
GH: And Congratulations are in order - you’re expecting another child.
DB: Thank you! We’re having a boy. We’re going to call him Dante, which is my real name. His full name will be Count Dante Jean Michel Bonaduce.
GH: What will you do as a father that your own father neglected to do with you and your other brothers?
DB: Almost everything. I will be there for them both. I will always care about what they care about. My wife told me that I am the best father she has ever seen, and that meant a lot to me. The thing about being a good Dad is there isn’t any effort in being a good Dad. It’s unconditional.
www.cmongethappy.com would like to give their heartfelt thanks to the following passengers for their contributions to this interview: Gilmore Rizzo, Betty Bonaduce, Gretchen Bonaduce, Ramon Aninag, Steven Colbert, and, of course, Danny Bonaduce.
Stay tuned for our continuing series of interviews with cast and crew members as we continue to celebrate 30 happy years with The Partridge Family!
©2000 Gilmore Rizzo for
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