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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 04:11PM

From Jody on Family Affair, 1960's to now he's been down a rocky road. And yet, he's a "comeback kid." He lost his co-star Buffy (Anise Jones) from a drug overdose when she was 18 years old, which was a wake-up call for him and where his life was going.

After Anissa's death, Johnny spent two years in Portugal as a volunteer Mormon missionary. When he returned to the United States, he had difficulty finding acting roles. He eventually enrolled at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications.

"In 1984, Johnny Whitaker married Symbria Wright of Reseda, California, a former talent agent.. The couple divorced in 1988 and Symbria later wed Johnny's best friend. After the collapse of his marriage, the actor went through a very dark period in his life. He told Roger Mullen of the Fayettevillle Observer that his divorce was "the precipitous event which caused me to lose faith in God and faith in myself and whatever else and kind of went to the dark side, Luke Skywalker. I started hanging out in bars and smoking and smoking marijuana and then going from marijuana to cocaine and methamphetamine and smoking heroin and losing three cars, four apartments, five jobs and a company that I'd started and ran into the ground."

In an interview with Nicki Gostin for Fox News (June 2, 2016), Johnny discussed those troubled years further:: "I started a business in Utah for my wife and then she turns around and says, 'I don't love you anymore and I want to marry the man who gave you your bachelor party.' So with that I lost my faith in God and man and the world. I didn't ever have a thought of suicide but I did the second best thing which was to drop into sex, drugs and rock and roll. That lasted about seven, eight years and then my family said you have a choice between getting clean and sober or getting excommunicated from the family."

That family intervention was the wake up call Johnny needed. He told Fox News that it provided the impetus for him to stay clean and sober for over 18 and a half years. Whitaker also discovered a passion for helping people recover from substance abuse. He became a certified drug counsellor and he currently runs the Paso Por Paso alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre. Paso Por Paso (Spanish for "step by step"is a non-profit organization for recovering addicts. It was founded by Johnny himself and provides support and treatment services in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

Due to his past behaviour, Johnny was excommunicated from the Mormon Church. In his interview with Nicki Gostin, he said that he now sings in his congregation's choir and is "working towards getting reintegrated."

He and Sissy are the sole survivors of Family Affair today.

My favorite role of his besides Jody in Family Affair was Tom Sawyer (1969.) He was one of Wilson Rawls top picks for "Where the Red Fern Grows." But the starring role ended up going to Stewart Petersen instead, both Mormons. (Rawls had been a convert to Mormonism as a young man, preceding his rise to fame with the publication of his first book.)

Glad for Johnny Whitaker he was able to get his life back together after his difficult life. Wonder if he's still a believer in Mormonism? Maybe it helps him to stay sober?

http://www.tvbanter.net/2016/08/whatever-happened-to-johnny-whitaker.html

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Posted by: csuprovograd ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 04:18PM

I'll never forget Little Johnny Whitaker's rendition of "I Know An Old Wady Who Swawode A Fwy" at our ward's Road Show back in the early sixties...

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 04:58PM

I would've loved to have seen that lol.

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Posted by: angela ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 04:30PM

I remember him from the TV special "The Littlest Angel"

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 05:00PM

Oh right. That was a darling movie.

I was ten when that came out. It quickly became one of my top Christmas favorites.

:)

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Posted by: lurking in ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 06:42PM

One of my outstanding memories of him is from a fun little movie called Napoleon and Samantha (1972). Saw it while staying at a beach house on a summer family vacation. Whitaker starred opposite a LION ... oh, and a cutie of an actress by the name of Jodie Foster. I wonder what ever happened to her!?!?!?!?!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/07/2017 06:44PM by lurking in.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 07:32PM

They starred together in Tom Sawyer too. She played Becky to his Tom. It seems they both had a contract with Disney for a time.

Johnny has said as an adult that Hollywood loves its children. But then kicks them to the curb once their useful is up.

His acting career was pretty much over by the time he reached adulthood.

He's had to pull himself up by his bootstraps instead of wading in the gutter where he was for awhile.

Perhaps it was his life 'outside of Hollywood' that saved him. Although I don't think his family telling him they would "excommunicate" him from the family was the right thing to do regardless of their religious beliefs.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: December 08, 2017 05:21AM

I think it's more that some children can make the transition to adult roles, but many can't.

To me, the term "excommunicate from the family" for a substance abuser is overly dramatic. Sure, keep your distance while the substance abuser is working things out. But no need to shut the door entirely.

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Posted by: Pooped ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 06:52PM

I ran into him briefly while I was working at the Eyring Science Center on BYU campus. He asked me a couple of questions about my job and what my major was. I worked in AV Services. I asked him what he was studying and he told me he wanted to someday be a movie director. Guess that is compatible with his degree in communication.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 07:36PM

So even when he was at BYU he still had dreams of making a comeback (of sorts,) in Hollywood, before he hit rock bottom.

Now he helps people turn their lives around in rehab because he's been where they've been and has empathy for them.

He strikes me as more real and more down to earth than had he stayed in Hollywood.

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Posted by: BYU Boner ( )
Date: December 07, 2017 10:46PM

What’s wrong with this scenario—a man has been hurt terribly. He seeks solace with substances and engages in self-destructive behaviors. He figures out that he needs to change things. He get the courage to change, and for his efforts, he is excommunicated.

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: December 08, 2017 06:30AM

Agreed. It isn't right on so many levels.

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Posted by: AFT ( )
Date: December 08, 2017 04:33AM

I ran into him in the bank the other day. Nice guy. We spent most of the time in the bank line talking about obnoxious siblings. He said his sister had never had a job and he had supported her her entire life.


Really nice guy though. You probably wouldn't recognize him... red hair goes grey!LOL Again. chatty, nice guy. I liked him. He's much younger than I am so I never had a crush on him.LOL

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Posted by: Amyjo ( )
Date: December 08, 2017 06:30AM

I have two red haired brothers whose hair turned gray by their 50's. Our dad was born with the same auburn red hair theirs was. For some odd reason his hair turned dark brunette naturally by his 30's. When his turned gray it started at the temples and worked its way up. Brothers went directly from red to gray.

Whitaker sounds like a gentle bear of a man to be caring for his grown sister all of her life. It isn't like he's rolling in dough these days either. He has to have a generous spirit to do that.

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