LOS ANGELES – Gretchen Bonaduce is opening up about her dramatic, headline-making marriage to ex-husband and former child star Danny Bonaduce.
In her new book “Surviving Agent Orange: And Other Things I Learned From Being Thrown Under the Partridge Family Bus,” Bonaduce details her explosive 18-year marriage to “The Partridge Family” actor while he battled addiction.
Gretchen recalled how she met Bonaduce in Nov. of 1990 while she was working for a company that put on events, and she booked a psychic to perform on his radio show. The two quickly struck up a romance and married the same year. When asked about her time with the star, Gretchen, 52, said it wasn’t all bad, but her ex-husband’s addiction issues clouded their years together. Danny Bonaduce is now 59.
“It was highs, it was lows and there was no in-between. He’s such a damaged person, and he was trying so hard. Like, he’d be sober for six months and he’d be all screwed up again, then he’d be sober for three months,” she told Fox News.
“So, it was just this roller coaster constantly of trying to keep him together. Eventually, I had to figure out that if I don’t get out of this now, I’m going to be in this position [again] in six months. And that’s kind of one of the reasons I decided that I should probably just cut the cord now."
Bonaduce credited Dr. Phil for giving her the courage she needed to escape the toxic environment move into a “stable situation.”
“It was just an exhausting way to live. We had so many great times as well. I mean, you can’t have a marriage for 18 years and not have a lot of it be great,” she clarified. “There were a lot of great times, but when it finally tips into it being more bad times than good times, that’s when you have to go, ‘OK this is clearly not working out.’”
While “The Partridge Family” earned five Golden Globe nominations during its four-year run, Bonaduce is convinced the hit show had a negative effect on the person her ex-husband ultimately became.
“Oh, I think it had a lot of impact. He came from a really rough home with his father in particular. He and his father had a very volatile relationship and Danny Partridge was probably the biggest child star at that time or one of them for sure,” she said. “I think that having the whole world love you, but your father doesn’t like you had to mentally screw him up in a lot of ways – and I just had so much compassion for him.”
Bonaduce continued: “I heard something one time that’s kind of true – that your emotional maturity stymies at whenever you became famous, and I think that’s true because Danny acted like a 10-year-old a lot.
“But, I think every child always wants their father’s approval, and that’s like the one person you always want to be proud of you and you want to like you. For him not to have that, it was really hard on him and that carried over into his adult life.”
She said Hollywood had a dangerous effect on a young Danny Bonaduce.
“You’re also exposed to so many things when you’re a younger child star – alcohol and drugs,” she said. “You know, they were being led into clubs at 12 and 13 years old. Just a lot of things that aren’t necessarily good for a child.”
Gretchen and Danny lived their lives in the public eye during most of their marriage and even starred together in the reality show “Breaking Bonaduce,” which aired for two seasons from 2005 to 2006 on VH1. The pair publicly split soon after, in 2007, and Danny appeared on “Dr. Phil” without Gretchen and said he agreed to do the show as long as “Dr. Phil doesn’t try and get us back together.”
It has been longer than a decade since Gretchen and Danny Bonaduce divorced, and she revealed that they rarely speak, which she says is fine by her.
“We really don’t communicate very often unless it’s about our kids. Our daughter is getting married in October, so we talk about that. And our son is almost 18, so we discuss things when it comes to the kids,” she said.
Gretchen is prepared for any backlash she might face from longtime fans of her ex's who read her memoir.
“I decided to [write a book] because I wanted to represent myself. He’s had radio shows and has been able to say whatever he wants about me – good things, bad things, some of them true, some of them not,” she said.
“I’m not going to let you hate me because of something someone else said that may or may not be true. So, that was kind of my motivation. He’s happily married again, and I’m so happy for him,” she explained. “I’m very proud that he’s gone on and hasn’t been in any trouble. I don’t want bad things for him. People are asking me if I’m writing a tell-all book, and I’m like no, that just sounds mean. That’s not my intention; that’s not where I’m coming from at all."
She added, “Even though the stories in the book are really rough stories, I tried to tell them with a sense of humor, and that’s kind of what I was going for, and I think I was able to translate that.”