Monday, April 21, 2014
Here's '80s heartthrob Willie Aames in the cheesey ABC show Battle of the Network Stars. WHEW! I had a crush on him...
Aames shot to prominence on the ABC show Eight Is Enough, based on the real-life family of syndicated newspaper columnist Thomas Braden, who had eight children. Aames was just 15 when he got on the show, but was an overnight sensation. This cause immense friction on the show. Grant Goodeve, the 25-year-old muscular, handsome, hairy-chested hunky actor who played the oldest child on the show, was upset that he was beging upstaged by a teenage kid. Five actresses played the five middle children on the show, and they were angry that showrunners wanted to bank on Aames' sudden popularity and make the show about him. Eight Is Enough ran for just four years, despite its initial popularity. "Mom" Diana Hyland died after the first season, Goodeve and several of the actresses on the show decided to quit (making only irregular appearances), and child star Adam Rich (just eight years old when the show began) suddenly became popular as he became a pre-teen. The writers shifted the show to feature the precocious Rich, but that skewed things wrong and the show staggered to an end.
Three years later, Aames was cast on the syndicated sitcom Charles In Charge, which featured former teen heartthrob Scott Baio as a male nanny trying to keep a gang of wild rich kids in line. Aames played his wacky best friend, Buddy. The show ran for three years. By the end of it, Baio and Aames weren't speaking.
Aames admits to always being somewhat mentally unstable. He tried to hang himself when he was three, because he was jealous of the attention his old siblings got from his parents. He claims to have been sexually molested by an adult male when he was 11 years old, and that started him drinking heavily. (He revealed the sexual assault only in 2008.) Although his relationship with Goodeve was rocky at first, once the problem was solved and the show no longer tried to boost Aames' career, the two became friends. Although a decade older than Aames, Goodever started drinking after-hours with him. Aames says that by the third year of the show, he was abusing both marijuana and cocaine. He claims to have been high every day of the week except Monday, and could hardly remember anything.
When he was 17 years old, Aames met Vicki Weatherman, a beautiful brunette. They had sex, she got pregnant, and at the age of 17 he married her even though he barely knew her. His son Christopher was born six months later. When he as 18, Aames moved out of his parents' house and into his own home.
Aames claims to have made more than a million dollars a year in 1978 and 1979. He also says that when the show ended, he had no money left. He lost his house, and was homeless for a time.
Aames continued to abuse drugs and alcohol and was commiting adultery within weeks of his marriage. He divorced Weatherman in 1984. That same year, he met Maylo McCaslin on the set of Rocky Road, a cable-TV show in which he was guest-starring. She was the daughter of a gay back-up singer for Johnny Mathis who was repeatedly raped as a 'tweener by her hippie mother's boyfriends. Homeless at 15, she'd become a dancer and then actress on the soap opera Santa Barbara, and was now abusing cocaine and crystal meth. Aames went through rehab in 1984, and McCaslin in 1985. They he became a fundamentalist Christian, and was batpized and married on the same day March 1986. They moved to Olathe, Kansas, and in 1991 the couple had a daughter, Harleigh.
Unable to find work, Aames created a Christian character called "Bibleman" and began producing at series of Bibleman videos in 1995. He did a Bibleman live show and took it on tour until 2004, when he was injured during a performance. He got addicted to painkillers, which his wife helped him kick. Aaames starred on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp in 2008 and 2009. He also appeared in hunting shows broadcast on the Outdoor Channel.
But in 2009, Aames' life fell apart again. He'd sunk his earnings into skeezy investments and lost most of it. He was forced to declare bankruptcy, and in the middle of the proceedings his wife demanded a divorce. Aames allowed VH1 to film his bankruptcy auction. He lost his house and car. Aames moved to Los Angeles, rented a cheap room, and began drinking heavily and taking -- and abusing -- antidepressants and antianxiety medication. He attempted suicide by cutting his throat with a knife, but was so drunk he could not do it. He was arrested and hospitalized in the psych ward at the University of Southern California. He claims to remember nothing about it.
In 2010, Aames filmed a new special for VH1, Broke and Famous: Willie Aames. He claimed to have turned down a lot of job offers, and took a job in construction. His bankruptcy, he said, led him to learn a lot about financial matters and he wanted to become a financial advisor.
Unsurprisingly, within a year, Aames didn't become a financial advisor. Instead, he took a job as a cruise ship director for the Oceania line. In 2014, he married actress Winnie Hung.