Eight is Enough and Charles in Charge star Willie Aames, now 48, was a millionaire when he was in his 20s and partied at the Playboy mansion. He’s now struggling to make ends meet in his post-fame life in Kansas. He’s on unemployment, and takes day labor construction jobs when they’re available. Aames is married with an 18 year-old daughter, and the former child actor is now so broke he couldn’t even afford to buy his daughter a dress for the prom. A lot of his money troubles stem from a project he invested $150,000 in last year that fell through. His wife suffers from the auto-immune disease lupus, and her high medical bills and the cost of medication also contributed to the family’s debt. Like a lot of people struggling in today’s economy, Aames filed for bankruptcy, had his car repossessed and may lose his home.
Willie Aames… is now virtually penniless. He’s had his jeep repossessed, stands to lose his home and has filed for bankruptcy…
Willie is so down on his luck, he couldn’t even afford a present for his daughter Harleigh’s 18th birthday, he told The Enquirer in an exclusive interview.
“What’s worse is that she had to buy her own prom dress last year,” said Willie. “That killed me!”
Willie says the past 2 1/2 years have been “absolute hell” for him and his family. “There were times when we had so little money that we actually had to make a choice between groceries or medication for my wife Maylo, who has lupus.”
Willie took a big financial gamble by investing in a Canadian adventure and hunting TV show called “MacMillan River Adventures” on the Outdoor Channel last year, sinking $150,000 into the project. He lost every penny.
Willie, who played Tommy Bradford on “Eight is Enough,” then took out a second mortgage on his home but quickly fell behind on the payments. He said he was unemployed until his recent gig on “Celebrity Fit Club.” But he only earned $14,000 for his role.
So, the actor says he’s been taking day labor jobs to put food on the table.
“I’ve never shied away from an honest day’s work,” he maintained.
Willie did everything from hanging drywall, sanding ceilings and digging sump pumps.
“It wasn’t much money, but it’s what I had to do to feed my family,” he said.
[From The National Enquirer, print edition, August 18, 2008]
Aames says that Scott Baio was “set for life” after their show Charles in Charge wrapped, but that his money quickly dwindled down to nothing. He also was addicted to drugs and alcohol for 15 years, the Enquirer reports, and then got sober, became a born-again Christian and met his wife. Aames starred in the Bibleman videos as a Christian superhero from 1995 to 2004. He lost 19 pounds on Celebrity Fit Club in 2005, but has since gained the weight back. He lost the weight again on Celebrity Fit Club 6: Boot Camp earlier this year, where he won the individual prize.
About 1/2 of US bankruptcies are at least partially due to medical expenses, and the fact that Aames wife is probably too ill to work has surely affected his family’s finances. It’s a shame his adventure show didn’t work out, and it speaks to his character that he’s willing to do construction work and whatever it takes to help his family. I didn’t seem Aames on either Celebrity Fit Club, but Wikipedia makes it souund like he was particularly surly on the 2005 show and says he had a big fight with the trainer. Have any of you seen it and what impression did you get of Aames?
Aames told The Enquirer that his dream job is to work as a producer for Oprah. She might be interested in his story at least.
I hope things pick up for him and his family, and for a lot of Americans who have to make the difficult choice between food or medication, especially seniors.
Willie Aames is shown below in a still from Celebrity Fit Club 6: Boot Camp. Credit: tv.yahoo.com He is shown above with his wife in a promotional image for their joint book Grace is Enough which was published in late 2007 and details their separate lives struggling with childhood sexual abuse and drug addiction before they found each other and their faith.