Johnny Whitaker played Jody, the freckle-faced, adorable orphan on the sweet sitcom “Family Affair, ” which ran from 1966 -1 971. Unfortunately, Whitaker strove as young adults with medicines and booze, but has been clean for close to two decades. The 56 -year-old sometime performer has a brand-new rage – facilitating prisoners and prison reform.
FOX4 11: Tell us about your work with prisons.
Johnny Whitaker : I’m doing a documentary on the Portuguese stimulant plan. Portugal has taken the narcotic question out of the Ministry of Justice and placed it where I believe it belongs, in the Ministry of Health. So a year ago I was working at the California State Prison Lancaster as a consultant helping inmates, we call students, return to real life and prepare them for that. We were in the prison doing that and ensure the way in which our prisons treat inmates and the road the United States prison industrial composite cultivates which is inhumane and unfair, extraordinary throughout the world. I believe we need to talk at other successful dope deterrent curricula, other than hurling parties in jail for a mental health problem.
Anyway in Portugal for the last six months I’ve spoken to government entities. I’ve interviewed mostly the medication czar of Portugal. I’ve been in a therapy facility and met with the patients there.
FOX4 11 : How did you get interested in this?
Whitaker : Well I myself am a person in long term improvement. I only celebrated 18 and a half years. For the last 13, I’ve been a drug and booze mentor and the last six been an advocate for change both in Washington D.C and Sacramento.
FOX4 11: You were adorable as a kid. Do you realize how cute you were?
Whitaker: Oh utterly!
FOX4 11: Did you want to go into acting as a kid?
Whitaker: I did not know that it was uncommon for small children to get up at 6:30 in the morning, be on the road at 7:30 and work at 8: 00 and be there until 5:00. I loved it, I enjoyed it. There was never a time it experienced forced.
Annissa Jones who was Buffy, my own experience with knowing her and her place – she didn’t like it. I do remember doing a Christmas show in 1969 in New York and they did not have child labor statutes in New York and we did a 90 minute special that we had to do in three days. We had to work from 8 in the morning till 3 in the morning. That was actual child endangerment and quite wrong and wouldn’t happen today. That’s the only one time I remember.
FOX4 11 : Was it hard to transition from child hotshot?
Whitaker: When I was 14 I was the starring of my own television series. I was an associate make, I was at the top of my play and stirring quadruple what my father made and I made a decision to leave show business to serve a duty for the Mormon Church and when I returned they would accept me again but they didn’t. That was very difficult , not to be accepted back into the brotherhood.
As a 56 -year-old man today I conceive I’ve do a lot of good. I still do acting activities here and there. I continue to act but it’s not my number one focus. I think it was Christopher Knight from ‘The Brady Bunch’ who supposed, Hollywood loves its puppies but once they became real adult bird-dogs they kick them to the curb.
I went to Brigham Young University University for directing and producing and unfortunately Utah, which I visualized would open their arms to me as being a brother, did not do so with my 17 years of ordeal and didn’t accept me so I went back to California. I type 110 texts a time, so I started working and had to survive with my wife.
I started a business in Utah for my partner and then she turns around and answers, ‘I don’t love you anymore and I want to marry the person who is 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 concept which ought to drop into sexuality, stimulants and rock and roll. That lasted about seven, eight years and then their own families said you have a option between get clean and sober or getting excommunicated from the family.
FOX4 11: Did that work for you?
Whitaker: It did thank god. It woke me up, gave me the wake up call that I needed and went clean and sober. And encountered a brand-new infatuation which is helping people in recovery.
FOX4 11 : Still a member of the Mormon Church?
Whitaker: Due to my wars and was married in the Temple I was excommunicated. It’s been a long superhighway for me. For a good 13 years I wanted good-for-nothing to do with God or religion. I’m currently singing in the choir in my flock and working towards going reintegrated. I know God adoration me and I’m a Christian and Jesus is my savior.
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