In the late '70s, Willie Aames was a teen idol thanks to his role on Eight Is Enough. The sitcom followed a family with eight children, and Aames played one of the brothers, Tommy. Even before joining Eight Is Enough, Aames had a successful career as a child star, and he also continued to act after the series ended, going on to star in another popular series, Charles in Charge. But, eventually, the actor's path changed, and he took on a new career that couldn't be more different from being a TV star.
In recent years, Aames has opened up about his life in interviews, including the ups and downs he's gone through, his family life, and how he met his current wife after they had been pen pals for 30 years. Read on to learn more about what he's been up to since Eight Is Enough.
Aames continued working as an actor and musician.
Eight Is Enough aired from 1977 to 1981. During this time, Aames was also performing as a musician. "I used to do Eight Is Enough Monday through Friday. Play Friday night, play two different cities Saturday, Sunday, and then go to work on Monday," he told Studio 10 in a 2017 interview.
As for his acting roles, after Eight Is Enough, he starred in the movies Zapped! and Paradise, was a voice actor on the '80s series Dungeons&Dragons, and from 1984 to 1990 he played Buddy on Charles in Charge. Then, he took on another voice role for many years as the titular character in Bibleman, a Christian animated series, from 1995 to 2004.
He then became a cruise ship director.
In the 2000s, Aames left acting for nearly a decade and became a cruise ship director. In the interview with Studio 10, he said that he worked his way from a "ping pong boy" to working on "the most luxurious cruise lines on the planet" as a cruise director.
This change in career came after Aames fell on hard times, including struggles with drugs and alcohol. He told Studio 10 that he was homeless at one point. "The fact is I made my own poor choices and knew better in most cases," he said. "And I paid the price for it. I lost everything at one point."
He wrote a book about his journey.
In 2007, Aames and his ex-wife, Maylo Upton-Aames, co-wrote a book about their struggles with drugs and eventual turn to Christianity titled Grace Is Enough.
"The chances of Maylo and I meeting were so minuscule because while I was riding around in limousines and eating at the White House, she was sleeping in burnt-out buildings and eating out of trash cans," Aames told OK! Magazine in 2008. "To me, the important part is that when we did meet, we discovered that it didn't make any difference what our backgrounds were, we both understood the same emotional pain—we both knew what it was like to be a broken person. As a result of that, we really bonded and were able to break that chain of abuse, or that chain of lack of encouragement in our families that brought us to this point."
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He's now remarried to a longtime friend.
Since 2014, Aames has been married to his third wife, Winnie Hung. They were pen pals for 30 years before actually meeting in person. In the Studio 10 interview, the actor said that Hung had written him letters when they were both younger, because she was a fan. They ended up writing back and forth for years. When he was working on cruises, they finally met in person—and fell in love—when he was visiting Vancouver where she lived.
Aames has two children: one from his first marriage to Vicki Weatherman and one from the marriage to Upton-Aames.
He returned to acting after retiring from cruises.
In 2016, Frommer's reported that Aames threw in the towel on cruise ship directing. He reportedly wrote in since-deleted tweets, "I resigned from Viking (Ocean Cruises)… The Sea no longer calls… 🙂 #Gratefulbutoverit" and "Was a very nice experience over the last 8+ years… but time to let my feet take root…"
Since then, Aames has been acting regularly once again, primarily in movies for the Hallmark Channel.
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