Ah that famous last name … Bonaduce. Just about everyone immediately thinks “that little red-headed kid from The Partridge Family” … Fast forward a few decades and another Bonaduce has emerged to “make us happy” … Gretchen Bonaduce, the now ex-wife of that redhead Danny. Born in Waukegan, Ill., Gretchen grew up moving around the Midwest and abroad with her family. In 1990 stars collided and she met the former “Danny Partridge” in Arizona where they probably set some sort of record for shortest courtship (more on that later). She was blessed with two beautiful children from that 18-year union and along the way discovered she had quite a lot of “show biz” in herself. The marriage also sparked the now infamous Vh1 hit Breaking Bonaduce, which focused on the hardcore issues of her then-husband. In 2009, she competed for her own reality show (and won!) on another, uh, reality show! She’s got her own band, backed by members from the hit ‘80s group Bow Wow Wow as well as Ministry, along with many other entertainment ventures going all on her own. The gorgeous single mom allowed me to talk with her at her mansion in the skies of Los Feliz.
How exactly did you and Danny meet 23 years ago?
I was working in Phoenix for an entertainment company and he was a deejay on the radio. I booked a psychic on his show and met him there. We wound up going on this fantastic date that same day. We saw the Gin Blossoms and I made him pasticcio. I guess that won him over because he asked me to get married that day. We called a minister out of the yellow pages; he came over and married us in Danny’s living room. We relocated to L.A. after he got a job co-hosting a show on Star 98.7FM.
It’s been five years since the divorce. What have you been doing since?
I’m having way more fun than I did when I was married! (laughs) I have been producing TV shows. I have my own internet radio show and internet TV show. Since Breaking Bonaduce I had another show on Fox Reality Channel. Gimme My Reality Show was a competition where celebrities vied to actually win their own reality TV show and, magically, America voted and I won with my pitch of Re-Inventing Bonaduce. I based it around my life: my band, designing clothes and jewelry, being a single mother, and dating. I never thought I could win; I was up against Tracy Bingham from Baywatch, Kato Kaelin from the O.J. Simpson trial, American Idol alum Ryan Starr, and others. Not in a million years did I ever think that I could win. I made such a gigantic a** out of myself! (laughs) If people thought I was shocked when I won you should have seen Tracy’s face … utter shock!
How did forming your ‘80s cover band come about?
I’ve been singing my entire life in gospel choirs and a band I had during high school in Chattanooga, Tenn. When I married Danny it wasn’t a priority to me anymore. I was busy with the marriage, managing his career, and being a mother. Then when we did Breaking Bonaduce I needed to come up with things that just I did. So I joined the band the Muddflaps (with Chris Doohan, son of Star Trek’s James ‘Scotty’ Doohan). It was really fun, but we only managed to play out about twice a year. Because I love the ‘80s so much I decided to form my own band covering that era’s songs.
The Fatal ‘80s (formerly known as Ankh) plays a lot of events and casinos these days. What are your two favorite songs to sing?
“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure and “Voices Carry” by Til Tuesday.
You have made a number of appearances recently on Fuse TV’s Ex-Wives of Rock.
That show revolves around the lives of ex-rock star wives including members of Motley Crue, Warrant, and The Scorpions. I was instrumental in getting that show picked up in Canada originally and was supposed to be a full cast member, but that didn’t work out so I ended up doing guest appearances. I just filmed an episode for their second season that premieres in August on Fuse TV here in the U.S., Slice in Canada, and worldwide.
You also just wrapped an episode of Beverly Hills Pawn for Reelz Channel.
I’m trying to legalize the extra 2,000 square feet of my house so I went on the show to sell my gold and a few other items of interest. I can’t really say what they are because the show hasn’t aired yet.
How did you acquire your own radio show “Happy Hour with Gretchen Bonaduce’?
I was a guest on someone else’s show and then they offered me my own show! I’ve done about a half dozen so far at the Joint Studios in Burbank and love it! I always kind of thought I could do radio, I just needed the opportunity to try. I love that I can do whatever I want because it’s on the internet. I have a musical guest each week along with a bartender or club that comes in and mixes cocktails, hence the name of the show. (laughs) We do silly things and pet adoption segments as well.
You’re also on your own TV show via the web at soniccottagelive.com.
Sonic Cottage Live is sort of like Daryl’s House [as in Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates]on Palladia. Bands play and I interview local artists. Of course I have the Guitar Bar where I make drinks for the band. (laughs) I didn’t want to do a cooking segment so they let me do a drink segment instead. I figure since my shows are about bands, and bands drink, it made sense!
What you do with your down time?
Besides rehearsing with my awesome band, I love hanging out with my kids. My daughter [Isabella] is 18 and recently moved out so I mainly hang out with my son [Dante]. We go to lunch, for walks. In Germany when I was seven, my mother was pregnant again and very sick. She had the baby and that was the last I saw of her. I was told she died during childbirth. When I was 22 my grandmother mentioned that my mother actually “fell” in the hospital that day. I confronted my father and he said she fell out of the hospital window, but nobody seems to be able to tell me for sure what happened. This is probably one of the reasons why I cling to my children so tightly.
What is on the horizon for you?
I have a TV show pending at Warner Bros. right now about my tribute band so I’ve been pushing to get that picked up on a network level as well as other shows I’m pitching.
I love producing. I would like to appear on another show because being seen helps everything else I want to do like move my band forward. Ultimately I want to be behind the camera and produce shows.