Aames is known world wide for playing Tommy Bradford on the 1970s television series Eight Is Enough and Buddy Lembeck on the 1980s television series Charles in Charge. Willie went on to star in 6 feature films most notably with Phoebe Cates in the feature Film: “PARADISE” as well as Co-Starring with Scott Baio in the feature film: “ZAPPED”. During the 1990’s and through 2008 he became a successful writer, producer and director working with such titans as “Sprint” “Northwest Airlines” and Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway/Helzberg Diamonds). A lover of the outdoors Aames hosted his own fishing series as well as spending 21 1/2 hours fighting a Marlin to win the world’s richest fishing tournament in Cabo San Lucas Mexico. From 2005-2007 he hosted his own Big Game hunting show on the Outdoor Network.
Aames began acting in the late 1960s as a child actor and appeared in shows such as Gunsmoke, The Wonderful World of Disney, Adam 12, and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. In 1971, he originated the role of Leonard Unger, the son of Felix Unger (Tony Randall), on the ABC-TV series The Odd Couple,
He guest-starred on various television series including The Waltons. In 1975 he co-starred in the series Swiss Family Robinson alongside Helen Hunt.
In 1976, he landed the role of Tommy Bradford in the comedy-drama Eight is Enough. During this period, he played in a band called “Willie Aames & Paradise”, where he was lead singer/guitarist. During this time,Aames appeared in his first movie role in Scavenger Hunt. After the series ended in 1981, Aames appeared in more film roles.
Before portraying the role of Buddy Lembeck in Charles in Charge in 1983, Aames played the character of Robbie Hamlin on the ABC soap opera The Edge of Night.
From 1983 to 1985, he was the voice of Hank on the cartoon Dungeons & Dragons. After the end of Charles in Charge in 1990, Aames hosted the game show The Krypton Factor.
Aames has seen his share of much publicized lows in life and in 2008 Aames personal determination and perseverance was the focus of VH1’s documentary “Broke and Famous” . A show that highlighted the catastrophic loss of Aames finances, home and family that eventually led to him sleeping on the streets as one of Hollywoods homeless.
Aames true character and inner strength pulled him through and against all odds Aames made headlines again when he taught himself the basics of finances and became a licensed financial advisor for a major U.S. mutual funds company. It was during this time (2010) that Aames was offered an entry level position as a crew member for Regent Seven Seas Cruises which he accepted.
Starting at the bottom as “Ping Pong Boy” and a shuffleboard court assistant – Aames personality and work ethic caught the attention of his superiors and within 6 months Aames had worked his way from entry level crew member to 3 1/2 stripe Senior Officer and head of the entertainment department onboard as Cruise Director for one of the most prestigious luxury cruise lines in the world.
A “Fairy Tale” Ending:
At the height of Aames fame he received thousands of “fan letters” each week from all over the world. It was Aames habit to draw one or two and read them. Inevitably the young girls that wrote him would request an autograph and attach their phone number in hopes of receiving a call from their idol.
Realizing that most celebrities would never phone a fan Aames decided to call. Aames drew (from over 7,000) a letter sent by a young girl named Winnie Hung who lived in Calgary, Alberta Canada…The odd thing was this was the third time Aames had drawn Winnie’s letter from the thousands he received. Aames called the stunned young fan and he spoke with her for just 3 minutes.. but it was 3 minutes that would change both of their lives.
Willie and Winnie became “pen pals” and stayed in touch by mail, phone …then email, Linked In, Skype and Face Book… for 28 years WITHOUT EVER LAYING EYES ON EACH OTHER OR MEETING IN PERSON… Finally last year when Aames learned he was signing off of his ship in Vancouver, BC the two life long friends agreed to meet in person for the very first time.
When they met on board Aames ship he fell instantly in love and knew this was the woman he had been waiting for his entire life… As he later put it: “his life finally made sense”. He asked Winnie to join him onboard his ship to travel the world with him.
They sailed the world together from the Mediterranean to the Baltics from Africa to Asia finally marrying 10 months later. “Proof” Aames says that fairy tales do come true: “If you refuse to give in to adversity, if you dare to believe in yourself, if you dare to open your heart and dream.. You can start over. Your life can be a fairytale”.