03/27/2007 AT 7:40 PM ET
The latest Holywood trend? Non-death.
On heels of a false Internet report that comedian Sinbad was dead, Todd Bridges of Everybody Hates Chris found himself Tuesday assuring friends and family – including his wife and sister – that he was very much alive.
“There were all these calls about it, and for a half an hour no one could reach me,” Bridges, 41, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I was in (electronics store) Fry’s shopping and I had my cell phone on silent. I am just glad that my kid never heard it.”
Adds Bridges: “When you write the story, make sure you make it clear that I am alive.”
The rumor apparently stemmed from confusion over a New York radio report about Shawn Bridges, a truck driver whose drug addiction become the subject of a documentary and who recently died after a long illness. The rumor picked up speed when a gossip Web site reported the “breaking news” that actor Todd Bridges had died of a drug-related death.
In truth, the once-troubled teen star from Diff’rent Strokes says he has been proudly sober for the last 14 years.
“Todd Bridges IS NOT DEAD physically,” his manager and spiritual adviser, Bishop Ernest John, wrote to PEOPLE. “He just died to the lusts of the flesh about 14 years ago when he was baptized in Jesus’s Name and filled with the Holy Ghost.”