Dick Van Patten, known to children of the 1970's as the patriarch of the sprawling Bradford clan on TV's “Eight is Enough” died this morning of diabetes related illness. The actor was 86 years old.
Throughout the 1970's and into the 80's, Van Patten was a face of the era on both the small and big screens, regularly appearing in both mediums. In film, he was perhaps best known as the cowardly Dr. Wentworth in Mel Brooks' “High Anxiety.” On TV, in two of the great benchmarks of stature for the time, he was one of the most frequent guests on “The Love Boat” as well as featured in a recurring role on “Happy Days.”
But it was as Tom Bradford, father of the sprawling and ever-growing clan on “Eight is Enough” where Van Patten made his greatest mark, playing a hard-nosed newspaper editor raising what stands as the record holding biggest TV family, topping such jumbo sized clans as the Bradys, the Partridges and the Ingalls of “Little House on the Prairie.”
In recent years, Van Patten has been popping up in featured appearances on shows made by those who grew up with him in the living rooms, such as “The Sarah Silverman Program” and “Arrested Development.”
Van Patten is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Pat, as well as four acting children: Nels, Jimmy, Vincent and Joyce.
One of his TV children, Willie Ames, the breakout heartthrob of the “Eight is Enough” cast, this morning tweeted his sympathies.
R.I.P. My dear friend and surrogate father…. XOXOXOXOX the world will miss you…
– Willie Aames (@WAames) June 23, 2015