‘Eight Is Enough’s Dick Van Patten Became An Animal Welfare Advocate Before His Death At 86

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The sprawling career of Dick Van Patten put him in hundreds of programs, from radio to TV to the big screen, across seven decades of working. Among those many projects, his work as Tom Bradford in ABC’s Eight Is Enough stands out as one of the most famously known. But what did the actor do after this iconic ’70s series?

New York native Dick Van Patten was born December 9, 1928, and not long after kicked off a career in the spotlight as both a child actor and model. By the age of seven, Van Patten was already ascending the stage on Broadway before heading for Hollywood in earnest. His intro to television came with the CBS series Mama, which ran from 1949 to 1957, though Van Patten’s own time there was interrupted when he was drafted into the Army; the actor was replaced by a man of growing fame named James Dean.

The many places featuring Dick Van Patten

WIOU, Dick Van Patten, 1990-91
WIOU, Dick Van Patten, 1990-91. photo: © Orion Televison / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Dick Van Patten’s resume includes dozens upon dozens of titles, including Get Smart, Arnie, and The Partners. From 1977 to 1981, he starred in Eight Is Enough as the family patriarch, a role that would become his most famous and enduring.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH, Dick Van Patten
EIGHT IS ENOUGH, Dick Van Patten, 1977-81 / Everett Collection

RELATED: ‘Eight Is Enough’ Cast Then And Now 2021

All the while, Van Patten was helping other actors establish themselves as he continued to build his own sprawling legacy. While the show was on air, he was the owner of Patten Place, a Los Angeles apartment complex that was easy to use for young, rising stars. One resident even included the Karate Kid himself Ralph Macchio. When Eight Is Enough was due to leave air, though, Van Patten was not informed. In fact, no one called him to tell him the show was canceled, so instead, he found out by reading the paper. What came next for him?

An avid advocate

Dick Van Patten and Vincent
Dick Van Patten and Vincent / Wikimedia Commons

Van Patten would continue to work to 2012. Along the way, he formed a family of his own, starting in 1954 when he married professional dancer Patricia Helon Poole. Together, they became the parents of Vincent Van Petten, Tim Van Patten, and Joyce Van Patten.

Dick Van Patten not long before his passing
Dick Van Patten not long before his passing / Photo Credit: Byron Purvis/AdMedia / ImageCollect

In 1989, Van Patten oversaw the creation of Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods, as a means to channel his love for animals. Then, he founded National Guide Dog Month; starting in 2008, the project put a spotlight on and directed money towards U.S. guide dog schools. The following year, Van Patten penned his memoir, Eighty is Not Enough: One Actor’s Journey Through American Entertainment. However, the profits from it did not stay in Van Patten’s pockets; instead, he put it all towards a good cause. “They were going to sell my book. I felt really chintzy, demeaning about it,”  he explained, “so I donated the money to Guide Dogs. It made me feel much better.”

Sadly, this legendary actor-turned-advocate suffered from complications related to diabetes. This would take his life on June 23, 2015, when he was 86 years old. His final on-screen job was a 2011 episode of Hot in Cleveland.

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The post ‘Eight Is Enough’s Dick Van Patten Became An Animal Welfare Advocate Before His Death At 86 appeared first on DoYouRemember? – The Home of Nostalgia. Author, Dana Daly

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