Dick Van Patten -- "Tom Bradford"
IntroTom Bradford, a columnist for the Sacramento Register and father, was played by Dick Van Patten who was born on Dec 9, 1928 in New York City, making him at age 48 when the show began.
Few actors have had as versatile and as rich a background as Dick Van Patten. With a remarkable career which includes more than 600 radio shows, 27 Broadway plays, 24 feature films and 7 television series (he has to do one more before he retires!).
Van Patten is still perhaps best known for his popular starring role as Tom Bradford in the long-running hit series, "Eight Is Enough" In recent years, audience interest prompted him to reprise that role in the top-rated television specials, "Eight Is Enough: A Family Reunion" in 1987 and "An Eight Is Enough Wedding" in 1989 both for NBC.
Van Patten has also been honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Before Joining EiEFew actors have had such a versatile background as Dick Van Patten. His remarkable career includes 600 radio shows, 27 Broadway plays, 24 feature films and 7 television series. Van Patten is best known for his popular starring role as Tom Bradford in the long-running hit series, Eight Is Enough.
Dick Van Patten, in a People magazine interview in April of 1997, said he was three when he started in the acting business and he was a John Robert Powers model, billed as Dickie Van Patten, and then at age seven, he went into my first Broadway play, playing Melvin Douglas's 7-year-old son. The play was at the Schubert Theater, and it was called "Tapestry in Grey." And that was his first play. He then did 27 Broadway plays in a row, so he was growing up in the theater. The shows include three Pulitzer Prize winners, "On Borrowed Time," "The Skin of Our Teeth" (starring Taullah Bankhead and Frederick March), and he played Ensign Pulver opposite Henry Fonda's "Mister Roberts."
Van Patten has worked with many of the great directors in American theater including Max Reinhardt, Josh Logan, Moss Hart, Guthrie McClintock, George Kaufman, George Abbott, Alfred Lunt, Eliah Kazan, Martin Ritt and Elaine May.
Van Patten is most proud of his association with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne with whom he worked with for four years in Terrace Rattigan's smash hit "Oh Mistress Mine."
As a child, Dick said he was never really the STAR. However, he always had important parts in the plays, and he also says it was thrilling to be working side by side with some of the biggest stars in the world, such as Tallulah Bankhead, Frederick March, Henry Fonda, Katherine Cornell, Kirk Douglas, Jack Lemmon, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, and the list goes on and on.
Dick also said that the parts when he was a kid were just as important as the star's parts. After all, movies centered around child actors like Shirley Temple, Jackie Cooper, Mickey Rooney, Margaret O'Brien. Those children and others like them played very important parts in films and plays, and radio! There were a lot of kid actors in radio then.
Dick made the transition from a child actor to an adult actor. His sister, Joyce Van Patten, was a child actress starting at 7 years old, on Broadway.
Dick and Joyce appeared together as children in 'Reg'lar Fellers' (1941), and, decades later, in 'Making It' (1971).
Dick Van Patten is also an acclaimed Broadway star. He received the Donaldson Award for "The Lady Who Came to Stay" in 1941. Among many theater credits, he co-starred with Henry Fonda in "Mr. Roberts" and appeared with Tallulah Bankhead in "The Skin of Our Teeth."
Two of his three sons, Jimmy and Vincent, both started as child actors at the age of 9, and were on TV series. His wife started as a child performer; she and her brother were billed as "the world's youngest ballroom dance team," when she was 7 and her brother was 9.
Dick went to Professional Children's School, a school that still exists in New York City, and he sat next to his wife in the 7th and 8th grade. It was a school where child performers could be excused when they had to go to work, and they could do their schoolwork by correspondence. Many famous child actors went there, and still do.
As a kid, among his credits were the soap opera "Young Widow Brown" as her son, the comedy "The Aldrich Family" as one of Henry Aldrich's friends, the children's show "Let's Pretend," and the popular sitcom "Duffy's Tavern" as the genius kid brother of one of the characters.
Van Patten worked on the shows based in New York, and knew little of those who performed on the West Coast. "In those days you'd do a show at 8 o'clock (is this eight thing recurring too much, eh?), then go to a movie and come back at 11," he recalled. The shows were done live twice, and the three-hour time difference made for long evenings.
Many of the actors who played his radio fathers eventually headed to Hollywood: Richard Widmark, Gary Merrill, Frank Lovejoy.
In 1949, at the beginning of television, Van Patten, whose radio career was going to end shortly, got his big break in the new medium of television when he made the transition from stage to television in the award-winning "I Remember Mama" series, portraying Peggy Wood's son Nels Hansen, for eight years, but it almost never happened.
The pilot script for the show was to turn the famous novel (and movie) into a radio series, but the show's sponsor, Maxwell House, had other ideas. Recalled Van Patten, "They figured it was a new thing -- why not do it on TV?"
It was a shrewd move. The series ran for eight seasons on television. The show gave his career a fantastic launch, providing tremendous visibility for the actor.
Van Patten was 20 when he got the part of teenage son Nels Hansen. He named one of his sons after his character.
The show was on for seven years every Friday night, live, until it went off the air on July 27, 1956, but a public outcry forced CBS to air it again for a short while with new episodes from December 1956 until someone finally said "eight seasons was enough" and the show left the airwaves in March 1957. He was 28 when the series retired.
Of course, he was already a veteran performer when the show went on the air on July 1, 1949.
"I was a child actor in radio, and there's not many of us left," he said. "From the time I was eight years old I was on almost every radio show there was."
So he made the transition from child actor into an adult actor on a TV series, and there was never a time when he wanted to do ANYHING ELSE! He proclaimed that it's been sheer excitement and joy since the beginning, at age 7, and he will always be grateful to his mother and father for encouraging him and getting me into the theater.
After his "Mama" series ended, Dick Van Patten continued to act on the stage. Also since then, he has made numerous guest starring appearances on almost every major television series as we shall see, and has starred in such series as "The Partners," "Arnie," "The Dick Van Dyke Show" as Max the boss, "When Things Were Rotten" and of course "Eight is Enough" and "WIOU"
In c. 1958, Dick Van Patten was a regular as Larry Renfrew on the soap opera, "Young Dr. Malone,"
In 1970, he went to Los Angeles to do an eight-week run of a play. "It was just an accident, I was never going to come out here," he recalled.
During the run he was offered parts in several series and "I never came back."
Although Van Patten's resume was as commendable as it was lengthy, the versatile actor never made a motion picture until 1970. He has since appeared in over 20 features, including Mel Brooks' "High Anxiety", "Spaceballs" and "Robin Hood Men in Tights" as well as having starred in seven movies for Walt Disney Studios in just over three years.
On May 26, 1970, Dick Van Patten guested in the TV Series "I Dream of Jeannie" (1965) playing "Market Clerk" in episode: "My Master the Chili King"
In 1971, Dick Van Patten was a regular in "Hec Ramsey", a regular in "The Partners" TV Series as Sergeant Higgenbottom, and appearred in the movie "Making It"
In 1972, Dick Van Patten guested on "The Streets of San Francisco" playing "Johnny Collins" in episode: "45 Minutes From Home", appearred in the movie "Snowball Express" and "Joe Kidd" and "Dirty Little Kid", and during the 1972-73 season, Dick Van Patten was a guest actor on "The Paul Lynde Show"
On Feb 7, 1973, Dick Van Patten guested on "Cannon" (1971) playing "George Abel" in episode: "Murder For Murder". Also that year, Dick Van Patten was a regular in "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" TV Series as Max for the final season, and in 1973, Dick Van Patten appearred in the movie "Westworld" and "Soylent Green"
In 1974, Dick Van Patten guested in the TV Series "Happy Days" (unsure of exact date) playing "Mr. Conners". Also in 1974, Dick Van Patten appearred in the movie "Superdad" On Feb 12, 1974, Dick Van Patten guested on "Banacek" (1972) playing "Donald Morgan" in episode: "Rocket to Oblivion", and on Sep 27, 1974, Dick Van Patten guested on "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" (1974) playing "Alfred Brindle" in episode: "They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be"
In 1975, things really picked up for Van Patten. On Feb 17, 1975, Dick Van Patten guested in the TV Series "S.W.A.T." in episode: "S.W.A.T.: Part 1 and 2". In the fall of 1975, Dick Van Patten was a regular in "When Things Were Rotten" TV Series as Friar Tuck. Also in 1975, Dick Van Patten guested in the TV Series "The Six Million Dollar Man" playing "Harry Green" in episode: "The E.S.P Spy", and appearred in the movie "The Strongest Man in the World"
In 1976, Dick Van Patten appearred the Disney movie "The Shaggy D.A." as Raymond. In the Fall of 1976, Dick Van Patten guested in "The Streets of San Francisco" (1972) playing "Thurman Barber" in episode: "The Thrill Killers", guested on "What's Happening?" playing a Bridgeburger director to 12-year-old Dee-Dee, and on Oct 13, 1976, Dick Van Patten guested on "Wonder Woman" (1976) playing "Jack Wood" in episode: "Beauty on Parade". Also in 1976, Dick Van Patten appearred in the movies "Treasure of Matecumbe", and "Gus" In 1976, Dick Van Patten appearred in the two-hour movie pilot of "The Love Boat" as as Captain Merrill Steubing. Van Patten also was tapped for the role of the father in the upcoming "Eight is Enough" series, of which he also starred in the pilot. When ABC picked up Enough and Boat, Van Patten was forced to choose between these opportune, male lead roles. The Boat role went to Gavin McLeod, who just bailed out of the retiring Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Dick Van Patten talked about his three sons. Two of them were acting in the series on TV. The other one had no desire to, and there was no jealousy. Of the two sons who did work, Vincent did work the most, but it never bothered Jimmy. He was always happy if he didn't get the part if his brother got it. In one movie that they shot in Spain, with Charles Bronson, Vincent played the part, and Jimmy was his stand-in. And they both had a great time, and they still talk about it. However, I can imagine that in some cases there would be jealousy, and that would be a shame.
During EiEHis casting in "Eight is Enough" in 1977 (and in several sequel TV-movies) gave his career a new boost. "I appreciate that (show). It made me recognizable," he said.
In 1977, Dick Van Patten appearred in two movies "Freaky Friday" as Harold Jennings, and "High Anxiety" as Dr. Wentworth.
On March 15, 1977: Based on Thomas Braden's book, "Eight Is Enough" premiered on the ABC-TV network.
Dick Van Patten gained immense popularity in American households for his television portrayal of Tom Bradford, a father raising eight kids, while working as a newspaper columnist for the Sacramento Register in the hit television series, "Eight is Enough."
The highly successful comedy-drama occupied Van Patten's talents from 1977-81, after which he reprised the role of Bradford for the series' two, sequel television films,"Eight is Enough: A Family Reunion," (1987) and "An Eight is Enough Wedding" (1989).
On January 12, 1979 Dick Van Patten and Joey Travolta were guests on "Donny and Marie", and on Sep 22, 1979, Adam Rich, Dick Van Patten, Susan Richardson, and who knows who else guested in "CHiPs" playing themselves in episode: "Roller Disco: Part 2". Also in 1979, Dick Van Patten appearred in the movie "Nutcracker Fantasy."
On February 26, 1980, most of the cast appearred in The Dinah Show starring Dinah Shore. The next day, February 27, 1980, Susan Richardson gave birth in real life to Sarah. Dick Van Patten is Sarah's godfather. And on Dec 7, 1980, Dick Van Patten, Laurie Walters, Susan Richardson, and who knows who else, played themselves (uncredited) in "CHiPs" episode: "The Great 5k Star Race and Boulder Wrap Party (Part 2)"
I have no details yet for what Dick Van Patten was doing during the years 1982-86 although I guess he went back to theater and did commercials, but may have decided to lay back for a while. Anyone help out please?
After EiEIn the summer of 1987, Dick Van Patten appeared in the Mel Brooks comedy movie "Spaceballs" as King Roland. On October 18, 1987, most of the gang reunited for Tom's 50th birthday on "Eight is Enough: A Family Reunion" on NBC. Mary Frann (Newhart) played Abby.
In 1988, Dick Van Patten appearred in the movie "The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking"
On October 15, 1989, the clan reunited again for David's second marriage on "An Eight is Enough Wedding" on NBC. Sandy Faison played Abby. Story: When one of the clan announces plans to remarry, there are mixed emotions among some family members who have trouble accepting the new in-law. I'm not sure about the dates, but I read that Dick Van Patten and Brian Patrick Clarke were guests in separate episodes of "Baywatch" sometime since 1989.
On Oct 24, 1990, through March 20, 1991, Dick Van Patten was a regular in the short-lived TV series "WIOU" as Floyd Graham
Dick Van Patten appeared in Weird Al Yankovic's "Smells Like Nirvana" and "Bedrock Anthem" music videos. No word if "Weird Al" was a fan of Eight is Enough.
In the summer of 1993, Dick Van Patten appearred in the Mel Brooks film "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" as Abbot. In September of 1993, Dick Van Patten appeared in the movie "The Odd Couple: Together Again" as Roy. And on Nov 12, 1993, Dick Van Patten guested in "Diagnosis Murder" (1993) playing "Monty" in episode: "Murder at the Telethon"
In 1994, Dick Van Patten guested in the TV Series "Baywatch" playing "Sam/Henry Krebbs, diamond smuggler". On Dec 4, 1994, Dick Van Patten guested in the TV Series "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" playing "Orphanage Worker/Santa" in episode: "Season's Greedings". And in 1992, Dick Van Patten appearred in the movie "Final Embrace"
In 1995, Dick Van Patten appearred in the movie "The Break", and sometime during the series run, Dick Van Patten appearred as himself in the CBS series "Cybill" starring Cybill Shepherd.
In 1996, Dick Van Patten appearred in the movie "Love is All There Is"
In November, 1996, Dick Van Patten was in Chicago at the Auditorium Theater in a role as Cap'n Andy, in the musical "Showboat".
In 1996, Dick Van Patten guested in the TV Series "Boy Meets World" playing "Amish Farmer". On Oct 25, 1997, Dick Van Patten appeared in the children's TV series "The Weird Al Show" in episode: "Because I Said So" playing himself dancing in a tutu. On Dec 6, 1997, Dick Van Patten appeared again in the children's TV series "The Weird Al Show" in episode: "Al Gets Robbed" playing The Burglar
Latest News About The Former Cast MemberDick van Patten remains in touch with his former juvenile co-stars from "Eight Is Enough?" He is the godfather of Susan Richardson's little girl, Sarah. Adam Rich, who played Nicholas, is now an assistant director at the Disney studios near his house, and he sees him frequently. In March of 1997, in Chicago, he was doing the play "Showboat" and Betty Buckley, who played his wife on "Eight Is Enough," was starring in the play "The Words and Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber." She came to see his play, he went to see hers, and they had dinner every night together. He still sees the other kids frequently, except for Grant Goodeve, who played David, who now lives in Seattle. And Willie Aames, who played Tommy, has his own production company in Kansas City and produces a show called "Bible Man," where he does guest shots for him occasionally.
When he isn't working, Van Patten can usually be found on his tennis court or at the beach swimming. He is also a horse-racing enthusiast. Dick and his wife Pat, a former June Taylor Dancer have known each other since childhood, recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. They reside in the San Fernando Valley near their three sons, Nels, James and Vincent.
Fall 1997: Dick Van Patten was seen in two episodes of "The Weird Al Show" starring Weird Al Yankovic on CBS Saturday mornings in 1997
An odd item I found on the Del Mar Racetrack programs for Aug 30, 1998. A horse that goes by the name of "Claim This Dance" is owned by Dick Van Patten, and trained by John Acerno; that day it was ridden by Fernando Valenzuela. The horse had a Red, blue and white "DVP" on back, white baron blue sleeves, red, white and blue cap.
From Missy off the Messageboard Oct 1998: "I've recently seen Dick Van Patten on 2 different episodes of "Touched by an Angel," and last season he was on an episode of the new "Love Boat."
On his 70th birthday celebration reported in a tabloid, it was known that Dick Van Patten still does commercial spots and appears in theater today.
Dick Van Patten was in the list of celebs who attended the Hollywood Collectors Show in North Hollywood on June 24 and 25, 2000.