Eight Is Enough Patriarch Dick Van Patten Dies at 86

The beloved actor made several appearances on Broadway over the course of 38 years.

Dick Van Patten has died at the age of 86.
Dick Van Patten has died at the age of 86.

Dick Van Patten, the stage and screen vet known for his performances on the series Eight Is Enough, has died from complications related to diabetes. He was 86.

Richard Vincent Van Patten was born December 28, 1918, in Kew Gardens, Queens. He made his Broadway debut at the age of 9 in Kurt Weill's 1937 spectacle of Jewish History The Eternal Road, and would have half a dozen Broadway credits to his name before turning 13. He would go on to appear in the original productions of Paul Osborn's On Borrowed Time (1938), Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), and Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan's Mister Roberts (circa 1950), among others. His New York stage tenure, which ended in 1975 with Herb Gardner's Thieves, spanned 38 years.

A prolific television actor, Van Patten's first major role came as Nels in CBS' 1949 series Mama, inspired by the play and film I Remember Mama. He took on the part of Tom Bradford, the father of eight children, on the ABC series Eight Is Enough from 1977-81, while also playing Congressman John Whitcomb on the series The Love Boat. His many television appearances over the next several decades included guest stints on I Dream of Jeannie, That Girl, Sanford and Son, Maude, 7th Heaven, Arrested Development, Hot in Cleveland, and Family Guy.

On film, Van Patten had roles in the Mel Brooks comedies High Anxiety, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and Space Balls, as well as the original Freaky Friday, Soylent Green, and Westworld, among many others.

Van Patten is survived by his wife, Pat, whom he married in 1954, their sons Nels, James, and Vincent Van Patten, his sister, Joyce Van Patten, and his half-brother, Timothy Van Patten.