Actor Dick Van Patten, the man who became a superstar and household name playing the gentle father Tom Bradford on the 1970’s smash hit sitcom “Eight Is Enough” has died. He had been hospitalized for diabetes-related complications in the seaside Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica, Calif. He was 86.
Patten was born in Queens borough of New York City in 1928 and began his acting career while he was in single digits. Van Patten made his Broadway stage debut at age seven and eventually transitioned to television in 1949 with a recurring role on a comedy-drama about immigrants living in turn-of-the-century San Francisco called “Mama.” Van Patten career trajectory arched meteorically when he starred as the kind patriarch of the smash hit weekly drama-comedy “Eight Is Enough” 1977 to 1981.
Van Patten was also a prolific player in big-budget Hollywood films, most prominently with several Mel Brooks movies, including as King Roland in Spaceballs, the Abbot in Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dr. Wentworth in High Anxiety. He also appeared in the Brooks-created, Robin Hood–themed mid-Seventies series When Things Were Rotten as Friar Tuck, as well as in Soylent Green, “The New Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Westworld” and the “Weird Al” Yankovic videos “Smells Like Nirvana” and “Bedrock Anthem.”
Van Patten appeared in more than 600 TV shows, according to The Hollywood Reporter, including guest appearances on a slew of TV series including “The Love Boat,” “Maude,” “Happy Days,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Growing Pains,” “The Weird Al Show,” “Arrested Development,” “That ’70s Show” and “The Sarah Silverman Program,” among many others. He also played himself in Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star and an episode of CHiPs, the latter of which was titled “Dick Van Patten.”
“He was the kindest man you could ever meet in life,” his publicist, Jeff Ballard, said in a statement. “A loving family man. They don’t make them like him anymore.”
People magazine stated Van Patten is survived by wife Patricia Van Patten, to whom he was married for more than six decades, and three sons.