Dick Van Patten

Last updated
Dick Van Patten
Van Patten in May 2008
Richard Vincent Van Patten

(1928-12-09)December 9, 1928
DiedJune 23, 2015(2015-06-23) (aged 86)
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
OccupationActor, businessman, animal welfare advocate
Years active1935–2012
Patricia Poole
(m. 1954;his death 2015)
Children3, including Vincent

Richard Vincent Van Patten (December 9, 1928 – June 23, 2015) was an American actor, businessman, and animal welfare advocate, whose career spans seven decades of television. He was best known for his role as patriarch Tom Bradford on the ABC television comedy-drama Eight Is Enough .

American Broadcasting Company American broadcast television network

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is an American commercial broadcast television network that is a flagship property of Walt Disney Television, a subsidiary of the Disney Media Networks division of The Walt Disney Company. The network is headquartered in Burbank, California on Riverside Drive, directly across the street from Walt Disney Studios and adjacent to the Roy E. Disney Animation Building, But the network's second corporate headquarters and News headquarters remains in New York City, New York at their broadcast center on 77 West 66th Street in Lincoln Square in Upper West Side Manhattan.

Television Telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images

Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in color, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

<i>Eight Is Enough</i> television series (1977-1981)

Eight Is Enough is an American television comedy-drama series that ran on ABC from March 15, 1977 until May 23, 1981. The show was modeled on the life of syndicated newspaper columnist Thomas Braden, a real-life parent with eight children, who wrote a book by the same title.


Van Patten began work as a child actor and was successful on the New York stage, appearing in more than a dozen plays as a teenager. He worked in radio, on Duffy's Tavern . [1] He later starred in numerous television roles including the long-running CBS television series, "Mama" and Young Doctor Malone . Later, he would star or co-star in many feature films, including Charly , Mel Brooks's Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Spaceballs , and Charlton Heston's Soylent Green . Van Patten was the founder of Natural Balance Pet Foods and National Guide Dog Month.

<i>Duffys Tavern</i>

Duffy's Tavern was an American radio situation comedy that ran for a decade on several networks, concluding with the December 28, 1951, broadcast.

<i>Young Doctor Malone</i> US television program

Young Doctor Malone is an American soap opera, created by Irna Phillips, which had a long run on radio and television from 1939 to 1963. The producer was Betty Corday (1912–1987), who also produced Pepper Young's Family and later was a co-creator with husband Ted Corday of NBC Daytime's Days of Our Lives.

<i>Charly</i> 1968 film by Ralph Nelson

Charly is a 1968 American drama film, directed and produced by Ralph Nelson, and written by Stirling Silliphant. It was based on Flowers for Algernon, a science fiction short story (1958) and subsequent novel (1966) by Daniel Keyes.

Early life

Richard Vincent Van Patten was born on December 9, 1928, in the Kew Gardens section of the New York City borough of Queens, the son of Richard Byron Van Patten, an interior decorator, and Josephine Rose (née Acerno), who worked in advertising. [2] His mother was of Italian descent, while his father had Dutch and English ancestry.[ citation needed ] He began work as a model and actor as a child making his Broadway debut at the age of seven. He was successful on the New York City stage, appearing in a dozen theatrical plays before reaching his teen years. He later moved to Hollywood and began a lengthy career in film and television.

Kew Gardens, Queens Neighborhood of Queens in New York City

Kew Gardens is a neighborhood in the central area of the New York City borough of Queens. Kew Gardens, shaped roughly like a triangle, is bounded to the north by Union Turnpike and the Jackie Robinson Parkway, to the east by the Van Wyck Expressway and 131st Street, to the south by Hillside Avenue, and to the west by Park Lane, Abingdon Road, and 118th Street. Forest Park and the neighborhood of Forest Hills are to the west, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park north, Richmond Hill south, Briarwood southeast, and Kew Gardens Hills east.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Queens Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

Queens is the easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. It is the largest borough geographically and is adjacent to the borough of Brooklyn at the southwestern end of Long Island. To its east is Nassau County. Queens also shares water borders with the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. Coterminous with Queens County since 1899, the borough of Queens is the second largest in population, with an estimated 2,358,582 residents in 2017, approximately 48 percent of them foreign-born. Queens County also is the second most populous county in the U.S. state of New York, behind Brooklyn, which is coterminous with Kings County. Queens is the fourth most densely populated county among New York City's boroughs, as well as in the United States. If each of New York City's boroughs were an independent city, Queens would be the nation's fourth most populous, after Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn. Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. It is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States.



Van Patten's career in show business began as a child actor on Broadway in 1935 in Tapestry In Gray starring Melvyn Douglas. He was billed as "Dickie Van Patten" and went on to appear in twelve other Broadway plays as a teenager. He moved on to television with the role of Nels Hansen in the CBS series, Mama , about a Norwegian-American family living in San Francisco, in the early 20th century. It ran from 1949 to 1957. [3] In 1975, he played the role of Friar Tuck on When Things Were Rotten , a comic take on Robin Hood, created by Mel Brooks which also starred Dick Gautier, Bernie Kopell and Misty Rowe. The series ran for 13 episodes before being canceled. He was cast as the family patriarch Tom Bradford on Eight Is Enough , which aired from 1977 to 1981, and which was loosely based on a book of the same name by the American journalist Thomas Braden.

Melvyn Douglas American actor

Melvyn Douglas was an American actor. Douglas came to prominence in the 1930s as a suave leading man, perhaps best typified by his performance in the 1939 romantic comedy Ninotchka with Greta Garbo. Douglas later played mature and fatherly characters, as in his Academy Award–winning performances in Hud (1963) and Being There (1979) and his Academy Award–nominated performance in I Never Sang for My Father (1970). In the last few years of his life Douglas appeared in films with supernatural stories involving ghosts. Douglas appeared as "Senator Joseph Carmichael" in The Changeling in 1980 and Ghost Story in 1981 in his final completed film role.

CBS is an American English language commercial broadcast television and radio network that is a flagship property of CBS Corporation. The company is headquartered at the CBS Building in New York City with major production facilities and operations in New York City and Los Angeles.

<i>Mama</i> (TV series) television series

Mama is a weekly Maxwell House and Post Cereal-sponsored CBS Television comedy-drama series that ran from July 1, 1949 until March 17, 1957. The series was based on the memoir Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes, which was also adapted for the John Van Druten play (1944) and the subsequent film I Remember Mama (1948), and told the ongoing story of a loving Norwegian family living in San Francisco in the 1910s through the eyes of the elder daughter, Katrin Hansen. Katrin would be seen looking through the pages of the family album at the start of each episode with the opening narration:

This old album makes me remember so many things in the past. San Francisco and the house on Steiner Street where I was born. It brings back memories of my cousins, aunts and uncles; all the boys and girls I grew up with. And I remember my family as we were then. My big brother Nels, my little sister Dagmar, and of course, Papa. But most of all, when I look back to those days so long ago, most of all, I remember ... Mama.

Van Patten also appeared in episodes of Sanford and Son , Banacek , Arrested Development , The Brian Keith Show , Cannon , The Streets of San Francisco , Adam-12 , Emergency! , and Happy Days .

<i>Sanford and Son</i> television series

Sanford and Son is an American sitcom that ran on the NBC television network from January 14, 1972, to March 25, 1977. It was based on the BBC Television program Steptoe and Son, which had its original broadcast run in the United Kingdom from 1962 to 1965.

<i>Banacek</i> television series

Banacek is an American detective TV series starring George Peppard that aired on the NBC network from 1972 to 1974. The series was part of the rotating NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie anthology. It alternated in its time slot with several other shows, but was the only one of them to last beyond its first season.

The Brian Keith Show is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from September 1972 to March 1974. The series stars Brian Keith and Shelley Fabares.

Van Patten had numerous leading roles in motion pictures including Joe Kidd , The Snowball Express and The Santa Trap. He played the supporting role of Usher #1 alongside Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson in the film Soylent Green (1973).

<i>Joe Kidd</i> 1972 film by John Sturges

Joe Kidd is a 1972 American Technicolor western film in Panavision starring Clint Eastwood and Robert Duvall, written by Elmore Leonard and directed by John Sturges.

<i>Snowball Express</i> 1972 film by Norman Tokar

Snowball Express is a 1972 American screwball comedy film made by Walt Disney Productions and directed by Norman Tokar. The screenplay concerns a man who leaves his middle class job to run a hotel left to him by his uncle.

Charlton Heston American actor and guns rights activist

Charlton Heston was an American actor and political activist.

He appeared in several films directed by Mel Brooks, including High Anxiety , Spaceballs , and Robin Hood: Men in Tights , as well as cameos in the music videos for "Smells Like Nirvana" and "Bedrock Anthem" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, and on The Weird Al Show . [4] Van Patten played the role of Jack Benson in Opposite Day (2009), his last film.

He also was a commentator for the World Series of Poker from 1993 to 1995.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame honored Van Patten November 20, 1985, with a Star of Television marker at 1541 North Vine Street. [5] On January 12, 2008, Van Patten received a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. [6]

On November 1, 2009, Phoenix Books published Eighty Is Not Enough!, a book co-authored by Van Patten and Robert Baer in which Van Patten shares an 80-year journey of insights and anecdotes through the entertainment industry. He discusses his journey from his humble beginning in Queens, New York; his rise as a childhood star on Broadway during the Great Depression; working as an actor on the radio; the advent of television and his role in the second-ever live situation comedy Mama; a rough period between acting gigs; a rise back to the top that led the TV icon to the lead role on the popular hit show Eight Is Enough and subsequent roles in television and movies. [7]

Other work

An animal enthusiast, Van Patten co-founded Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods in 1989. Van Patten's creation of his own brand of dog food was satirized in comedian John Hodgman's 2008 book More Information Than You Require, and was re-branded as Dick Van Patten's Hobo Chili for Dogs. [8] He founded National Guide Dog Month which began in 2008 to raise awareness and money for non-profit guide dog schools in the United States, accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation.

Personal life


Peggy Wood, who played Van Patten's mother in the television program Mama, congratulates Pat and Dick on their wedding, 1954. Dick Van Patten wedding 1954.jpg
Peggy Wood, who played Van Patten's mother in the television program Mama, congratulates Pat and Dick on their wedding, 1954.

Patriarch of a famous Hollywood family, Van Patten was the older brother of actress Joyce Van Patten, and the older half-brother of film director and Emmy award-winning television director/producer Tim Van Patten. He was married to Patricia Poole (also known as Pat Van Patten) from 1954 until he died. She was a professional dancer on Broadway and a June Taylor Dancer on The Jackie Gleason Show , where the couple met. They lived in Sherman Oaks, California. They had three sons, all actors: Vincent, [9] Nels, and Jimmy. Nels, who is married to actress Nancy Valen, is named for the character Van Patten played on the CBS's Mama.

Van Patten was related to several other actors through marriages. His sister Joyce married actor Martin Balsam; their daughter is actress Talia Balsam. Talia's first husband was actor George Clooney, and she is now married to actor John Slattery. Van Patten's son Vince is married to actress Eileen Davidson.

Illness and death

Grave of Dick Van Patten at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills. Dick Van Patten 2.jpg
Grave of Dick Van Patten at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills.

In January 2005, Van Patten was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering a diabetic stroke. Van Patten, who suffered from Type 2 diabetes, made a full recovery.

Van Patten died at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, on June 23, 2015, at age 86. Complications from diabetes were the listed cause. [10]

Willie Aames, who played son Tommy Bradford on Eight Is Enough, called his television father "truly a gem [who] will be missed. ... As Dick always said, 'Remember our times together, gang ... Cause these ARE the good ole' days". Betty Buckley, Van Patten's co-star on the series, recalled, "Every day on the set he was a happy, jovial person, always generous and ready to play, tease, and always keep us all laughing. He was the consummate professional, a wonderful actor, master of comedy, and a kind and generous human being." [10]

He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.


On November 20, 1985, Dick Van Patten was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. [5] In 2008, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him. [11]



1963 Violent Midnight Police Lt. Palmer
1967The Secret Dream Models of Oliver NibbleOliver NibbleShort film; as John Acerno
1968 Charly Bertas Richard Van Patten
1971 Zachariah The Dude
1971 Making It Warren
1972 Beware! The Blob Scoutmaster Adleman
1972 Joe Kidd Hotel Manager
1972 Dirty Little Billy Berle's customer
1972 Snowball Express Mr. Carruthers
1973 Soylent Green Usher #1
1973 Westworld Banker
1973 Superdad Ira Kushaw
1974Heidi in the MountainsEnglish version, Voice
1975 The Strongest Man in the World V.P. Harry Crumply
1976 Treasure of Matecumbe The Gambler
1976 Gus Cal Wilson
1976 The Shaggy D.A. Raymond
1976 Freaky Friday Harold Jennings
1977 High Anxiety Dr. Wentworth
1979 Nutcracker Fantasy King GoodwinVoice
1981 Lunch Wagon Bernie SimmonsUncredited
1987 Spaceballs King Roland
1988 The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking Greg the Glue Man
1988Going to the ChapelRick
1989 Dirty Tennis HimselfShort film written by his son James
1992Body TroubleMax
1992 Final Embrace Larch
1993 Robin Hood: Men in Tights The Abbot
1995A Dangerous PlacePrincipal
1996 For Goodness Sake II Game show host
1996 Love Is All There Is Dr. Rodino
1998 Evasive Action Parole Officer
1999Angel on Abbey StreetPreacher
1999Y2K – World in CrisisHostDocumentary
2000 Big Brother Trouble Captain Stacey
2000The Road AheadHostDocumentary
2000The Price of AirMr. Rye
2002 Groom Lake Irv Barnett
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Himself
2004The Sure Hand of GodJamie Denton
2004 Quiet Kill Frank Rubin
2005FreezerburnAlan Merkel
2008The Christmas ConspiracyNarratorShort
2009 Opposite Day Jack Benson
2009 Sarah's Choice Pastor SmithDirect-to-video
2010First DogHimself
2012You'll Never Amount to AnythingGrandpa BeckPre-production
2016Silver SkiesHimself


1949–1957 Mama Nels Hansen
1958 The Silent Service HadleyEpisode Title "Tiger Shark". Executive Officer of the subject submarine.
1958 Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Paul Sterovsky
1959 Rawhide Matt Reston
1961 Naked City Carhop
1961–1962 Young Doctor Malone Larry Renfrew
1970 The Governor & J.J. Bertrum Bannister
1970 I Dream Of Jeannie Grocery store managerSeason 5, Episode 26; "My Master, the Chili King"; Air date: May 26, 1970; series finale
1970 That Girl Mr. Morse
1970 Arnie Walter Granscog / Walker
1971Confessions of a Top Crime BusterSgt. Nelson HiggenbottomTV movie
1971 Great Performances Raymond
1971–1972 The Partners Sgt. Nelson Higgenbottom
1971–1972 The Doris Day Show April's Father
1971–1973 Love, American Style Segments: "Love and the Tattoo", "Love and the Parent's Sake" (George), "Love and the Particular Girl" (Jack)
1972 Sanford and Son Hamlin
1972 The Don Rickles Show David
1972 Hec Ramsey Earl Enright
1972 The Crooked Hearts Edward, the desk clerkTV movie
1972 Banyon Earl Gifford
1972–1973 The Paul Lynde Show Dr. Willis / Wollner
1972–1974 The New Dick Van Dyke Show Max Mathias / Mr. Compton
1972–1975 Medical Center Dr. Feldman / Dr. Whittaker / Man at Hotel
1972–1976 Emergency! Carter Merkle / Morris Meers
1972–1976 The Streets of San Francisco Thurman Barber / John Collins
1973 McMillan & Wife Henry
1973 The Brian Keith Show Jerry Mason
1973 Cannon George Abel2x18 Murder for Murder
1973 Thicker than Water John
1973 Adam's Rib Commissioner Hoyt
1973 Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
1973–1975 The Rookies Fullmer / Waldon
1973–1983 Insight Jerry
1974 Banacek Donald Morgan
1974 Chopper One
1974 The Girl with Something Extra Morgan
1974Young LoveApril's FatherTV movie
1974Ernie, Madge and ArtieTV movie
1974 Sierra Ed
1974 Kolchak: The Night Stalker Alfred Brindle
1974 Adam-12 Harry Curtis
1974–1976 Barnaby Jones Melvin Pearson / Merle Overton
1975 Hot l Baltimore A.J. Horn
1975Grandpa MaxMr. UngerTV movie
1975Ladies of the CorridorMr. HumphriesTV movie
1975 When Things Were Rotten Friar Tuck
1975–1976 The Six Million Dollar Man Harry Green / Palmer
1976 Ellery Queen Billy Geeter
1976AceMr. MasonTV movie
1976Charo and the SergeantChaplainTV movie
1976The Love BoatO'Neil, the DoctorTV movie
1976 Phyllis Walter
1976 Maude Gordon Coleman
1976 The New Adventures of Wonder Woman Jack Wood
1976 What's Happening!! Mr. Claxton
1976 The Tony Randall Show Myron C. Dobbs
1976–1977 Happy Days Asst. Principal Marvin Conners / Hunsberger
1977GibbsvillePatrick Malloy
1977 C.P.O. Sharkey Psychiatrist
1977 One Day at a Time Frank
1977 High Anxiety Dr. Philip Wentworth
1977–1981 Eight Is Enough Tom Bradford
1978With This RingAlvin AndrewsTV movie
1978–1984 The Love Boat Charlie Dillinger / Congressman John Whitcomb / George Hayes
1979Diary of a Teenage HitchhikerHerb ThurstonTV movie
1982High PowderTom ReedTV movie
1983 Too Close for Comfort Arthur
1983The Fairest of Them AllHostTV movie
1983–1985 Hotel Frasier Pratt / Herbert Pitts
1984The Hoboken Chicken EmergencyMayorTV movie
1984 Masquerade
1984 Finder of Lost Loves Alan Nettles
1984 The New Mike Hammer
1985 Crazy Like a Fox
1985 The Midnight Hour Martin GrenvilleTV movie
1986 Murder, She Wrote District Atty. Fred Whittaker
1986PicnicHoward BevansTV movie
1986 Combat Academy Principal
1987 The Facts of Life Frank Stickle
1987Eight Is Enough: A Family ReunionTom BradfordTV movie
1987 Rags to Riches Phil Johnson
1987A Mouse, a Mystery and MeSanta ClausTV movie
1987War of the Stars
198814 Going on 30TV movie
1989 Growing Pains Nick Simpson
1989An Eight Is Enough WeddingTom BradfordTV movie
1989 Jake Spanner, Private Eye The CommodoreTV movie
1990 McGee and Me! Graham
1990–1991 WIOU Floyd Graham
1993 The Golden Palace Taylor
1993The Odd Couple: Together AgainRoyTV movie
1993 Diagnosis: Murder Monty Emerson
1994 Burke's Law Dr. Paul Hampton
1994 Baywatch Henry / Sam
1994 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Orphanage Worker / Santa
1995–1998 Touched by an Angel Eb / Jerry
1996 Maybe This Time Jack
1996 Boy Meets World Amish Farmer
1997 The Weird Al Show The Burglar
1998 The Love Boat: The Next Wave Sid Glacken
1999 Family Guy Tom Bradford
2002Another Pretty FaceLevi DownsTV movie
2002The Santa TrapSanta ClausTV movie
2003 Life with Bonnie HimselfEpisode: It's a Wonderful Job
2004 7th Heaven James Rodgers, Sr.
2005 Arrested Development Cal CullenEpisodes: "Spring Breakout" and "Righteous Brothers"
2011 Hot in Cleveland Lester


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