Dick Van Patten

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Dick Van Patten
Van Patten in April 2010
BornRichard Vincent Van Patten
(1928-12-09) December 9, 1928 (age 85)
Kew Gardens, New York, U.S.
Years active1937–present
Spouse(s)Pat Van Patten (1954-present)
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Dick Van Patten
Van Patten in April 2010
BornRichard Vincent Van Patten
(1928-12-09) December 9, 1928 (age 85)
Kew Gardens, New York, U.S.
Years active1937–present
Spouse(s)Pat Van Patten (1954-present)

Richard Vincent "Dick" Van Patten (born December 9, 1928) is an American actor, businessman, and animal welfare advocate, best known for his role as patriarch Tom Bradford on the television sitcom Eight is Enough. He began work as a child actor and was successful on the New York stage, appearing in more than a dozen plays as a teenager.[1] He later starred in numerous television roles including the long running CBS television series, Mama and Young Dr. Malone. Later, he would star or co-star in many feature films including Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Charlton Heston's Soylent Green and the Academy Award-winning Charly.[2] Van Patten is the founder of Natural Balance Pet Foods and National Guide Dog Month.

Early life[edit]

Van Patten was born in Kew Gardens, New York, the son of Josephine Rose (née Acerno), who worked in advertising, and Richard Byron Van Patten, an interior decorator.[3] His mother was of Italian descent, while his father had Dutch and English ancestry. 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 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.[1]



Van Patten (left) stars with Richard Anderson, Richard Roundtree, Hugh O'Brian and Deborah Winters in the documentary miniseries, Y2K – World in Crisis.

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 and movies with the role of Nels Hansen in the 1949 TV series Mama, which ran from 1949 to 1957,[4] and as patriarch Tom Bradford on Eight is Enough, 1977 to 1981. 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. In 1999 and 2000, he costarred with Hugh O'Brian, Richard Roundtree, Deborah Winters, and Richard Anderson in the Warren Chaney miniseries, Y2K - World in Crisis.[5][6][7]

Van Patten had numerous leading roles in motion pictures including Joe Kidd, The Snowball Express and The Santa Trap.[5] He played the supporting role of Usher #1 alongside Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson in the 1973 film Soylent Green.[1]

He has 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.[8]

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

On January 12, 2008, Van Patten received a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.[9]

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.[10]

Van Patten played a role in the 2009 film Opposite Day as Jack Benson.

Other work[edit]

An animal enthusiast, Van Patten co-founded Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods in 1989. 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.

Van Patten in May 2008

Personal life[edit]


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

He is the older brother of actress Joyce Van Patten and the older half-brother of film director Tim Van Patten and the uncle of actress Talia Balsam. He has been married to Patricia Poole (aka Pat Van Patten) since 1954.

They have three sons, all actors: Vincent Van Patten, Nels Van Patten, and Jimmy Van Patten. Nels is named for the character Dick played on the CBS TV series Mama.

Dick Van Patten is related to several other well-known actors through marriages. His sister Joyce married actor Martin Balsam. They are the parents of actress Talia Balsam. Talia's first husband was actor George Clooney and she is now married to Mad Men actor John Slattery. Dick's son Vince Van Patten is married to Days of Our Lives and former The Young and the Restless actress Eileen Davidson. Dick's other son Nels is married to former Baywatch regular Nancy Valen.

Health problems[edit]

In January 2006, Van Patten was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering a diabetic stroke. Van Patten, who suffers from Type 2 diabetes, made a full recovery.


In 2008, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.[11]



1949-57MamaNels Hansen
1958Mickey Spillane's Mike HammerPaul Sterovsky
1959RawhideMatt Reston
1961Naked CityCarhop
1961-1962Young Doctor MaloneLarry Renfrew
1970The Governor & J.J.Bertrum Bannister
I Dream Of JeannieGrocery store manager
That GirlMr. Morse
ArnieWalter Granscog / Walker
1971Confessions of a Top Crime BusterSgt. Nelson HiggenbottomTV movie
Great PerformancesRaymond
1971-1972The PartnersSgt. Nelson Higgenbottom
The Doris Day ShowApril's Father
1971-1973Love, American StyleSegments: "Love and the Tattoo" / "Love and the Parent's Sake" (George) / "Love and the Particular Girl" (Jack)
1972Sanford and SonHamlin
The Don Rickles ShowDavid
Hec RamseyEarl Enright
The Crooked HeartsEdward, the desk clerkTV movie
BanyonEarl Gifford
1972-1973The Paul Lynde ShowDr. Willis / Wollner
1972-1974The New Dick Van Dyke ShowMax Mathias / Mr. Compton
1972-1975Medical CenterDr. Feldman / Dr. Whittaker / Man at Hotel
1972-1976Emergency!Carter Merkle / Morris Meers
1972-1976The Streets of San FranciscoThurman Barber / John Collins
1973McMillan & WifeHenry
The Brian Keith ShowJerry Mason
CannonGeorge Abel
Thicker than WaterJohn
Adam's RibCommissioner Hoyt
Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
1973-1975The RookiesFullmer / Waldon
1974BanacekDonald Morgan
Chopper One
The Girl with Something ExtraMorgan
Young LoveApril's FatherTV movie
Ernie, Madge and ArtieTV movie
Kolchak: The Night StalkerAlfred Brindle
Adam-12Harry Curtis
1974-1976Barnaby JonesMelvin Pearson / Merle Overton
1975Hot l BaltimoreA.J. Horn
Grandpa MaxMr. UngerTV movie
Ladies of the CorridorMr. HumphriesTV movie
When Things Were RottenFriar Tuck
1975-1976The Six Million Dollar ManHarry Green / Palmer
1976Ellery QueenBilly Geeter
AceMr. MasonTV movie
Charo and the SergeantChaplainTV movie
The Love Boat (TV movie)O'Neil, the DoctorTV movie
MaudeGordon Coleman
The New Adventures of Wonder WomanJack Wood
What's Happening!!Mr. Claxton
The Tony Randall ShowMyron C. Dobbs
1976-1977Happy DaysAsst. Principal Marvin Conners / Hunsberger
1977GibbsvillePatrick Malloy
C.P.O. SharkeyPsychiatrist
One Day at a TimeFrank
1977-1981Eight Is EnoughTom Bradford
1978With This RingAlvin AndrewsTV movie
1978-1984The Love BoatCharlie Dillinger / Congressman John Whitcomb / George Hayes
1979Diary of a Teenage HitchhikerHerb ThurstonTV movie
1982High PowderTom ReedTV movie
1983Too Close for ComfortArthur
The Fairest of Them AllHostTV movie
1983-1985HotelFrasier Pratt / Herbert Pitts
1984The Hoboken Chicken EmergencyMayorTV movie
Finder of Lost LovesAlan Nettles
The New Mike Hammer
1985Crazy Like a Fox
The Midnight HourMartin GrenvilleTV movie
1986Murder, She WroteDistrict Atty. Fred Whittaker
PicnicHoward BevansTV movie
Combat HighPrincipal
1987The Facts of LifeFrank Stickle
Eight Is Enough: A Family ReunionTom BradfordTV movie
Rags to RichesPhil Johnson
A Mouse, a Mystery and MeSanta ClausTV movie
War of the Stars
198814 Going on 30TV movie
1989Growing PainsNick Simpson
An Eight Is Enough WeddingTom BradfordTV movie
Jake Spanner, Private EyeThe CommodoreTV movie
1990McGee and Me!Graham
1990-1991WIOUFloyd Graham
1993The Golden PalaceTaylor
The Odd Couple: Together AgainRoyTV movie
Diagnosis: MurderMonty Emerson
1994Burke's Law
BaywatchHenry / Sam
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanOrphanage Worker / Santa
1995-1998Touched by an AngelEb / Jerry
1996Maybe This TimeJack
Boy Meets WorldAmish Farmer
1997The Weird Al ShowThe Burglar
1998The Love Boat: The Next WaveSid Glacken
1999Family GuyTom Bradford
2002Another Pretty FaceLevi DownsTV movie
The Santa TrapSanta ClausTV movie
20047th HeavenJames Rodgers, Sr.
2005Arrested DevelopmentCal Cullenappears in Spring Breakout and Righteous Brothers
2006-2008The Sarah Silverman ProgramDr. Eddie Hackmeyer


1963Violent MidnightPolice Lt. Palmer
1967The Secret Dream Models of Oliver Nibble (short)Oliver Nibbleas John Acerno
1968CharlyBertas Richard Van Patten
1971ZachariahThe Dude
Making ItWarren
1972Beware! The BlobScoutmaster Adleman
Joe KiddHotel Manager
Dirty Little BillyBerle's customer
Snowball ExpressMr. Carruthers
1973Soylent GreenUsher #1
SuperdadIra Kushaw
1975The Strongest Man in the WorldHarry
1976Treasure of MatecumbeThe Gambler
GusCal Wilson
Freaky FridayHarold Jennings
The Shaggy D.A.Raymond
1977High AnxietyDr. Wentworth
1979Nutcracker FantasyKing Goodwin (voice)
1981Lunch WagonBernie Simmons (uncredited)
1987SpaceballsKing Roland
1988The New Adventures of Pippi LongstockingGreg The Glue Man
Going to the ChapelRick
1992Final EmbraceLarch
Body TroubleMax
1993Robin Hood: Men in TightsThe Abbot
1994Who Killed Skippy's Master?
Guys & DollsHenry/Sam
1995A Dangerous PlacePrincipal
1996For Goodness Sake IIGame show host
Love Is All There IsDr. Rodino
1998Evasive ActionParole Officer
1999Angel on Abbey StreetPreacher
Y2K – World in CrisisHostDocumentary
2000Big Brother TroubleCaptain Stacey
The Road AheadHostDocumentary
The Price of AirMr. Rye
2002Groom LakeIrv Barnett
2004The Sure Hand of GodJamie Denton
Quiet KillFrank Rubin
2005FreezerburnAlan Merkel
2008The Christmas ConspiracyNarratorShort
2009Opposite DayJack Benson
Sarah's ChoicePastor SmithDirect-to-video
2012You'll Never Amount to AnythingGrandpa BeckPre-production


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