Is Hollywood to blame? For even the healthiest young person, the combination of too much money and too much fame can be toxic.
Many of the child stars of “Eight is Enough” grew up to have problems with addiction or other mental health issues. ABC Network / tv.com
In 1977, NBC introduced the world to “Eight Is Enough,” a dramedy that highlighted the lives of the Bradford family. The televised one-hour weekly series starred actor Dick Van Patten as Tom Bradford, a Sacramento journalist and the patriarch of a family of eight kids. Given the tragic legacy of the show involving the addiction and/or deaths of half of the young actors, there could be an argument that eight was just too much. Four of the actors – Lani O’Grady, Adam Rich, Willie Aames, and Susan Richardson – ended up battling substance use disorders. Lani O’Grady, the wise older sister Mary on the show, died of a drug overdose in 2001. Despite the happy picture of ideal kids in a loving family, what actually happened was much darker than the rosy fiction.
In its five-year run from 1977 to 1981, “Eight Is Enough” was considered perfect for “family viewing.” It was a favorite of parents and kids across the nation, and I remember watching it in the den of our home with my mom and sisters. In June of 2004, the character of Tom Bradford was ranked #33 in TV Guide’s list of the 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time. Although he was a great dad on television, Van Patten could not be father to the young actors that worked on the show