Dick Van Patten

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Dick Van Patten
Van Patten in April 2010
Born Richard Vincent Van Patten
(1928-12-09) December 9, 1928 (age 86)
Kew Gardens, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1937–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 live in Sherman Oaks, California.

They have three sons, all actors: Vincent Van Patten, Nels Van Patten, and Jimmy Van Patten. Nels who is married to actress Nancy Valen 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 The Young and the Restless actress and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills regular 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]



Year Show Role Notes
1949-57 Mama Nels Hansen
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
I Dream Of Jeannie Grocery store manager
That Girl Mr. Morse
Arnie Walter Granscog / Walker
1971 Confessions of a Top Crime Buster Sgt. Nelson Higgenbottom TV movie
Great Performances Raymond
1971-1972 The Partners Sgt. Nelson Higgenbottom
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
The Don Rickles Show David
Hec Ramsey Earl Enright
The Crooked Hearts Edward, the desk clerk TV movie
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
The Brian Keith Show Jerry Mason
Cannon George Abel
Thicker than Water John
Adam's Rib Commissioner Hoyt
Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
1973-1975 The Rookies Fullmer / Waldon
1973-1983 Insight Jerry
1974 Banacek Donald Morgan
Chopper One
The Girl with Something Extra Morgan
Young Love April's Father TV movie
Ernie, Madge and Artie TV movie
Sierra Ed
Kolchak: The Night Stalker Alfred Brindle
Adam-12 Harry Curtis
1974-1976 Barnaby Jones Melvin Pearson / Merle Overton
1975 Hot l Baltimore A.J. Horn
Grandpa Max Mr. Unger TV movie
Ladies of the Corridor Mr. Humphries TV movie
When Things Were Rotten Friar Tuck
1975-1976 The Six Million Dollar Man Harry Green / Palmer
1976 Ellery Queen Billy Geeter
Ace Mr. Mason TV movie
Charo and the Sergeant Chaplain TV movie
The Love Boat (TV movie) O'Neil, the Doctor TV movie
Phyllis Walter
Maude Gordon Coleman
The New Adventures of Wonder Woman Jack Wood
What's Happening!! Mr. Claxton
The Tony Randall Show Myron C. Dobbs
1976-1977 Happy Days Asst. Principal Marvin Conners / Hunsberger
1977 Gibbsville Patrick Malloy
C.P.O. Sharkey Psychiatrist
One Day at a Time Frank
1977-1981 Eight Is Enough Tom Bradford
1978 With This Ring Alvin Andrews TV movie
1978-1984 The Love Boat Charlie Dillinger / Congressman John Whitcomb / George Hayes
1979 Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker Herb Thurston TV movie
1982 High Powder Tom Reed TV movie
1983 Too Close for Comfort Arthur
The Fairest of Them All Host TV movie
1983-1985 Hotel Frasier Pratt / Herbert Pitts
1984 The Hoboken Chicken Emergency Mayor TV movie
Finder of Lost Loves Alan Nettles
The New Mike Hammer
1985 Crazy Like a Fox
The Midnight Hour Martin Grenville TV movie
1986 Murder, She Wrote District Atty. Fred Whittaker
Picnic Howard Bevans TV movie
Combat High Principal
1987 The Facts of Life Frank Stickle
Eight Is Enough: A Family Reunion Tom Bradford TV movie
Rags to Riches Phil Johnson
A Mouse, a Mystery and Me Santa Claus TV movie
War of the Stars
1988 14 Going on 30 TV movie
1989 Growing Pains Nick Simpson
An Eight Is Enough Wedding Tom Bradford TV movie
Jake Spanner, Private Eye The Commodore TV movie
1990 McGee and Me! Graham
1990-1991 WIOU Floyd Graham
1993 The Golden Palace Taylor
The Odd Couple: Together Again Roy TV movie
Diagnosis: Murder Monty Emerson
1994 Burke's Law
Baywatch Henry / Sam
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Orphanage Worker / Santa
1995-1998 Touched by an Angel Eb / Jerry
1996 Maybe This Time Jack
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
2002 Another Pretty Face Levi Downs TV movie
The Santa Trap Santa Claus TV movie
2004 7th Heaven James Rodgers, Sr.
2005 Arrested Development Cal Cullen appears in Spring Breakout and Righteous Brothers
2006-2008 The Sarah Silverman Program Dr. Eddie Hackmeyer


Year Film Role Notes
1963 Violent Midnight Police Lt. Palmer
1967 The Secret Dream Models of Oliver Nibble (short) Oliver Nibble as John Acerno
1968 Charly Bert as Richard Van Patten
1971 Zachariah The Dude
Making It Warren
1972 Beware! The Blob Scoutmaster Adleman
Joe Kidd Hotel Manager
Dirty Little Billy Berle's customer
Snowball Express Mr. Carruthers
1973 Soylent Green Usher #1
Westworld Banker
Superdad Ira Kushaw
1975 The Strongest Man in the World Harry
1976 Treasure of Matecumbe The Gambler
Gus Cal Wilson
Freaky Friday Harold Jennings
The Shaggy D.A. Raymond
1977 High Anxiety Dr. Wentworth
1979 Nutcracker Fantasy King Goodwin (voice)
1981 Lunch Wagon Bernie Simmons (uncredited)
1987 Spaceballs King Roland
1988 The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking Greg The Glue Man
Going to the Chapel Rick
1992 Final Embrace Larch
Body Trouble Max
1993 Robin Hood: Men in Tights The Abbot
1994 Who Killed Skippy's Master?
Guys & Dolls Henry/Sam
1995 A Dangerous Place Principal
1996 For Goodness Sake II Game show host
Love Is All There Is Dr. Rodino
1998 Evasive Action Parole Officer
1999 Angel on Abbey Street Preacher
Y2K – World in Crisis Host Documentary
2000 Big Brother Trouble Captain Stacey
The Road Ahead Host Documentary
The Price of Air Mr. Rye
2002 Groom Lake Irv Barnett
2004 The Sure Hand of God Jamie Denton
Quiet Kill Frank Rubin
2005 Freezerburn Alan Merkel
2008 The Christmas Conspiracy Narrator Short
2009 Opposite Day Jack Benson
Sarah's Choice Pastor Smith Direct-to-video
2012 You'll Never Amount to Anything Grandpa Beck Pre-production


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