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Dick Van Patten, a name known and trusted across America and around the world, has been in show business since his first modeling assignment at the age of three. Few actors have had as rich a background as Dick Van Patten or have shown such versatility. Although perhaps best known for the popular role of Tom Bradford in the long-running hit series Eight Is Enough, his remarkable career has also included more than six hundred radio shows, twenty-seven Broadway plays, and thirty-five feature films.
A one-time child actor billed as Dickie Van Patten, Van Patten began working on Broadway at the age of seven, when he portrayed Melvyn Douglas’s son in Tapestry in Gray. He would appear in twelve more plays before reaching adulthood, and eventually, his roster of stage hits would include three Pulitzer Prize winners--On Borrowed Time; The Skin of Our Teeth, starring Tallulah Bankhead and Frederic March; and Mister Roberts, in which he played Ensign Pulver opposite Henry Fonda. Still other stage productions of note included The Tender Trap, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, and Don’t Drink the Water. Along the way, Van Patten worked with many American theater greats, including Max Reinhardt, Joshua Logan, Moss Hart, George Kaufman, George Abbott, Alfred Lunt, Elia Kazan, Martin Ritt, and Elaine May.
In 1941, Dick Van Patten and his younger sister, Joyce, made a joint film debut in Reg’lar Fellers, repeating their roles from the radio show of the same name. But Van Patten’s next important foray into films did not take place until 1968, when he appeared opposite Oscar-winner Cliff Robertson and Claire Bloom in the film Charly. His movie career would eventually become quite varied. In addition to taking supporting parts in the sci-fi movie classics Soylent Green and Westworld, Van Patten worked with Walt Disney Studios, starring in family favorites such as Gus, Freaky Friday, and The Shaggy D.A. He also became a part of the talented team of actors who worked with Mel Brooks. His first Mel Brooks movie was the 1977 Hitchcock parody High Anxiety, but perhaps his most famous film role was that of King Roland in the 1987 Mel Brooks sci-fi spoof, Spaceballs.
Despite Dick Van Patten’s long list of stage and film credits, he is best known as a television actor. In 1949, at the beginning of television, Van Patten made the transition from stage to TV by appearing in the award-winning series I Remember Mama, in which he portrayed Peggy Woods’ son Nels for eight years. From there, he went on to win regular roles on such TV series as Young Dr. Malone (1961---1962), The Partners (1971), The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1973---1974), and When Things Were Rotten (1975). Van Patten also had memorable guest parts on literally dozens of television shows, including I Dream Of Jeannie, Sanford and Son, Adam-12, Emergency!, S.W.A.T., McMillan & Wife, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Streets of San Francisco, Wonder Woman, Barnaby Jones, Maude, Happy Days, What's Happening!!, One Day at a Time, The Love Boat, Too Close for Comfort, Hotel, Crazy Like a Fox, The Facts of Life, Murder, She Wrote, Growing Pains, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Boy Meets World, and Touched by an Angel.
Of course, Dick Van Patten will always be remembered for his portrayal of Tom Bradford--proud father of eight children in ABC’s TV series Eight Is Enough. Running from 1977 to 1981, the show struck a chord with viewers, and the Bradfords became one of America’s most-beloved TV families. Dick Van Patten’s fun-loving yet sensitive portrayal of Tom Bradford later earned him a ranking in TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.” Although the series ended in 1981, Van Patten reprised his role of Tom Bradford in the 1987 ABC-TV movie Eight Is Enough: A Family Reunion.
Dick Van Patten’s career in the entertainment field has been so distinguished that he was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Yet his interests extend far beyond show business. Since 1989, Van Patten has had his own pet food company called Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc. Natural Balance makes holistic dog and cat food, as well as also having a Zoological Division that supplies food for lions and tigers at some of the most prestigious zoos in the country, such as the San Diego Zoo, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Illinois, and the Staten Island Zoo.
When he isn’t working, Van Patten can usually be found on his tennis court or at the beach swimming. He is also a horse racing enthusiast. Dick and his wife Pat, a former June Taylor dancer, have known each other since childhood and have been married for more than fifty years. They reside in the San Fernando Valley near their three sons, Nels, James, and Vincent.