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. He later starred in numerous television roles including the long running CBS television series, I Remember 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 Awardwinning Charly. Van Patten is the founder of Natural Balance Pet Foods and National Guide Dog Month.
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. 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 Yorkstage, 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.
Van Patten (left)
Richard Anderson,Richard Roundtree,
in the documentary
miniseries,Y2K – World in Crisis
Van Patten's career in show business began as a child actor on Broadway in 1937 in The Eternal Road as Dickie Van Patten; he 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 I Remember Mama, which ran from 1949 to 1957, 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, 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.
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 1973 film Soylent Green.
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.
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.
On November 1, 2009, Phoenix Books published "Eight 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.
Van Patten played a role in the 2009 film Opposite Day as Jack Benson.
Main article: Natural Balance Pet Foods
Main article: National Guide Dog Month
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.
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.
In January 2006, Van Patten was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering a diabetic stroke. Van Patten, who suffers fromType 2 diabetes, made a full recovery.
In 2008, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.