Eight Is Enough, a series that brought laughter, tears, and wholesome family moments to households across the nation, graced screens from 1977 to 1981. Eight is Enough and its beloved cast became a hit on ABC and ran for 112 episodes.
The show revolved around the Bradford family and their adventures in navigating the challenges of living in a large family. It was a combination of comedy and drama and included 10 main characters: the father Tom (a columnist for a Sacramento, California newspaper), step mom Abby and their eight children: Mary, David, Joanie, Nancy, Elizabeth, Susan, Tommy, and Nicholas.
The kids all had friends and relationships as well, turning the Bradford Bunch into a free-for-all of loved ones and family members.
The show hit such a strong chord with audiences that in 1987 the TV movie Eight is Enough: A Family Reunion came out, followed by 1989’s An Eight is Enough Wedding.
Did you know? Ralph George Macchio had a reoccurring role in the last season of the show.
Eight Is Enough: Dick Van Patten as Tom Bradford
Dick Van Patten was the loveable, but firm patriarch Tom Bradford in Eight is Enough. Tom was a newspaper columnist and was known for his wisdom and practical parenting style, making him a beloved figure in the hearts of viewers.
Van Patten was born in Kew Gardens, New York, in 1928. He started acting at age 7 in his Broadway debut Tapestry in Gray. He then went on to star in more than 30 Broadway shows.
In 1949 he moved from stage to television in the series I Remember Mama, which ran until 1957.
He also had parts in various TV shows, including The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Happy Days, and The Love Boat.
After Eight is Enough, Van Patten continued on in film and TV. He appeared in several shows including Arrested Development, That ’70s Show and Hot in Cleveland.
He also acted in various Disney films, along with three movies directed by Mel Brooks: High Anxiety, Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. In 2009, Van Patten wrote his autobiography, Eighty Is Not Enough.
Van Patten passed away in 2015 at the age of 86. He died from complications of diabetes.
Did you know? Van Patten received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Betty Buckley as Abby Bradford
Diana Hyland played the original wife and mother on Eight Is Enough, but she died of breast cancer after four episodes. The series returned with father Tom Bradford a widower. Then he married Abby Bradford (Betty Buckley) who became the stepmother to the eight Bradford kids. Abby was a schoolteacher and she brought warmth and stability to the Bradford household.
Before Eight is Enough, Buckley appeared in the movie Carrie and the television show Ryan’s Hope.
She then became a familiar face on the weekly hit Eight is Enough. After the series, she had guest appearances in several shows including Cagney & Lacey, L.A. Law and Oz. Most recently, she starred in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Buckley also appeared in many films including, Split, Wyatt Earp and The Happening.
Most recently she returned to stage and led the national tour of Hello, Dolly!
Did you know? Buckley is a 2012 Theatre Hall of Fame inductee.
Grant Goodeve as David Bradford in the Eight Is Enough cast
David Bradford, the eldest son, was an aspiring writer with dreams beyond the family home. Grant Goodeve’s performance captured the essence of the oldest child in a big family navigating the challenges of adulthood and independence.
Goodeve was born in 1952 in Middlebury, Connecticut. He had bit parts in television shows including Aloha Paradise and Emergency!, but his big break came in the role of David Bradford in Eight Is Enough.
After the series, he had roles in Northern Exposure, Fantasy Islands and 7th Heaven. Goodeve was also the host of travel show, Northwest Backroads, for over a dozen years.
Today, he is mainly involved in voice-over work.
Did you know? Goodeve sang the theme song to Eight is Enough
Lani O’Grady as Mary Bradford
Born in 1954 in California, O’Grady’s came from an entertainment family. Her brother played one of the original Mouseketeers and he also starred in My Three Sons. Her mother was an agent who represented several child actors.
O’Grady’s big break came when she was cast as Mary, the second eldest Bradford child, in Eight is Enough. Mary was a responsible and caring sister and O’Grady’s performance made her a fan favorite.
Like many child actors, O’Grady had a difficult time handling fame. She had challenges with drug and alcohol abuse. She had a hard time getting roles, so she transitions from being an actor to be a talent agent, like her mother.
She died in 2001, at her home in Valencia, CA, just a week shy of her 47th birthday from a drug overdose.
Did you know? O’Grady was in and out of five rehab clinics after Eight is Enough. She has said, “I have a real hard time with people who have been successful in this business as young children . . . and [as adults] they are no longer wanted by Hollywood — and, yeah, Hollywood is not a user-friendly place.”
Susan Richardson as Susan Bradford in the Eight Is Enough cast
Susan Richardson was born in 1952 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. She had small bit parts as a child actor including The Streets of San Francisco (1972). Her big break was the role of Susan, on Eight is Enough. Her character’s role, the third eldest, navigated the typical challenges of being a teenager with the added complication of being a part of such a big family.
After the series, Richardson had small bit parts in television and films, including, Chips, One Day at a Time and Soldiers of Innocence.
She fell on hard times and had substance abuse issues as well as health problems. “I don’t want to complain too much, but I’ve had my share of problems,” Richardson told The National Enquirer.
Dianne Kay as Nancy Bradford
Dianne Kay was born in 1954 in Phoenix, Arizona. She played the fourth Bradford child, Nancy, who added a touch of humor to the family dynamics with her witty personality.
Kay appeared in several movies and television shows including 1941 (1979) and the television series Glitter (1984). She also had guest appearances in shows like Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, and Diagnosis Murder.
Elizabeth Bradford in the Eight Is Enough cast
Connie Needham was born in 1959 in Anaheim, California. Needham played the role of Elizabeth, the fifth child, on Eight is Enough, added a sweet and innocent charm to the Bradford family. Needham’s performance resonated with viewers as Elizabeth navigated the challenges of growing up in a large and loving household.
In addition to Eight is Enough, Needham appeared in Fame and Ellen. She also had bit parts in L.A. Law, Love Boat and Chips.
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and told Radar Online, “I was having a lot of bloating and I started having a little difficulty breathing to the point that I thought I had a lung infection. I went into that weird sort of shock where everything shuts down and you don’t hear anything else.”
She’s now raising awareness for early cancer detection and treatment.
Did you know? Needham married a set designer who worked on the show Eight Is Enough.
Laurie Walters as Joannie Bradford
Brunette Laurie Walters was born in 1947 in San Francisco, California. She began acting in television in films in the 70s. She played the role of the awkward and shy Sheila Grove in The Harrad Experiment and The Harrad Summer. She was also in the horror flick Warlock Moon.
However, she really came to fame as the funny but clueless Joannie Bradford on Eight Is Enough.
After the series, she moved to the stage and performed in dinner theater and plays such as Richard III and Playboy of the Western World. She continues to act and direct theater productions.
She’s also deeply involved in environmental work, including the Los Angeles organization Tree People.
Did you know? Walters is six months older than Betty Buckley, who played her stepmother on Eight is Enough.
Willie Aames as Tommy Bradford in the Eight Is Enough cast
Born in 1960 in Los Angeles, California, Willie Aames was a child actor, appearing in such shows as Swiss Family Robinson and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.
In the role Tommy Bradford, Aames, brought a mischievous and playful energy to the family. Aames’ performance captured the essence of a young boy growing up in a bustling household.
During his time on Eight Is Enough, Aames formed a rock band (Willie Aames & Paradise) and the band made several appearances on the show.
He’s had roles in film and television including the Bibleman series, Dave my Dad and Every Christmas has a story.
He met his second wife, actress Maylo McCaslin, on the set of Rocky Road, a cable-TV show in which he was guest-starring. He’s been married three times and has two kids. His son is also musically inclined and is in a rock band.
In addition to acting, Aames continues to perform musically. He has worked on various cruise ships as a singer and cruise director.
Did you know? Willie Aames dated his Eight Is Enough TV sister Connie Needham.
Adam Rich as Nicholas Bradford
Adam Rich played Nicholas Bradford, the youngest child on Eight is Enough. Nicholas was the adorable baby of the family and was a fan favorite.
In addition to Eight is Enough, he appeared in ABC’s Code Red and did voice over work for Dungeons & Dragons.
Rich died in 2023 from a fentanyl overdose. He was 54.
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