Thursday, October 29, 2020

Whatever happened to Adam Rich of "Eight is Enough"'?

Do you remember Adan Rich?  He played Nicholas, the youngest child on Eight is Enough, a cute little boy with the long bangs and a page boy haircut.  Adam's character was soon dubbed "America's little brother" and in the late 1970s and early 1980s, parents wanted their young sons to have a Nicholas-style bowl haircut.  However, as with many child stars, Adam became a troubled adult who engaged in substance abuse and drug-related criminal behaviour.

Adam Rich was born on October 12, 1968 in Brooklyn, New York.  He grew up as a child actor in Granada Hills, California, with his parents and younger brother, Drey Rich.  Adan began his show business career by appearing in numerous television commercials.  When he was five years old, the youngster announced his intention to become an actor.

Prior to his breakout role in Eight is Enough, Adam appeared in s 1976 episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, starring Lee Majors.  He played a character named Bob in "A Bionic Christmas Carol" (Season 4, Episode 10, Air Date: December 12, 1976).

At the age of eight, Adam won the role of Nicholas Bradford, the youngest son on the hour long TV drama-comedy Eight is Enough Eight is Enough was one of television's earliest "dramedies," a combination of dramatic situations and humour.  It was well-received for the measure of realism it brought to its portray of family life on TV.

Eight is Enough  ran on the ABC network for five seasons, from 1977 to 1981.  The television series was based on a book of the same name by former CIA operative Thomas Braden (1917-2009), a syndicated newspaper columnist who raised eight children.  

On the TV show, Dick Van Patten portrayed Tom Bradford, a columnist for a fictional Sacramento, California paper, also the father of eight children: Mary (Lani O'Grady), David (Grant Goodeve), Joanie (Laurie Walters), Nancy (Dianne Kay), Elizabeth (Connie Newton), Susan (Susan Richardson), Tommy (Willie Aames) and Nicholas (Adam Rich).  Their mother, Joan, was played by Diana Hyland.   Hyland filmed four episodes before dying of breast cancer on March 27, 1977.  Rather than recasting the role of Joan, the producers decided to write her death into the script.  Tom eventually met and married a widowed teacher named Sandra Sue "Abby" Abbott, played by Betty Buckley..  TRIVIA NOTE: In the pilot episode of Eight is Enough, "Never Try Eating Nectarines Since Juice May Dispense," Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame portrayed David Bradford.  On March 15, 1977, the night the episode aired, Hamill was involved in a serious car which he sustained facial injuries.

Adam Rich in 1977

When Eight is Enough went off the air, Adam attended Chatsworth High School, where he studied acting with former drama teacher Bob Carelli, who also taught Val Kilmer and Kevin Spacey.  At Chatsworth, Adam says he fell in with the wrong crowd and began experimenting with drugs.  He made the following statement to the LA Daily News: "I was 15 and realized I had been working most of my life.  I felt like I was almost ready to retire."

Unable to remain sober, Adam dropped out of high school in 1986 at the age of 17.  His cocaine abuses eventually led to stays at the Betty Ford Center and treatment from other drug rehabilitation programs.  

From 1981 to 1982, Adam played the role of Danny Blake in 16 episodes of the TV drama series Code Red.   Code Red, starring Lorne Greene, Andrew Steven and Julie Adams, chronicled the adventures of  Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Joe Rorchek (Lorne Greene) and his family and crew. Adam's character, Danny Blake, was Rorchek's adopted son.  

In 1982, Adam had guest spots in episodes of Fantasy Island (Season 6, Episode 4, Air Date: November 6, 1982) and  the crime drama CHiPs (Season 6, Episode 10, Air Date: December 19, 1982). 

From 1983 to 1985, Adam voiced the character of Presto the Magician  on the animated children's show Dungeons & Dragons.  His Eight is Enough castmate, Willie Aames, who played older brother Tommy Bradford, provided the voice of Hank the Ranger.

In 1986, Adam made guest appearances in episodes of he medical series St. Elsewhere (Season 4, Episode 16, Air Date February 12, 1986) and the sitcom Silver Spoons (Season 5, Episode 6, Air Date: October 20, 1986).  Adam also appeared in two episodes of Small Wonder (1996, 1998), a comedy about the adventures of a family and a robot designed to resemble a human child.

In 1987, Adam reprised his Nicholas Bradford role in a TV movie entitled Eight is Enough: A Family Reunion (Air Date: October 18, 1987).  He again played Nicholas in a second Eight is Enough made-for television reunion called An Eight is Enough Wedding (Air Date: October 15, 1989).

In 1989, Adam Rich almost died from a Valium overdose.  In 1990, he was arrested in West Hollywood and charged with drunk driving.  In April of 1991, Adam smashed the window of a San Fernando Valley pharmacy in an effort to steal morphine.  He was arrested and was bailed out by his Eight is Enough TV dad, Dick Van Patten.  However, he was soon rearrested for allegedly shoplifting a pair of sunglasses and socks at a department store.  He plead no contest to both charges and was sentenced to probation and more rehab.  He later admitted that the criminal charges were the result of his addiction to drugs and alcohol.  "I don't why this happened," he told the Los Angeles Daily News, "but I know I am sick.  I have a disease,"

In 1993, Adam appeared in an episode of Baywatch entitled "Sky Rider" (Season 4, Episode 5, Air Date: October 11, 1993).  He played a character named Ethan in his last television acting role to date.

In 1996, Adam was the subject of a media hoax that he had been murdered.  The story was published in Might, a a now-defunct San Francisco-based satirical magazine.  It was written by publisher and author Dave Eggers, with Adam's consent.  Although the fictional article was a combination of parody and prank, many believed it to be true, so much so that years later Adam encountered fans who thought he was dead.

On December 10, 2002, Adam was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) after nearly hitting a police car on a closed-off section of I-10 in Los Angeles.  On February 20, 2003, he was charged with DUI.  He has been in drug rehabilitation at least three times.

Apart from his drug problems, Adam Rich  has kept his personal life very private. IMDb quotes him as saying, "I am an actor, not a celebrity.  I have always wanted to be an actor, not a celebrity."  As of this writing, he has never married and is not known to have any children.


* Adan Rich starred with Bill Cosby and Elliott Gould  in Disney's 1981 fantasy-comedy film The Devil and Max Devlin.  He played Toby Hart, a boy whose fondest wish is to find the right man to marry his widowed mother.

* Adam is a diminutive man.  According to his biography on IMDb, he is only 1.64 metres (5 feet, 5 inches) tall.

* Adam's TV dad, Dick Van Patten, died on June 23, 2915 of complications from diabetes.  He was 86 years old at the time of his passing.  In a 1989 interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Van Patten stated that he was similar to his television character.  "Tom Bradford is a lot like the real me," he said.  "He's a man who always puts his career second to his family.  As long as everything was OK at home, he was OK too."

Adam with Dick Van Patten

* Adam was not the only actor on Eight is Enough who has had drug issues.  In 1994, Lani O'Grady, who played his TV sister Mary, revealed that she was addicted to alcohol and several other drugs, including Valium.  She died of an overdose on September 25, 2001 at the age of 46..  Willie Aames (Tommy Bradford) wrestled with alcoholism and experimented with cocaine.  Another Eight is Enough cast member, Susan Richardson, who played Susan Bradford, has battled addiction to cocaine and pills.  She did not participate in a 2010 cast reunion.

SOURCES:  The Fix, "Eight was Too Much: The Tragic Legacy of a Hit Sitcom," by John Lavitt, June 13, 2017; Do You Remember (, "'Eight is Enough' Cast: Where Are They Now? 2020," by Ed Gross,  October 14, 2020; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (

- Joanne

EDITOR'S UPDATE (January 9, 2023):  Adam Rich has died, according to a Los Angeles Medical Examiner.  He passed away at his home in L.A.  on January 7.  2023, according to a TMZ report, citing his family.  He was 54 years old at the time of his passing. The cause of his death is under investigation, although it is not considered to be suspicious.

EDITOR'S UPDATE (June 27, 2023): The cause of Adam Rich's death has been revealed.  A coroner's investigation determined that the child star died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl.  The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner reported that Adam 's death was the result of the effects of the powerful opioid.  The cause and manner of his death was found to be an accident.

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