Adam Rich, former ‘Eight Is Enough’ child star, dies at 54

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Adam Rich, the page-mop-top child actor who charmed television audiences as “America’s little brother” on “Eight is Enough,” has died. He was 54.

Rich died Saturday at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, said Lt. Aimee Earl of the Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner’s office. The cause of death was investigated but was not considered suspicious.

Rich had a limited acting career after starring at age 8 as Nicholas Bradford, the youngest of eight children, on the hit ABC drama that ran from 1977 to 1981.

He had several run-ins with the police related to drugs and alcohol – and sought treatment at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage.

Rich suffered from a form of depression that defied treatment, and he had tried to erase the stigma of talking about mental illness, publicist Danny Deraney said. He unsuccessfully tried experimental cures over the years.

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Deraney said he and others close to Rich were worried in recent weeks when they couldn’t reach him.

“He was just a very kind, generous, loving soul,” Deraney told The Associated Press. “Being a famous actor is not necessarily what he wanted to be. … He had no ego, not an ounce of it.”

Rich discussed his mental health on Twitter, noting in October that he had been sober for seven years. He said he wasn’t perfect — citing arrests, numerous stints in rehab, numerous overdoses and “countless detoxes (and) relapses” — and urged his nearly 19,000 followers to never give up.

“Humans were not built to endure mental illness,” Rich tweeted in September. “The mere fact that some people consider them to be weak or lacking in will is absolutely ridiculous… because it’s the opposite! It takes a very, very strong person … a warrior if you will … to fight such diseases.”

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Rich posted a photo of himself from his heyday with one-time child star Mickey Rooney.

“Everybody used to say to me, ‘You’re the modern day Mickey Rooney,'” he tweeted. “But when Mickey Rooney himself told me that, it meant a lot more to me!”

Almost 27 years ago, Rich participated in a hoax that Might magazine published about the actor being killed in a robbery outside a Los Angeles nightclub in 1996. The article in the little-known magazine was intended as a satire on America’s obsession with celebrity, but sizzled when the forgery was revealed.

“I think we were a little too subtle. People didn’t get the joke,” Rich later told the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t want to be dead.”

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Rich was the younger brother to a generation of TV viewers as the mop-top son of a newspaper columnist played by Dick Van Patten, who must raise eight children alone after his wife on the show – and the actress who played her – died during filming of first season.

Rich starred in the series “Code Red” from 1981-82 and voiced the character Presto the Magician on “Dungeons & Dragons” from 1983-85, according to He reprized his best-known role in two “Eight is Enough” TV-movie reunions.

But the balance of his acting career was in single-episode appearances on some of the most popular TV shows of the time: “The Love Boat,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Silver Spoons” and “Baywatch.” His most recent credit on IMDB was playing Crocodile Dundee on “Reel Comedy” in 2003.


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