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Dick Van Patten, best known as Tom Bradford, head of the Eight Is Enough family, has died at age 86 from complications from diabetes. Van Patten’s sunny demeanor made him a beloved TV actor, and his performances were informed by shrewd comic timing and a generosity toward his co-stars.
Van Patten started work in television near the very start of the medium, co-starring in I Remember Mama, one of the first TV hits (an adaptation of a popular radio show) from 1949 to 1957. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Van Patten popped up all over TV in supporting roles on dramas and comedies, shows as various as Naked City, Adam-12, The Streets of San Francisco, That Girl, Banachek, Cannon, and Happy Days. But it wasn’t until Eight Is Enough, which ran from 1977-81, that Van Patten secured a stardom that carried through to the rest of his career.