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TV today has large families like the Duggars of 19 Kids and Counting and the Gosselins of Jon and Kate Plus 8. But before reality shows, there were the Bradfords of Eight Is Enough. The comedy-drama series aired from 1977 to 1981. It was based on the life of syndicated newspaper columnist Tom Braden, who had eight children. He wrote a book, and ABC turned it into a successful TV series of the same name. So, which Eight Is Enough cast members are still alive?

What was ‘Eight Is Enough’ about?

Eight Is Enough cast still alive
‘Eight Is Enough’ cast portrait, 1978 | Jim Britt/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Eight Is Enough centered on parents Tom and Joan Bradford and their eight children: David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy, and Nicholas. Dad was a newspaper columnist, and mom was a homemaker.

Sadly, Diana Hyland, who played Joan, was diagnosed with breast cancer during season 1 and died. ABC wrote her character’s death into the series, and Tom Bradford became a single dad.

During season 2, Tom met a widowed teacher, Abby Abbott, who was tutoring his son Tommy. The two fell in love and married, and Abby became a stepmom to the eight children.

The series followed the family as the eight kids grew. David was a contractor who started a construction company with his dad. Mary became a doctor, and Tommy was a singer in a band. Joanie worked as a researcher and then a reporter. Nancy began modeling, while Elizabeth studied dance. Susan married Merle “the Pearl” Stockwell, a professional baseball player. And the youngest, Nicholas, was only in elementary school.

Through it all, they showed audiences a loving and supportive large family.

‘Eight Is Enough’ cast: Who’s still alive, and who has died?

Cast members who’ve died

On Jan. 7, 2023, the youngest cast member, Adam Rich, who played the adorable Nicholas Bradford, died at 54. After the series ended, Rich wanted a typical childhood, so he enrolled in a high school near Los Angeles. However, he developed a drug and alcohol problem. As of this writing, the LA County medical examiner’s office hasn’t listed a cause of death, but various outlets mention depression and drugs as suspected contributors.

Dick Van Patten portrayed the family patriarch, Tom Bradford. He was a successful actor before and after Eight Is Enough, appearing in many films and TV series. Van Patten died on Jun. 23, 2015, at 86 from diabetes complications. 

Lani O’Grady, who played Mary Bradford, died on Sept. 25, 2001, at 46 due to a drug overdose. She’d had a panic disorder since she was 21, leading her to overuse prescription drugs and alcohol.

‘Eight Is Enough’ cast members who are still alive

Willie Aames portrayed Tommy Bradford. After Eight Is Enough, he costarred with Scott Baio on the hit sitcom Charles in Charge. Aames conquered a cocaine dependence and stepped away from acting. The now-62-year-old is a successful financial adviser.

Connie Newton (Elizabeth Bradford) starred in the TV series Fame. She’s a 63-year-old ovarian cancer survivor and mother of two. 

Dianne Kay (Nancy Bradford) appeared in many guest roles through the ’80s. She’s 68.

Grant Goodeve was the oldest son, David Bradford, and sang the show’s theme song. He later appeared in many TV series, including the soap One Life to Live. He’s now 70. 

Susan Richardson, who played Susan Bradford, claimed she was kidnapped by South Korean filmmakers in 1987 and has battled addiction. The 70-year-old works in a nursing home in Pennsylvania. 

Betty Buckley is an acclaimed Broadway performer who has also appeared in films such as 1976’s Carrie. The actor, who portrayed Abby Abbott Bradford, is now 75. 

After Eight Is Enough, the now-76-year-old Laurie Walters (Joannie Bradford) made guest appearances on TV shows but hasn’t acted since 1993.

How Dick Van Patten found out ‘Eight Is Enough’ was canceled


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ABC canceled Eight Is Enough in 1981 after five seasons. But star Dick Van Patton didn’t hear the news from a producer or network executive. According to the New York Times, he read it in a newspaper. 

Rising production costs and falling ratings were to blame for the cancellation. The series finale offered no closure, but the family reconvened in two reunion shows. 

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