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|Also Known As:||Richard Vincent Van Patten, Dickie Van Patten||Died:||June 23, 2015|
|Born:||December 9, 1928||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Kew Gardens, New York, USA||Profession:||actor|
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caught attempting to rob a pharmacy in 1991, and estranged from both his parents, he called Van Patten, who immediately posted Rich's $5,000 bail. "I just did what anybody would do for a friend," Van Patten told People.He returned to a series cast job, joining the ensemble drama "WIOU" (CBS, 1990-91) for its one-season run, then hooked up with Brooks again in 1993 on familiar turf for them both, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." Though timed to send up two recent big-screen Robin Hood retreatments - foremost Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (1991) - "Men in Tights" came off as an even hammier, but still joyously stupid, iteration. Van Patten returned to a clergyman's role, playing The Abbot, with Brooks himself transposing Friar Tuck into "Rabbi Tuckman," alongside Cary Elwes as Robin, Richard Lewis as a wholly neurotic Prince John, Tracey Ullman as the witch Latrine, and Dave Chappelle as an incongruously African member of the Merry Men, Ahchoo (a riff on the Costner film's casting of Morgan Freeman). In ensuing years, Van Patten spiced up his regular guest and supporting regime with some creative veers off the beaten path. In 1999, he made a brief, hilariously untoward cameo on Fox's...
caught attempting to rob a pharmacy in 1991, and estranged from both his parents, he called Van Patten, who immediately posted Rich's $5,000 bail. "I just did what anybody would do for a friend," Van Patten told People.
He returned to a series cast job, joining the ensemble drama "WIOU" (CBS, 1990-91) for its one-season run, then hooked up with Brooks again in 1993 on familiar turf for them both, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." Though timed to send up two recent big-screen Robin Hood retreatments - foremost Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (1991) - "Men in Tights" came off as an even hammier, but still joyously stupid, iteration. Van Patten returned to a clergyman's role, playing The Abbot, with Brooks himself transposing Friar Tuck into "Rabbi Tuckman," alongside Cary Elwes as Robin, Richard Lewis as a wholly neurotic Prince John, Tracey Ullman as the witch Latrine, and Dave Chappelle as an incongruously African member of the Merry Men, Ahchoo (a riff on the Costner film's casting of Morgan Freeman). In ensuing years, Van Patten spiced up his regular guest and supporting regime with some creative veers off the beaten path. In 1999, he made a brief, hilariously untoward cameo on Fox's ribald cartoon, "Family Guy" (1999- ), voicing over an animated version of himself as Tom Bradford. The next year in the raw indie film, "The Price of Air" (2000), Van Patten played almost devilishly against type, playing a sanguinely murderous, racist businessman who hosts S&M parties and bankrolls the drug trade. The film drew almost universally critical pans, so few people would see amiable, now grandfatherly Tom Bradford utter the line, "You f*cked my wife and now you are trying to f*ck me."
But Van Patten had also branched out in a more lucrative direction: the pet care industry. While on a talk show appearance in the 1980s, Van Patten had chance to strike up a conversation with drummer J y Herrick, and the two swapped tales of their predilections for fauna. Herrick shared his idea of creating a healthier dog food and Van Patten said he played tennis with a vet who could counsel them on how to do so; sort of an organic alternative to the pet food industry, guaranteeing doting pet-parents "no filler, no wheat, no corn, no soy and no by-products." Though it started off in 1989 as a struggling niche brand, Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance grew into a $40 million business by 2004 and recast him as, according to one business wag, "the Paul Newman of the pet food industry." The company expanded beyond the consumer business to all but corner the market on specialty food for American zoos, and drew Van Patten to a new kind of public performance - appearing at trade shows and zoos to promote his products, which, like Newman's Own brand's colorful representations of its famous namesake, features Van Patten in different guises representative of the different products, including Irish Stew, Hobo Chili and Chinese Take-out.
Son Jimmy also got involved in the pet food business, evidence of the close-knit relationships maintained in the immediate family, all living adjacent to each other in Sherman Oaks, CA, and still playing tennis (Vince became a tennis pro at one point). But the family endured its share of rough spots. In January 2006, Van Patten, who had Type 2 diabetes, suffered a diabetic stroke, though he subsequently made a full recovery. In the spring of 2007, Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance found its brand image stained when it became mired in the pet food contamination scandal which killed numerous pets. Van Patten and Herrick recalled some Natural Balance products when traces of melamine were found - an industrial chemical increasingly occurring in pet products whose companies who sourced either production or ingredients in China. In August 2007, Natural Balance was named alongside Binzhou Futian Biological Technology, maker of a rice-protein ingredient imported by one of the company's suppliers, in a class action lawsuit filed by people whose pets became sick or died from melamine ingestion. The company said it would fight the suit, and pointed out its already rigorous damage control mode, spending $500,000 for an in-house product-testing lab and paying out some $600,000 in veterinary claims by consumers, including one $14,000 payment, as Herrick recalled it, that went to pay for medical care that saved a dog's life. Returning to the screen, Van Patten guested in episodes of "The Sarah Silverman Program" (Comedy Central 2007-2010) and "Hot In Cleveland" (TVLand 2010- ), and had a supporting role in the family comedy "Opposite Day" (2009). Dick Van Patten died of complications from diabetes on June 23, 2015, at the age of 86.times a week. Susan Richardson (Susan) got pregnant during the show, prompting producers to write it and, later, her new baby Sarah into the show, but when she had difficulty losing the 90 pounds she had put on, she opted for a cocaine diet out of fear of being replaced in the part. Eldest daughter Lani O'Grady (Mary) developed such a valium addiction that by 1980, she began showing up late to work and screwing up her lines, to the point where producers finally threatened to fire her if she did not clean up. Even Rich began drinking when only 11 and smoking marijuana at 12, before moving on to LSD and coke after the series shuttered.
Despite the off-screen shenanigans, the show continued to perform well, finishing No. 12 overall in the 1979-80 season, and it hit No. 1 one week on the strength of a double episode featuring two of the Bradford children getting married in one ceremony. "Eight is Enough" dropped to a still respectable No. 18 the next year, but at season's end ABC execs - likely troubled by the constant roiling on and off set - abruptly pulled the plug on the show, to the surprise of many, including Van Patten. "Nobody called me to tell me it was cancelled," he said years later. "I read it in the paper."
Free of his most famous role, Van Patten retained a development deal with the network, shot a pilot for a sitcom, "Fit for a King" the next year, and at one point claimed to have a "Charlie's Angels" (ABC, 1976-1981) satire in mind, to be called "Dick's Devils," but nothing saw air. He returned to his familiar pattern of frequent guest-star and supporting film roles, including a total of six guest spots on "The Love Boat." He reunited with Mel Brooks in 1987, playing the hapless King Roland in Brooks' spoof of the Star Wars trilogy, "Space Balls." But the Bradfords, for all their issues, would just not fade away so easily. That same year, NBC called Van Patten back for "Eight is Enough: A Family Reunion" (1987), then again for "An Eight is Enough Wedding" (1989). The Bradford clan, however, had not borne the end of the show's demise as well. Many had bowed out of the acting game or would soon, and Van Patten claimed to stay in touch with all his onetime TV kids. Aames had plummeted from his It-boy status into a drug spiral, and O'Grady continued her own battle with prescription drugs and booze, eventually dying of an overdose of Vicodin and Prozac in 2001. Richardson notoriously claimed to be swindled by her management and kidnapped and sold into white slavery in North Korea -a story few believed - suffered a breakdown, and later said that she was nearly homeless at one point when Van Patten, her daughter's godfather, simply took money out of his pocket and gave it to her for her and Sarah's airfare back to her native Pennsylvania. Rich, who so neatly fit the tabloid "child star curse" became most famous for his fall from America's-darling status, snaring a couple short-lived shows before succumbing to his own addictions. Hungover one day during the "Reunion" shooting, he got into a car accident on his way to the studio and got to the set late, prompting the studio execs to suggest he get himself into rehab, which he did, then got the boot for smuggling in cocaine. He was
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CAST: (feature film)
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"My mother was a real stage mother. On the other hand, it's terrible if a stage mother pushes a child into a business. People berate stage mothers--but how about mothers who push their kids to become doctors and lawyers?" --Dick Van Patten to Army Archerd in DAILY VARIETY, February 28, 1997
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