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Dick Van Patten's Death

Dick Van Patten

The life and death of Dick Van Patten:

He enjoyed an amazingly long and successful acting career, which lasted a staggering 77 years. He started as a child star on Broadway in 1935 and gained his greatest fame in a popular ABC-TV series that ran from 1977 to 1981. He remained active until 2012 and was warmly remembered by his professional colleagues when he died of complications from diabetes at the age of 86.

Richard Vincent Van Patten was born in Kew Gardens, in the borough of Queens, New York. His father Richard was an interior decorator of Dutch-English descent and his mother Josephine, of Italian ancestry, worked in advertising. He was only seven years old when he made his debut on the Broadway stage in "Tapestry in Gray" and was in a dozen productions before he was a teenager.

From there it was off to Hollywood where he started his career in film and on TV. An early popular role was as Nels Hansen in CBS-TV's "Mama" from 1949-1957.

But Van Patten's best remembered role was as Tom Bradford in ABC-TV's "Eight is Enough", which aired from 1977 to 1981

Dick discussed how his role in that series, based on a book by journalist Tom Braden, was similar to his personal life.

Van Patten also had guest roles in several other TV series, including "Sanford & Son", starring Redd Foxx, "The Streets of San Francisco" and "Happy Days". He also worked as a commentator for the "World Series of Poker". Film credits included "Soylent Green", High Anxiety" and "Spaceballs."

An animal lover, he started Natural Balance Pet Foods in 1989…

Dick Van Patten, pet food commercial

…and founded National Guide Dog month in 2008.

Dick also starred as himself, with his family, as a pitchman for other companies.

Dick and his wife for more than sixty years, the former Patricia Poole…

Dick Van Patten wedding photo

…had three sons, all actors named Vincent, Nels and Jimmy.

Dick Van Patten family photo

His younger sister is actress Joyce Van Patten.

Joyce Van Patten

They survived him when he died of complications of diabetes at the age of 86 at St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica, California.

Dick Van Patten star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

In 1985, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1985.