A familiar television presence for more than 40 years, actor Dick Van Patten died today at the age of 86. Best known for his role as Tom Bradford, the father of eight children in the hit dramedy Eight is Enough, Van Patten became a father figure for many Gen-Xers who watched the show during its five-year run (1977-81).
His extensive television resume included work on such notable series as The Love Boat, Happy Days, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Facts of Life, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Murder, She Wrote.
With his everyman features, comedic timing and jovial personality, Van Patten started out on the stage in 1937 and would return to the footlights throughout the rest of his career. His film roles included appearances in Westworld and Soylent Green, among others.
A committed advocate for animals, Van Patten was also the founder of the successful Natural Balance Pet Food, which he started in 1989.
Van Patten is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Pat; his three sons Nels, James and Vincent; his sister, Joyce; and half-brother Timothy.