Adam Rich, the pageboy-wearing child actor who captivated television audiences as “America’s little brother” on “Eight is Enough,” has died. He was 54 years old.
Rich died Saturday at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, said Lt. Aimee Earl of the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office. The cause of death was under investigation, but it was not considered suspicious.
Rich had a limited acting career after starring at age 8 as Nicholas Bradford, the youngest of eight children, on the hit ABC drama that ran from 1977 to 1981.
Betty Buckley, who played her stepmother on the show, said on Instagram that she was shocked to learn of his death on Sunday and referred to Rich as a “light,” her “young friend” on set and friend ever since.
“I adored him and I loved working with him,” said Buckley, who posted photos of the show of the two of them together on a swing, on horseback and with her arm around him as he slept. “He was so sweet and funny and fresh and natural. It brought a lot of joy to all of us on the show and to our audience.”
Rich’s public life after stardom was similar to that of other child actors whose promising careers were later derailed by drugs and alcohol, and run-ins with the law.
He was arrested for drink driving in 2002 after nearly hitting a California Highway Patrol car parked in a freeway lane closed for maintenance. He was arrested in April 1991 for trying to enter a pharmacy and in October of that year for allegedly stealing a drug-filled syringe at a hospital where he was being treated for a dislocated shoulder.
Rich suffered from a form of depression that defied treatment and had tried to erase the stigma of speaking out about mental illness, publicist Danny Deraney said. He tried unsuccessfully experimental cures over the years.
Deraney said he and others close to Rich had been concerned in recent weeks when they were unable to reach him.
“He was a very kind, generous and loving soul,” Deraney told The Associated Press. “Being a famous actor is not necessarily what he wanted to be. … He had no ego, not an ounce of it.”
Adam Rich, Former ‘Eight Is Enough’ Child Star, Dies at 54
Adam Rich, the mop-wielding child actor who captivated television audiences as “America’s little brother” on “Eight is Enough,” has died at 54. The cause of death was under investigation, but it was not considered suspicious. (January the 8th)
Rich opened up about his mental health on Twitter, noting in October that he had been sober for seven years. He said he wasn’t perfect, referring to arrests, many stints in rehab, several overdoses and “countless detoxes (and) relapses,” and urged his nearly 19,000 followers to never give up.
“Human beings were not created to endure mental illness,” Rich tweeted in September. “The mere fact that some people consider them weak or lacking in will is totally laughable… because it is the opposite! It takes a very, very strong person…a warrior if you will…to fight such diseases.”
Rich posted a photo of himself from his heyday with former child star Mickey Rooney.
“Everyone used to tell me: ‘You’re modern Mickey Rooney,’” he tweeted. “But when Mickey Rooney told me that very thing, it meant so much more to me!”
Nearly 27 years ago, Rich participated in a hoax created by Might magazine about the actor’s death in a robbery outside a Los Angeles nightclub in 1996. The article for the little-known magazine was meant to be a satire of the obsession with US celebrities, but it fell through when the parody was revealed.
“I think we were too subtle. People weren’t getting the joke,” Rich later told the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t want to be dead.”
Rich was the little brother of a generation of TV viewers as the mop son of a newspaper columnist played by Dick Van Patten, who has to raise eight children alone after his wife on the show, and the actress who played her. he played, died during the filming of the first season.
Rich starred on the series “Code Red” from 1981 to 1982 and voiced the character Presto the Magician on “Dungeons & Dragons” from 1983 to 1985, according to IMDB.com. He reprized the best-known role of him in two “Eight is Enough” TV movie reunions.
But the rest of his acting career was built around single-episode appearances on some of the most popular TV shows of the day: “The Love Boat,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Silver Spoons,” and “Baywatch.” ». His most recent credit listed on IMDB was playing Crocodile Dundee in “Reel Comedy” in 2003.