About Richard Vincent Van Patten
Even in his eighth decade, actor Dick Van Patten has retained the cherubic, chipmunk-cheeked countenance of his child-star days. He is best known for his role as patriarch Tom Bradford on the television sitcom Eight is Enough.
Born into a family of actors, Van Patten was seven when he made his Broadway bow, playing Melvyn Douglas' son in Tapestry in Gray; that same year, he first stepped before a radio microphone. He would ultimately appear in 27 Broadway productions, including Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth. His co-star in this endeavor was Tallulah Bankhead, who declared that "Dickie" was the only child actor she could tolerate because he could read The Racing Form.
In 1941, Van Patten and his younger sister Joyce made their joint film debut in Reg'lar Fellers, repeating their roles from the radio version of the same property. He would not again appear in a film until 1968's Charly, by which time he had played eldest son Nels Hansen in the pioneering TV sitcom Mama had made a smooth transition to adult parts in the role of Mister Roberts' Ensign Pulver, and had co-starred in such New York stage presentations as The Tender Trap, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and Don't Drink the Water.
An avid tennis player, Van Patten met producer/director Mel Brooks on the courts; their personal relationship blossomed into a professional one, with Van Patten playing Friar Tuck in Brooks' 1975 TV series When Things Were Rotten and appearing in several of Brooks' theatrical features. From 1977 through 1981, Van Patten starred as Tom Bradford on the TV "dramedy" Eight is Enough. His other series-TV assignments include The Partners (1971), The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1973-74 season) and WIOU (1990). In addition to his sibling relationship with Joyce Van Patten, Dick Van Patten is the half-brother Timothy Van Patten and the father of James and Vincent Van Patten--actors all.
He has been married to Patricia Poole (aka Pat Van Patten) since 1954. They have three sons, all actors: Vincent Van Patten, Nels Van Patten, and Jimmy Van Patten. Nels is named for the character Dick played on the CBS TV series Mama.
Dick Van Patten is related to several other well-known actors, actresses and singers through marriages. His sister Joyce married actor Martin Balsam. They are the parents of actress Talia Balsam. Talia's first husband was actor George Clooney. George Clooney is related to singer Rosemary Clooney and actors Jose Ferrer and Miguel Ferrer. Miguel's brother Gabriel is married to singer Debby Boone. Talia Balsam's second husband is "Mad Men" actor John Slattery. Dick's son Vince Van Patten is married to The Young and the Restless actress Eileen Davidson, who has played "Ashley" for many years.