If you've never seen much of 1970s television, we'd suggest going back and giving some of the era's best shows a watch on whatever streaming service they're on. The decade contained some truly monumental sitcoms, such as M*A*S*H, Starsky & Hutch, Happy Days, and of course, Eight Is Enough. The series focused on a newspaperman and his family, and while its premise was quite idyllic - just like a lot of television at the time - the cast's lives off-screen were a whole other story. Both back in the day and once cameras stopped rolling, these actors' lives were worthy of their own drama.
Diana Hyland - Then
Diana Hyland had already made her Hollywood debut when she was cast to play Tom Bradford's wife in Eight Is Enough. In fact, she'd already been starring in roles for about 20 years when she joined the sitcom in the 70s. Some of her credits included shows like The Fugitive, Gunsmoke, and The Chase. Like some of her costars, she'd had a pretty decorated career up to her time playing roles like Joan Bradford.
She was also known for dating a young star by the name of John Travolta at the time. However, her time on the show would be short-lived, much to everyone's dismay.
Diana Hyland - Now
Unfortunately, Diana Hyland passed away after only playing in four episodes of Eight Is Enough. The actress was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her health deteriorated not long after. She had surgery to treat the cancer, but by that time, it'd already spread. Hyland passed away in 1977 at the age of 41. The show dealt with her passing by saying that her character had passed away when the next season premiered.
The show handled her death pretty poignantly, with a couple of scenes in the next season that addressed what happens when a parent or a mother is taken from a family.
Dick Van Patten – Then
Dick Van Patten played the lead role of Tom Bradford in Eight Is Enough. And it seemed like the kind of role he'd trained his whole life for. Patten had been acting nearly since the time he could walk and played a part in a Broadway show when he was only seven. Patten's acting career spanned around 70 years, during which he appeared in dozens of shows and movies.
Patten was also known for his work advocating for animal rights after his time with the show Eight Is Enough ended. Suffice it to say, he had a pretty legendary Hollywood career.
Dick Van Patten - Now
Dick Van Patten's career spanned decades more than most careers in Hollywood. And the legendary actor lived for a long time after his role in the show ended. However, he ended up passing away in 2015. Patten had been diagnosed with diabetes years earlier and even had a major scare in 2006 before eventually recovering. But the condition eventually led to complications, which caused his death nearly a decade later.
Today, Hollywood visitors can find Patten's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Palm Springs. The star was dedicated in 2008, after his first health scare.
Adam Rich - Then
Adam Rich played Nicholas Bradford in Eight Is Enough. He was hugely popular, and his unique haircut started somewhat of a trend at the time. People referred to it as a "pageboy" haircut, and moms across the nation began giving their sons similar cuts after seeing it on the show. He was also awarded the unofficial title of "America's Little Brother" for his portrayal of the younger sibling on the show.
Rich was very young when he first appeared on the show, and his work on Eight Is Enough ended up propelling his career for years to come.
Adam Rich - Now
Like many child actors, Adam Rich had somewhat of a difficult time dealing with fame and adolescence. He started using substances in his teenage years and had a couple of different run-ins with the law. He's also publicly talked about his struggle with depression. However, despite all of this, he's still had a pretty successful career in Hollywood. He played in Dungeons & Dragons, Code Red, and numerous television shows.
Rich kept out of the public eye heading into the early 2000s, although he did advocate for mental health on social media. Unfortunately, he passed away in early 2023.
Betty Buckley - Then
After Diana Hyland passed away, the show needed someone to fill the role of Tom Bradford's love interest. They waited a season or two and settled on Betty Buckley to play Sandra "Abby" Mitchell. Mitchell's backstory was that she'd also lost a spouse. Her character had lost her husband in the Vietnam War, which, at the time, probably resonated with a lot of people. And the showrunners probably couldn't have picked a better actress to play the role.
Buckley has had an extremely decorated career, with numerous awards, including a Tony Award, a Grammy, and a Daytime Emmy. The show also used her appearance to explore how children handle new members of the family.
Betty Buckley - Now
Betty Buckley may have had one of the most distinguished careers amongst the cast after her time on Eight Is Enough. She continued to star in shows and movies after her time on the show and even followed it up with one of the most legendary Broadway careers of all time. She's been nominated for a Tony for her work in Triumph of Love and still tours and plays music to this day.
She's around 75 years old and doesn't show any sign of slowing down anytime soon. Her extensive theater work has earned her the distinguished title "The Voice of Broadway."
Willie Aames - Then
Thomas Bradford was played by actor Willie Aames, who had already collected a couple of different acting credits before he joined Eight Is Enough. Aames appeared in The Wonderful World of Disney, Adam-12, and Gunsmoke before joining the rest of the cast in Eight Is Enough. Aames has had a pretty successful career ever since, both on the screen and with his music, having landed a record deal when he was still with his old junior high band.
Aames also dated his costar for a time, Connie Needham, while the two were still filming for the show. However, the two eventually separated, and Aames is currently married to Winnie Hung.
Willie Aames - Now
Willie Aames continues to grace screens to this day, and if you're a fan of Hallmark movies, then you've likely seen his face in titles like Every Christmas Has A Story, Dater's Handbook, and others. He also spent a good deal of time traveling the globe directing and writing, according to his IMDB profile. That said, there was a time when Aames was addicted to alcohol, and he has been through a couple of divorces.
However, compared to a lot of other stars from Eight Is Enough, Aames is doing really well. His latest film credit was for a short film titled The Guardians.
Lani O'Grady - Then
Like many other actors who starred in Eight Is Enough, Lanita Rose Agrati had already made her acting debut when she appeared in the show. Her mother was a child talent agent, so Agrati, who also went by Lani O'Grady after landing her role as Mary Bradford in Eight Is Enough, started acting when she was around 13.
However, according to The Washington Post, her mother never pushed her into acting as she was worried about the pressure she'd seen it put on other child stars. And it turns out she'd see her daughter experience some of the same things in her career.
Lani O'Grady - Now
Despite her struggles, Lani O'Grady continued to act after Eight Is Enough ended, most notably landing a role on The Days of Our Lives. However, she did eventually give up acting to follow in her mother's footsteps, becoming a talent agent in the 1990s. It was during this decade that O'Grady struggled heavily with prescription drugs. According to The Washington Post, O'Grady suffered from panic attacks but wasn't diagnosed until years after the attacks first began occurring.
O'Grady was found dead in her trailer in California in 2001. She had passed away due to what authorities labeled natural causes at first. However, an autopsy later revealed that she had died from an overdose.
Laurie Walters - Then
Laurie Walters played Joanie Bradford, one of the middle children on Eight Is Enough. However, in real life, Walters was older than most of the other children on the show. She was also a child of the era because she once complained that all of the men on Eight Is Enough were being paid more than the women. To fix this, she advocated for the women to negotiate together.
Before she joined the cast of Eight Is Enough, she'd made a couple of appearances on some of the decade's other most popular sitcoms, including Cheers and Happy Days.
Laurie Walters - Now
Compared to a lot of other cast members from Eight Is Enough, Laurie Walters has stayed pretty busy after her time with Eight Is Enough. Her acting career has included roles in Columbo, The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story, and Dragnet. She continues to work in acting today, although she has switched her focus from film to the stage and occasionally acts in plays in California.
Walters has been a vocal advocate for wildlife, and she even briefly planned on majoring in wildlife conservation at one time. She has also been a part-time librarian.
Susan Richardson - Then
Susan Richardson played Susan Bradford, a middle daughter, in Eight Is Enough. Richardson had a pretty successful acting career during that decade, with appearances in A Star is Born, The Love Boat, Chips, and Happy Days. Before she joined the cast of Eight Is Enough, she also had a film credit for her role in American Graffiti. Unlike some of the other actors in Eight Is Enough, Richardson started with the show from the very first episode.
She became pregnant towards the end of the show, which reportedly became an issue when producers allegedly asked her to try and lose extra weight. This would lead to all sorts of problems down the line.
Susan Richardson - Now
To lose all the excess weight from the pregnancy, Susan Richardson allegedly turned to drugs. This spiraled into a cocaine habit that left her with all sorts of different health issues after the show ended. According to a couple of different news outlets, Richardson has since suffered from mini-strokes, diabetes, and an esophagus issue. The latter is called Achalasia, and it took the lives of her mother, sister, and father around 2014 and 2015.
In interviews with different outlets, she has complained about not being able to heat or power her trailer, where she now lives, and says that she can't afford a new one.
Grant Goodeve - Then
Grant Goodeve played David Bradford in Eight Is Enough. His time on the show came as a bit of a surprise as his character was originally played by a young Mark Hamill. However, as we all know, Hamill ended up playing Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, leaving the show and the character of Bradford to be played by Goodeve. He appeared around season five after Hamill left the show.
And here's a fun little fact about Goodeve. He actually sings Eight is Enough's theme song. Before his time on the show, he'd only had a couple of smaller roles.
Grant Goodeve - Now
While Grant Goodeve hasn't played in much since his time on Eight Is Enough, he has had some notable roles and continues to work in Holywood. Notably, he's played in Twin Peaks, and he now hosts a travel show called Northwest Backroads. Throughout the years, he's also appeared in various shows and movies. He often talks about his time on Eight Is Enough with fondness when speaking to the media.
In addition, he's known for his work in voice acting, having voiced various videogame characters in games like Starfox, Team Fortress, and Fear. He's also used his voice for a set of holiday albums with Bob Rivers.
Janis Paige - Then
Actress Janis Paige is another extremely accomplished member of the Eight Is Enough cast. Before she landed her role as Aunt Vivan on the show, she'd already been performing in front of audiences since she was around five years old. Her list of film credits is a long one, with her debut credit coming from 1944's Bathing Beauty. Paige's other credits include Hollywood Canteen, Romance on the High Seas, and Her Kind Of Man.
She even had her only sitcom at one time, called Always Jan, which says something about her popularity and charisma when in front of a camera or on a stage.
Janis Paige - Now
Janis Paige is still alive today at 100 years old. She also had a very illustrious Broadway and singing career. Despite a health struggle and losing her voice some years ago, she eventually recovered and occasionally sings today. On that note, she was also once married to Ray Gilbert, who wrote "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah." The tune itself was recently embroiled in some controversy, but she still heads his recording company, called Ipanema Music Co.
In short, Paige has had one of those Hollywood careers that you just don't see anymore. She was thrust into fame at a young age and managed to navigate it all throughout her life.
Connie Newton-Needham - Then
Connie Newton-Needham was originally Connie Newton before marrying set designer David Needham during one of the last seasons of Eight Is Enough. She played the youngest daughter, Elizabeth Bradford. Unlike a lot of other cast members at the time, this was actually Needham's very first acting gig, which, as far as things go, isn't a bad first gig to have. She was also around 18 when she was first cast.
Right after her time with the show ended, she was cast to star in Fame, where she actually played two different characters: Kathy Murphy and Kelly Hayden.
Connie Newton-Needham - Now
Connie Newton-Needham didn't have too many roles after that, and she mostly retired to teaching dance in California. She and her husband had two children, although they got a divorce in the mid-2000s. Needham was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009, and she has talked with the media about her battle and how she first learned about the news, which came as quite a shock. Luckily, she won her battle and made a full recovery.
However, she still advocates for cancer research and has warned people to "Pay close attention to your body and don't assume things are normal," during an interview with Radar Online.
Ralph Macchio - Then
You don't even really have to know this actor to recognize his face. This is Ralph Macchio, and he played Jeremy Andretti in the latter half of Eight Is Enough. However, he's probably more known for his iconic performance in Karate Kid. Macchio started performing at a relatively young age, though he started out dancing. Other pretty popular performances came in the iconic movies, The Outsiders and Up in Smoke.
And while Machio doesn't really have a black belt in karate, he does reportedly do most of his own stunts, so he probably does know a thing or two about martial arts.
Ralph Macchio - Now
Some of Ralph Macchio's more recent acting credits come from roles in movies and shows like Hitchcock, Cobra Kai, and The Deuce. So, he's managed to create quite the career for himself. In addition, he's also done some voice work over the years, although these have mostly been related to his movie roles and involve things like narration. According to The Guardian, he's seen somewhat of a late-career revival lately.
In a recent article, the publication details how Macchio is still sent scripts and has appeared in a couple of blockbuster theater productions. The former child star is also still apparently on people's minds because he boasts around 2 million followers on Instagram.
Michele Greene - Then
Many might know actress Michele Greene from L.A. Law and other crime shows. However, she actually got one of her first starts playing in Eight Is Enough. Before being cast to play Jill, she'd made brief appearances in Laverne & Shirley and Dorothy. Her acting career seemingly took off after her time on Eight Is Enough, with roles in shows and movies like The Dukes of Hazard and Matlock.
Greene also garnered an Emmy nomination for her work on L.A. Law, playing Abigail Perkins. In addition, her talents extend far beyond just acting, as you'll read about in just a moment.
Michele Greene - Now
Michele Greene followed up a very successful acting career with successful careers in two other mediums, music and writing. Greene, whose mother has roots in Mexico and Nicaragua, released bilingual albums in Spanish and English. The first album was released in 2002, while the second was released in 2006. This is all while she continued to star in numerous T.V. shows, so we're not sure where she found the time.
But that's not all; Greene is also an accomplished writer, having written young adult novels, Chasing The Jaguar and Keep Sweet. Her last acting appearance was in 2001.
Dianne Kay - Then
While the role of Nancy Bradford was originally supposed to be played by Kimberly Black, Dianne Kay was awarded the role after the team found Black's audition to be a bit lackluster. It was probably for the best, as Kay went on to become a much-loved character by the show's audience. Kay has acting credit for appearing in Starsky and Hutch, the same year she appeared in Eight Is Enough.
She ended up landing numerous roles both during the time the show was running and after it finished. These included some well-known titles, such as 1941, Fantasy Island, Murder She Wrote, and The Love Boat.
Dianne Kay - Now
While her acting career was pretty busy both during Eight Is Enough and directly after, her last major role was in 1999's Diagnosis Murder. She was diagnosed with kidney cancer shortly after in 2001, but after a long battle, she entered remission in 2011. She mostly stays out of the limelight these days and is officially a retired actress living in Los Angeles and spending time with her family.
However, there really isn't much else out there about Kay these days, and it would seem that she managed to retire and live a perfectly blissful and normal life after fame.
Where Are Other Beloved Characters From The Show
Sadly, Michael Thoma, who played Dr. Greg Maxwell on Eight Is Enough, doesn't have a "where are they now." Thoma passed away from cancer in 1982. His character on the show was Tom Bradford's best friend. He was probably best known for his time in Fame when he was cast in Eight Is Enough. Thoma had served in World War II and began acting in earnest after the war.
In addition, Larry Gelman, who played Officer Bernstein in Eight Is Enough and was somewhat of a Hollywood staple, passed away in 2021. Dennis Patrick, who also played in Dark Shadows, passed away in 2002.
Willie Aames Has Had Quite A Few T. V. Appearances
It's no secret that despite some struggles, Willie Aames has made a lot of appearances in everything from traditional T.V. shows to celebrity contests. One such contest was called Celebrity Fit Club, and it saw Aames lose a pretty astounding 19 pounds during his time on the show. He's also shown up on the Macmillan River Adventure show, which is a hunting show in which viewers watch people take down wild game.
Fans of legendary comedian and host Bob Saget might also remember Aames appearing in an episode of 1 vs. 100, which was a short-lived game show on NBC.
The Show Had a Member of a Band
With an acting career as long and prestigious as the one Willie Aames has, you'd think that acting was the only thing he'd ever devoted his life to, but that isn't actually the case. When Aames was playing Tommy Bradford, he was also a member of a band during his junior high days. The band must've been pretty good, too, because they were allowed to perform on Eight Is Enough.
The band went on to play on some pretty famous shows, such as American Band Stand. They even nabbed a record deal at one point. If you're curious about what they sounded like, you can look up "You're The Only One That I Ever Needed," which was one of their more popular songs.
Mark Hamill Was Once A Part of the Bradford Family
Today, Mark Hamill's name is synonymous with that of Luke Skywalker. Hamill played one of the defining characters of not just the 1970s but arguably one of the most popular characters of the 20th century. You don't have to be a Star Wars fan or even have watched the movies to have ever heard the name Luke Skywalker before. However, few know that he was actually first cast to play a character in Eight Is Enough.
He even played in the show's pilot episode. However, due to a severe car wreck and an offer to play Skywalker, he ended up down a different path.
Nobody Told Dick Van Patten About The Show's Cancelation
Hollywood can be a cruel business to work in. Shows are constantly being canceled, and cast members are almost always in limbo over whether their show will receive another season or not. Even though Eight Is Enough was extremely popular at one point in time, like all shows, their ratings started to decline towards the end, and the network saw fit to cancel it. However, they didn't handle it in the best way.
Nobody actually told the show's leading actor, Dick Van Patten, that the decision had been made to cancel the show, and he had to read it in the paper. It's unclear where the breakdown in communication occurred.
The Story Behind The Show
As is the case with a lot of popular shows, the plot behind Eight Is Enough was actually based on real-life events. The show was based on an autobiography called Eight Is Enough: A Father's Memoir of Life with His Extra-Large Family. The book was written by a man named Tom Braden, who had served in World War II and returned home to the U.K. to work as a columnist.
He also worked for the CIA in Europe for a time. When he passed away, the New York Times wrote an obituary for him titled, "Tom Braden, Who Fathered 'Eight Is Enough,' Dies at 92."