Adam Rich has died. As “America’s little brother” on the TV show Eight Is Enough, he was a child actor with a pageboy haircut and a mop top. He was 54.
Lt. Aimee Earl of the Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner’s office said that Rich died Saturday at his home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The cause of death was being looked into, but there was no reason to think it was suspicious.
Rich’s acting career was short-lived after he played Nicholas Bradford, the youngest of eight children, on the hit ABC dramedy from 1977 to 1981. He was only eight years old at the time.
He got in trouble with the police several times because of drugs and alcohol, and he went to the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage to get help.
Rich had a type of depression that was hard to treat, and his publicist, Danny Deraney, said that he had tried to get rid of the stigma of talking about mental illness. Over the years, he tried experimental cures that didn’t work.
Deraney said that he and other people close to Rich were worried when they couldn’t reach him in the past few weeks.
Deraney told The Associated Press, “He was just a very kind, generous, and loving person.” “He didn’t necessarily want to be a famous actor. He didn’t have a single ounce of ego.”
Rich wrote on Twitter about his mental health and said in October that he had been sober for seven years. He said he wasn’t perfect and talked about his arrests, many stays in rehab, several overdoses, and “countless detoxes and relapses.” He told his nearly 19,000 followers to never give up.
Rich tweeted in September, “Humans weren’t made to deal with mental illness.” “Some people think that those people are weak or don’t have any willpower, which is funny because it’s the exact opposite. To fight these kinds of illnesses, you have to be very, very strong—a warrior, if you will.”
Rich put up a picture of himself with Mickey Rooney when they were both young stars.
“Everyone used to tell me, ‘You’re the Mickey Rooney of today,'” he wrote on Twitter. “But when Mickey Rooney himself told me that, it meant so much more to me!”
Nearly 27 years ago, Rich helped make up a story that an actor had been killed in a robbery outside a Los Angeles nightclub in 1996. The story was printed in Might magazine. The article in the little-known magazine was meant to be a joke about how obsessed Americans are with celebrities, but it fell flat when the joke was found out.
“I think we were not clear enough. The joke wasn’t getting through, “Rich told the Chicago Tribune about it later. “I’m not ready to die.”
Rich was like a little brother to a whole generation of TV viewers. He was the spiky-haired son of a newspaper columnist, played by Dick Van Patten, who had to raise his eight kids by himself after his wife and the actress who played her died during the first season of the show.
IMDB.com says that from 1981 to 1982, Rich was the star of the show Code Red and from 1983 to 1985, he was the voice of Presto the Magician on Dungeons & Dragons. In two reunions of the TV show Eight Is Enough, he played his most famous role again.
But the rest of his acting career consisted of single episodes on some of the most popular TV shows of the time, like The Love Boat, The Six Million Dollar Man, Silver Spoons, and Baywatch. On IMDB, the last thing he did was play Crocodile Dundee on the 2003 show Reel Comedy.