Adam Rich, the child actor with a pageboy mop-top haircut who charmed TV audiences as the youngest child on Eight is Enough, died Saturday. He was 54.
Rich died at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, said Lt. Aimee Earl of the Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner’s office. The cause of death was under investigation but was not considered to be suspicious.
Rich had a limited acting career after starring at age eight as Nicholas Bradford, the youngest of eight children, on the ABC hit dramedy that ran from from 1977 to 1981.
Betty Buckley, who played his stepmother on the show, said on Instagram that she was shocked to learn of his death Sunday and referred to Rich as a light, her young pal on set and friend ever since.
“I adored him and loved working with him,” said Buckley. “He was so sweet, funny, fresh and natural. He brought a lot of joy to all of us on the show and to our audiences.”
Corey Feldman and Todd Bridges, child actors who also endured struggles later in life, expressed their condolences on social media.
‘Generous, loving soul’
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 driving under the influence in 2002 after nearly striking a parked California Highway Patrol cruiser in a freeway lane closed for maintenance. He was arrested in April 1991 for attempting to break into 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.
Thank you all for reaching out regarding Adam Rich.
If you knew Adam, you just loved the guy. And oh the stories he could tell.
Here is my statement: pic.twitter.com/3OITGnESuf
Rich suffered from depression and unsuccessfully tried experimental cures over the years, said publicist Danny Deraney. He said he and others close to Rich were worried in recent weeks when they couldn’t reach him.
“He was just a very kind, generous, 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.”
Rich discussed his mental health on social media and noted in October that he’d 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.
The only thing those suffering from a mental illness know how to do is pretend to be ok. Enough! The stigma is killing people. Be yourself. Ok, or not ok, is the only way to create change, & stomp the stigma! Heal your truth!❤️🩹#RIP💔🕺🏿tWitchBoss🕺🏿 https://t.co/o9bEpAscJ0
Rich was the little brother to a generation of TV viewers as the mop-top son of a newspaper columnist played by Dick Van Patten, who has to raise eight children alone after his wife in the show — and the actress who played her — died during filming of the first season.
But the balance of his acting career was in single-episode appearances as a youth or young adult on some of the most popular TV shows of the time: The Love Boat, The Six Million Dollar Man, Silver Spoons, and Baywatch.
Rich starred in the series Code Red from 1981-82 and voiced the character of Presto the Magician on Dungeons & Dragons from 1983-85, according to the IMDB.com. He reprised his best-known role in two Eight is Enough TV movie reunions.
Rich made a cameo appearance as himself in 2003’s Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star starring David Spade.