Adam Rich, a former ‘Eight Is Enough’ child star, died at the age of 54.
Adam Rich, the child actor with a pageboy mop-top who charmed TV audiences on Eight Is Enough as “America’s little brother,” has died. He was 54.
Rich died Saturday at his home in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood, according to Lt. Aimee Earl of the Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner’s office. The cause of death was being investigated, but it was not thought to be suspicious.
Rich had a limited acting career after appearing as Nicholas Bradford, the youngest of eight children, on the ABC hit dramedy from 1977 to 1981 when he was eight years old.
He had several run-ins with police over drugs and alcohol and sought treatment at Rancho Mirage’s Betty Ford Center.
Rich suffered from a type of depression that defied treatment, and he had tried to remove the stigma associated with discussing mental illness, according to publicist Danny Deraney. Over the years, he tried various experimental cures without success.
Deraney said he and others close to Rich were concerned when they couldn’t reach him in recent weeks.
“He was just a very kind, generous, loving soul,” Deraney said of his father. “Being a famous actor was not necessarily what he desired. He didn’t have an ounce of ego.”
Rich opened up about his mental health on Twitter and revealed that he’d been sober for seven years in October. He admitted that he wasn’t perfect, citing arrests, multiple stints in rehab, multiple overdoses, and “countless detoxes (and) relapses,” and urged his nearly 19,000 followers to never give up.
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“Human beings were not designed to suffer from mental illness,” Rich said on Twitter in September. “The fact that some people regard those as weak or lacking in willpower is completely absurd… because the opposite is true! Fighting such illnesses requires a very strong person… a warrior, if you will.”
Rich shared an old photo of himself with one-time child star Mickey Rooney.
“Everyone used to tell me, ‘You are the modern-day Mickey Rooney,’” he said on Twitter. “However, when Mickey Rooney told me that himself, it meant a lot more to me!”
Rich was involved in a hoax that Might magazine published nearly 27 years ago about the actor being killed in a robbery outside a Los Angeles nightclub in 1996. The article in the obscure publication was meant to be a satire of America’s celebrity obsession, but it fizzled when the spoof was revealed.
“We were probably a little too subtle. People were confused by the joke “Rich later revealed to the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t want to die.”
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Rich played 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 the first season’s filming.
According to IMDB.com, Rich starred in Code Red from 1981 to 1982 and voiced Presto the Magician on Dungeons & Dragons from 1983 to 1985. In two Eight Is Enough TV movie reunions, he reprised his most well-known role.
However, the majority of his acting career was spent in single-episode roles on some of the most popular TV shows of the time. Including The Love Boat, The Six Million Dollar Man, Silver Spoons, and Baywatch. His most recent IMDB credit was in 2003, when he played Crocodile Dundee on Reel Comedy.