LOS ANGELES (AP) — Adam Rich, the pageboy-wearing child actor who wowed television audiences as “America’s little brother” on “Eight is Enough,” has died. He was 54 years old.
Rich died Saturday at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, said Lt. Aimee Earl of the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office. The cause of death was under investigation, but it was not considered suspicious.
Rich had a limited acting career after starring at age 8 as Nicholas Bradford, the youngest of eight children, on the hit ABC drama that ran from 1977 to 1981.
He had several run-ins with police related to drugs and alcohol, and sought treatment at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage.
Rich suffered from a form of depression that defied treatment and had tried to erase the stigma of speaking out about mental illness, publicist Danny Deraney said. He tried unsuccessfully experimental cures over the years.
Deraney said he and others close to Rich had been concerned in recent weeks when they were unable to reach him.
“He was a very kind, generous and 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 opened up about his mental health on Twitter, noting in October that he had 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.
“Human beings were not created to endure mental illness,” Rich tweeted in September. “The mere fact that some people consider them weak or lacking in will is totally laughable… because it is the opposite! It takes a very, very strong person…a warrior if you will…to fight such diseases.”
Rich posted a photo of himself from his heyday with former child star Mickey Rooney.
“Everyone used to tell me: ‘You’re modern Mickey Rooney,’” he tweeted. “But when Mickey Rooney told me that very thing, it meant so much more to me!”
Nearly 27 years ago, Rich participated in a hoax published by Might magazine about the actor’s death in a robbery outside a Los Angeles nightclub in 1996. The article in the little-known magazine was meant to be a satire of the obsession with US celebrities, but it fell through when the parody was revealed.
“I think we were too subtle. People weren’t getting the joke,” Rich later told the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t want to be dead.”
Rich was the little brother of a generation of TV viewers as the mop son of a newspaper columnist played by Dick Van Patten, who has to raise eight children alone after his wife on the show, and the actress who played her. he played, died during the filming of the first season.
Rich starred on the series “Code Red” from 1981 to 1982 and voiced the character Presto the Magician on “Dungeons & Dragons” from 1983 to 1985, according to IMDB.com. He reprized the best-known role of his in two reunion TV movies “Eight is Enough.”
But the rest of his acting career was built around single-episode appearances on some of the most popular TV shows of the day: “The Love Boat,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Silver Spoons,” and “Baywatch.” “. His most recent credit listed on IMDB was playing Crocodile Dundee in “Reel Comedy” in 2003.
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