Adam Rich, former child star of ‘Eight Is Enough,’ dies at 54

Adam Rich appears in a Van Nuys courtroom in 1991.
(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

Adam Rich, the former child actor known for playing little Nicholas Bradford in the hit family sitcom “Eight Is Enough,” has died. He was 54.

Rich died Saturday in Brentwood, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical-Examiner Coroner confirmed to the Associated Press. The cause of death was under investigation.

Rich made his TV debut in a 1976 episode of “The Six Million Dollar Man” before landing his breakout role as the youngest child of the Bradford family on “Eight Is Enough,” which ran from 1977 to 1981. The popular series made Rich one of the biggest child stars of the period. In the ‘80s he voiced Presto the Magician in the series “Dungeons & Dragons” and portrayed Danny Blake in “Code Red,” as well as appearing in episodes of “CHiPs,” “Fantasy Island,” “Baywatch” and other shows.

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Rich lived with depression and was repeatedly beset by legal troubles related to drugs and alcohol in his 20s. He sought treatment at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage and became sober later in life.

In the 1990s, Rich permitted San Francisco’s now-defunct Might magazine to publish a fake story about his murder in a divisive effort to hold a mirror up to society’s fixation on celebrity deaths.

“Adam was simply a wonderful guy,” Rich’s publicist, Danny Deraney, said in a statement shared Sunday on Twitter.

“He was kind, generous and a warrior in the fight against mental illness. Adam did not have an ounce of ego. He was unselfish and always looked out for those he cared about. Which is why many people who grew up with him feel a part of their childhood gone, and sad today. He really was America’s Little Brother.”

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Betty Buckley — who portrayed Nicholas Bradford’s stepmother, Abby Bradford, in “Eight Is Enough” — shared a lengthy and heartfelt tribute to her “young pal” on Instagram.


“I adored him and loved working with him in our scenes together on the show,” Buckley wrote. “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.

“Adam and I have remained friends all of these years. His love and support have always meant a lot to me. I am shocked by the news I received this morning of his death. Sending my love and deepest condolences to his friends and family. In recent years Adam dedicated himself to providing inspiration for others with mental and emotional illness. I will miss him greatly.”

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Other entertainment figures who honored Rich on social media included actor and filmmaker Jay Duplass, author Steven Rowley, comedian-actor John Fugelsang, “Diff’rent Strokes” actor Todd Bridges and “Too Close for Comfort” actor Lydia Cornell.

“It’s almost impossible to overstate how much I loved ‘Eight Is Enough’ as a kid,” Rowley tweeted. “Even though I was the oldest in my family, I always related to Nicholas — the youngest.”

“They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” Duplass tweeted. “RIP Adam Rich.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.