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Dick Van Patten/Tom

Eight is Enough Messageboard

Questions about Dick Van Patten/Tom Bradford

Re: Meeting Dick Van Patten--revised
 Sunday, 30-Jan-2000 23:37:32 

      Dick Van Patten is so indelibly identified in my mind with his role as Tom Bradford that I
      actually had a mixed reaction upon reading that he was coming to Orlando for a book signing.

      As joyful as I was at the opportunity to meet him, I was equally fearful that it could turn 
      out to be terribly disillusioning. After all, the disparity between performer and 
      performance is a subject that provides nearly two-thirds of the programming on the E! 
      network in of itself. In these cynical times, it's hard to believe that a Tom Bradford 
      could even exist.

      However unfair it was to expect Mr. Van Patten to be anything like Tom Bradford, you fans 
      of the show should understand why I did: his portrayal as the head of the Bradford 
      household resonates with as genuiness that makes it impossible to see him as anyone else.

      The days leading up to the momentous event were fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. 
      It seemed as though my faith in humanity hinged upon this meeting.
      While driving from my home in Daytona to Orlando on that Sat. morning in April of 1997,
      I rehearsed over and over again what it was I was going to say to him, trying to 
      encapsulate in a few brief sentences the following:

      1. Even though its fashions were dated, the shows message of family unity and unconditional 
      love were more relevant than ever before. (Admittedly, the shows obligation to its laugh 
      track sometimes diminished the power of this message by succumbing to contrived, 
      sitcom-like silliness.)
      2. Tom Bradford's sensible and caring approach to raising children was an illustration of 
      exemplary parenting that would be an inspiration for generations to come.
      3. Finally, that watching "Eight is Enough" on f/x was always a highlight of my day.

      Normally, I am a very composed--even reserved--person, but by the time I joined the 
      crowd of about 30 on the second floor of the Barnes and Noble to await his arrival, 
      I was trembling uncontrollably.

      The book he was touring behind was a guide he'd co-written to getting children started 
      in the entertainment industry. Considering Hollywood's reputation for burying its young 
      and the troubled lives of so many former child stars--questions about Adam Rich's own 
      emotional stability were being raised around this time by his part in a "Might"
      cover story that fabricated his death--, I hoped that Mr. Van Patten was prepared to 
      defend himself for advocating such a career choice.

      Then Mr. Van Patten appeared and he was just as warm, easygoing and unpretentious in person 
      as his TV image. He said that he maintained a close relationship with the other cast members
      on the show and refuted criticism of his advice by fondly recounting his own experiences as 
      a child actor and citing success stories like Ron Howard.

      As he autographed my copy of the book, I reverentially said: "It's a great honor to meet 
      you. I drove from Daytona to see you." Being in his presence, I was too awe-struck to 
      recall my planned speech. He smiled, thanked me for coming, posed for a picture and wished 
      me a safe trip back. It remains to this day one of the most cherished moments of my life.

      I was heartbroken to read on this site that the Bradford house was demolished and the 
      neighborhood is now unrecognizable. Was there no campaign undertaken to save it?



Re: Meeting Dick Van Patten
 Saturday, 15-Jan-2000 08:05:13 

      A great story,and wonderfully told! I envy you meeting Mr. Van Patten. You verified what 
      I always thought to be true...that he was probably as decent and kind a man as he portrayed 
      on TV. (A little bit of the performer's true self can't help but creep into their TV persona).

      I guess Dick Van Patten was to our generation what Robert Young of Father Knows Best was to 
      the 1950s generation of TV fans...the epitome of the best kind of Dad...involved, 
      concerned, hard-working but committed to his wife and kids, firm but loving, just a decent 
      human being. Sounds like in real life, Dick Van Patten is much like Tom Bradford. 
      I think the man's a true credit to his profession. Meeting him must be a great memory for you!


Subject: I Saw Dick Van Patten Tonight
Name: Nathan
Date: Friday, 01-Oct-1999 02:39:15
I went to a party to celebrate release of the Waltons Christmas CD (yes, it's true) and Dick Van Patten was there. I don't know who he was with, but I was about 5 ft. from him at various points (I happened to be sitting near the buffet line). He looks great- not much different except for some thinning hair on top. Subject: Tom's Wedding
Name: fade2black@loop.com
Date: Saturday, 07-Mar-98 23:00:35
I just recently started watching old reruns of 'Eight is Enough', and I noticed there was a Christmas episode where Tommy was having trouble with it being the first Christmas without his Mom. So that means his mother had been dead for less than a year. That did seem to be a quick wedding, but I think the show probably just wasn't working without a mother. I mean, how could Tom manage all those kids by himself? Plus, with a step-mother thrown into the picture, that created some conflict. Just my two cents...

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