Adam Rich, Child Actor Who Starred on ‘Eight Is Enough,’ Dead at 54

“He really was America’s little brother,'” rep says of sitcom star

Adam Rich, the child actor who starred in the late Seventies series Eight Is Enough, has died at the age of 54.

Rich’s rep Danny Deraney confirmed his client’s death Saturday on social media. An official cause of death is pending a scheduled autopsy, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office told NBC News.

“Adam was simply a wonderful guy,” Deraney tweeted. “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 like part of their childhood gone, and sad today. He really was America’s little brother.”

Rich was best known playing the pageboy-haired Nicholas Bradford on the Dick Van Patten-starring series Eight Is Enough; Rich — with just a few acting credits under his belt — was just eight years old when he was cast as the youngest of eight Bradford siblings, a role that earned him the nickname “America’s Little Brother.”

Following Eight Is Enough’s five-season run, Rich continued to find acting work in his teens with one-off appearances like CHiPs, The Love Boat and Silver Spoons, as well as a pair of late-Eighties Eight Is Enough reunion specials.

However, Rich’s subsequent career never matched his success of the show, and he faced the same personal issues that plague many child actors of the era: Rich struggled with substance issues — he nearly died from a Valium overdose in 1989 — and run-ins with the law, including an arrest for breaking into a pharmacy in 1991.

After essentially retiring from acting in 1993 following an appearance on Baywatch, Rich would sometimes resurface in ways that touched on his status as a child actor: He and others like him cameoed as themselves in the David Space comedy Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, and Rich also willingly participated in his own death hoax in 1993 for a Dave Eggers-penned piece in Might magazine.

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In recent years, however, Rich used his platform on social media to advocate for mental health and embrace the legacy of his former show.

“I’m grateful for the joy felt while working on ‘Eight’!…,” Rich said in a video interview he posted to Instagram in 2021. “I do hope it may have brought you some joy as well.”

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