Adam Rich, a young actor best known for playing “America’s little brother” on the television series Eight Is Enough, has passed away. He was 54.
According to Lt. Aimee Earl of the Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner’s office, Rich passed away on Saturday at his home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Although the reason for death was being looked into, it was not seen as suspicious.
After appearing as Nicholas Bradford, the youngest of eight children, in the ABC blockbuster dramedy from 1977 to 1981, Rich had a limited acting career.
He experienced several drugs- and alcohol-related run-ins with the law and sought treatment at the Rancho Mirage Betty Ford Center.
According to publicist Danny Deraney, Rich battled a form of depression that resisted therapy and wanted to remove the stigma associated with discussing mental illness. Over time, he attempted many experimental treatments without results.
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Deraney claimed that in recent weeks when they couldn’t get in touch with Rich, they were concerned.
“He was just a very kind, generous, 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 shared information about his mental health on Twitter and revealed that he had been sober for seven years in October. He acknowledged his shortcomings, including arrests, numerous rehab stays, multiple overdoses, and “countless detoxes (and) relapses,” and he implored his nearly 19,000 followers never to give up.
“Human beings weren’t built to endure mental illness,” Rich tweeted in September. “The mere fact that some people consider those to be weak or lack will is laughable … because it’s the total opposite! It takes a strong person … a warrior if you will … to battle such illnesses.”
Rich uploaded a photo of himself with former kid star Mickey Rooney during his glory days.
“Everyone used to say to me, ‘You are the modern-day Mickey Rooney,'” he tweeted. “But when Mickey Rooney told me that himself, it meant much more to me!”
Rich took part in a scam that Might magazine perpetrated over 27 years ago about the actor being slain in a heist outside a Los Angeles bar in 1996. The article in the obscure journal was meant to be a satire on America’s fascination with celebrities, but it failed when the joke was discovered.
“I think we were a little too subtle. People were not getting the joke,” Rich later told the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t want to be dead.”
As the mop-top son of a newspaper columnist played by Dick Van Patten, who must raise eight children by himself when his wife in the show—and the actress who played her—died during the first season’s production, Rich served as the younger brother to a generation of TV fans.
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According to IMDB.com, Rich played the role of Presto the Magician on Dungeons & Dragons from 1983 to 1985 and was a cast member of the television show Code Red from 1981 to 1982. In two Eight Is Enough TV movie reunions, he again played his most prominent role.
However, he spent most of his acting career making one-off cameos on some of the most well-liked TV series of the time, including Baywatch, The Love Boat, The Six Million Dollar Man, Silver Spoons, and The Love Boat. According to his most recent IMDB entry, he appeared as Crocodile Dundee in Reel Comedy in 2003.
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