Eight Is Enough was a hit comedy-drama series that first aired on March 15th, 1977. It ran for five seasons before it eventually ended on May 23rd, 1981. The show was based on the life of a real man by the name of Tom Braden. Tom Braden worked as a newspaper columnist, and he had a total of eight children. He wrote a book about his experiences in fatherhood, which was also titled Eight Is Enough.
A man named William Blinn, who worked as a television writer, was inspired by Tom Braden’s story. He realized its potential as a television show, and he worked hard to bring the book to life. The show did a great job of capturing the life of a parent. The term “comedy-drama” describes this show best because parenthood can’t really be just one or the other. While the show featured plenty of humor, the writers weren’t afraid to touch on very serious subjects, as well.
For example, the first episode alone featured Tom Braden’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, being arrested for possessing narcotics. This was an interesting choice, for many shows in the 1970s that centered around families were far more comedic. Eight Is Enough brought a surprising twist to television, especially considering most people would automatically assume the show to be a comedy.
Throughout the show, Tom Braden and his wife Joan have to deal with the ups and downs of parenthood, which was extremely relatable to other parents throughout the country. Many Americans were afraid to admit their struggles and more likely to sweep their familial problems under the rug. However, Eight Is Enough encouraged people to accept and analyze their own problems.
This revolutionary decision to talk about such complicated issues on television led Eight Is Enough to become an incredibly popular show. It even reached the top thirty TV shows on the Nielsen rating for its first four seasons!
At first, the show seemed to leave a positive impact on its young actors, many of whom went on to act successfully in many other productions. However, over time, it seemed increasingly obvious that the show’s mark wasn’t all positive.
In today’s video, we’re going to look at four young actors from the show who ended up struggling through addiction and mental illness, which left the show with a dark legacy. Make sure you stick around long enough to see which actor was able to remarkably turn his life around!
Susan Richardson played the character Susan Bradford in Eight Is Enough, the fourth-oldest child of the Bradford siblings. Her acting career began when she was relatively young, and her first role was in the film American Graffiti. However, her largest role by far was on Eight Is Enough. While she was on the show, however, she became pregnant. The writers decided to roll with it, and they wrote her character to be pregnant, as well. While having a child should be a joyous moment for anyone, it became a source of stress for Susan.
Susan heard rumors that, if she was unable to lose the weight she had gained from her pregnancy, she would be fired. Sadly, too many women are forced to meet unrealistic body standards for the sake of films and television. Terrified that she would be out of work if she couldn’t lose a lot of weight fast, Susan turned to a dangerous drug; cocaine. Because it is a stimulant, cocaine often results in weight loss. However, it also comes with many horrifying side effects.
The use of cocaine had a horrible impact on Susan’s life. She came forward with a news story in 1987, when she claimed she had been kidnapped by filmmakers from North Korea. After questioning, journalists became aware that her story simply didn’t make sense, and it was eventually decided that her wild story was the result of her addiction to cocaine. While Susan Richardson’s performance on Eight Is Enough was quite impressive and could have led to a prolific acting career, her downward spiral with drugs took away any opportunity for a successful life. In 2010, when the remaining cast members of Eight Is Enough got together for a reunion, Susan Richardson didn’t even show up. If you are also saddened by Susan Richardson’s wasted potential, click the like button to let us know!
Willie Aames played Tommy Bradford on Eight Is Enough, and while his life was filled with many struggles, he ended up in a more positive position than Adam Rich and Susan Richardson. His role as Tommy Bradson is probably his best remembered, although he did appear in many other television shows. He played Buddy Lembeck in the 1980s show Charles In Charge. When he reached his twenties, Willie found himself indulging in the luxuries of many Hollywood stars. He began to party at the Playboy mansion, where he was exposed to many new experiences, although not all of them were positive.
Even while he was still acting, Willie Aames also fell victim to cocaine, and he found himself spending all his money on the drug. His addiction only grew worse over the years until, in 2008, he finally acknowledged his serious problem. Thankfully, unlike Adam Rich, his attempt at rehabilitation was successful. After hitting rock bottom, Aames was determined to come out on top of his addiction. He began working as a Cruise Director for Oceania, a much humbler job than being a Hollywood star. Nonetheless, he embraced his new, slower lifestyle.
Later in life, Willie Aames began work as a spokesperson to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease. It is truly amazing how Willie Aames was able to successfully turn his life around and eventually use his fame to raise awareness for a serious problem.
While Willie Aames was lucky enough to turn his life around, not every cast member from Eight Is Enough found the same fate. At the end of this video, we’ll reveal one cast member whose addiction went too far.
Adam Rich played the youngest son of the Bradford bunch; Nicholas Bradford. His character was one of the most popular, especially among the younger audience. Many young boys envied his adorable bangs and charming smile. His hairstyle became one of the most popular in the following years. Sadly, his young and wholesome energy couldn’t last forever.
While some child actors go on to become famous actors as adults, this isn’t always the case. Many young actors become so pigeon-holed into their first roles that casting directors can’t imagine them as any other character. For poor Adam Rich, this was most certainly the case.
At first, it seemed Adam Rich could have a promising and prolific career. He starred in a Disney film entitled The Devil and Max Devlin in 1981, directly after Eight Is Enough finished. After a few more films and guest-star appearances in various shows, however, Adam Rich found himself in a sad predicament; Hollywood was no longer interested in him. After he began attending high school, Rich admitted in an interview that he fell in with the wrong crowd of people. Like Susan Richardson, he turned to cocaine to alleviate his stress. He dropped out of high school and fell in and out of various drug rehabilitation programs.
In 1989, Adam Rich nearly lost his life to a Valium overdose. Just a year later, he was arrested for drunk driving. Sadly, after many more arrests and failed attempts at rehabilitation, Adam Rich remains heavily addicted to various substances. As of 2013, he has attempted to appeal to various producers with TV show ideas, but to no avail.
Lani O’Grady played Mary Bradford, and her story is certainly the saddest. Even while she was acting as the stoic Mary on the show, Lani suffered from a grave anxiety disorder. Her panic attacks affected her deeply, making it difficult to function on set. Her doctors prescribed her a laundry list of medications, including Librium, Xanax, and Valium. Soon enough, she became heavily addicted. After attending five different rehabilitation centers, but to no avail, Lani O’Grady locked herself in her home in 1993, where she became a victim of severe agoraphobia.
For many years after, Lani O’Grady attempted to get help from various other rehabilitation centers, but they still didn’t work. After checking herself into a hospital, Lani O’Grady claimed that she was sexually assaulted by a member of the staff. Sadly, she didn’t have enough evidence to launch a police investigation. She attempted to sue the hospital as a result, but the world will never learn how the court case would have ended up. Tragically, Lani O’Grady died of an overdose in 2001.
Lani O’Grady’s story is a sad one. While Willie Aames was lucky enough to recover, Lani O’Grady’s many attempts at rehabilitation simply didn’t work. Her addiction to the very drugs that were supposed to alleviate her anxiety ended up causing her death. Had she not succumbed to her addiction, who knows what amazing things she could have accomplished in her life?
Were you more surprised to learn that Lani O’Grady, Adam Rich, and Susan Richardson all succumbed to their addictions, or that Willie Aames was able to overcome his? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!