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What Happened to Laurie Walters, Joanie Bradford From Eight Is Enough

Eight Is Enough was an American television series that ran for five seasons on the ABC network starting in 1977. Based on the memoirs of newspaper columnist Tom Braden, the show followed the story of a family with eight children. In this video, we’ll be examining the life of the actress who played the third-oldest of these children, Laurie Walters. Join Facts Verse as we attempt to uncover what happened to Laurie Walters, Joanie Bradford from Eight Is Enough.

Laurie Walters was born on January 8 of the year 1947. She was born in San Francisco, California, which was the perfect birthplace for the young star to dream of starting an acting career. She took on an affinity for the art of acting at an early age, staying in the area and pursuing a career in the profession as soon as she graduated high school. One of the actress’s earliest notable roles was in the film The Harrad Experiment, which also featured the popular actress Tippi Hedren. The film was a coming-of-age story that revolved around the students of the fictional Harrad College as they experimented with their sexuality. As one might expect, the film was a direct product of the sexual revolution and the concept of “free love” that had been born out of the 1960s. She was also featured in that film’s follow-up, 1974’s Harrad Summer.

Another early big break for Laurie came in the form of the 1973 horror film Warlock Moon. That low-budget film saw Laurie taking on the starring role, and the attention she was to receive lead to her getting some noticeable television roles. These roles included stints on on television shows such as Happy Days, The Rookies, and Cannon. However, her most prominent role was to come in the form of the 1977 show Eight Is Enough.

While Laurie’s early roles had given her a chance to experiment, her role in Eight is Enough promised her the chance to truly be seen. The show was based off of a book that had been written by newspaper columnist Tom Braden. The book detailed the true story of Braden and his wife as they attempted to raise their eight children. Dick Van Patten was cast as the father, whose name in the sitcom was changed to Tom Bradford. The character in the show was portrayed as having a job at a fictional newspaper called the Sacramento Register, harkening back to the profession of the show’s real-life inspiration. The Bradford family lived in Sacramento, California, and consisted of Tom, his wife, and their eight children. The names of the children, in descending order from oldest to youngest, were David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy, and Nicholas. Of course, Laurie was hired to play the part of Joanie Bradford, the third-oldest of the eight children.

The show had a solid backbone and concept revolving around the husband and wife team navigating the difficult task of raising their eight kids. However, fate quickly threw a wrench into the works. Actress Diana Hyland had been cast to play Tom Bradford’s wife, Joan Bradford. Only a couple of episodes into filming, Diana Hyland sadly passed away as the result of a breast cancer diagnosis. Still, the show went on without her. The character of Joan was written off of the show, and Tom was eventually given a new love interest in the form of a schoolteacher who came over to tutor one of the kids. There were several made-for-television movies made centering around the show, and the first one saw Tom and his new love interest getting married. However, the true stars of the show were inarguably the eight children to whom the title referred. Among them stood Laurie Walters as Joanie, giving the performance her all. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support for more content in the future! As well, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

Eight Is Enough went on to become a fairly huge hit with audiences, thanks in no small part to the show’s unique tone. Given it’s real-life inspiration, the show took a somewhat realistic look at family life that was nestled halfway between a typical television comedy sitcom and a more mature drama. The show was certainly an early pioneer of the genre that was soon going to come to be known to the world as the “dramedy”. As well, the show was largely aided by a fantastic ensemble cast. All eight of the Bradford children were brought to life by incredible performances, including Laurie Walters as Joanie Bradford.

Although Laurie certainly gave the performance her all, she considered her role on the show somewhat of a mixed blessing. While the show did give her more exposure as an actress than she had ever previously obtained, the actress began to feel that her time on the screen was being cut short to make way for her on-screen siblings. More troubling to Laurie, however, was the realization that most of the men on the production were getting paid more than the women, regardless of their creative input. When Laurie learned of this, she began rallying the other women on the set to band together and ask for a pay increase. According to her, she thought “the women ought to join forces and negotiate together”.

While Laurie’s heart was surely in the right place, she eventually stopped pursuing this matter out of fear that her character might end up being written off of the show. The production team had already showed that they were willing to move on from the loss of a major actress, and Laurie wasn’t prepared to take that risk. Although she had qualms with her position on the show, she felt that she’d be better off there than trying to find roles somewhere else. In the end, she felt that the exposure that she was gaining from the show could potentially pay off in better roles later on, after the show had run it’s course. However, this didn’t exactly turn out to be the case. Although Laurie Walters appears to have few regrets, she never got a role quite as prominent as the one she played on Eight Is Enough.

Eight Is Enough came to an end after it’s fifth season in 1981. Laurie returned to reprise her roles twice in two made-for-television movies that served as show reunions. One of these films came out in 1987, and another one followed it in 1989. The show continued to be popular in syndicated reruns, although Laurie’s career in Hollywood never quite took off after it’s end. She went on to make minor appearances in some other television shows over the following years, including Columbo, Cheers, Highway to Heaven, and Fantasy Island. Eventually, the best roles that the actress could get were in Southern California dinner theater productions. Although the actress’s career in Hollywood appeared to be over, her story certainly wasn’t.

In 1999, Laurie moved on from acting and took on two new passions. One of these passions was environmentalism, and the other passion was her new husband, John Slade. John Slade was a fellow actor, as well as a teacher and musician. To the public, he was perhaps best known for small roles in films such as LA Confidential. After the two got married, Walters found work coordinating the volunteer program for the Los Angeles organization known as TreePeople. As the name might suggest, the role of this organization was to promote the growth of trees in the Los Angeles area. Laurie remained happily married to John Slade for nearly two decades, until his tragic death at the hands of a drunk driver in 2017. He was killed while driving home from the California Lutheran University, where he had been passionately directing a production of William Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Laurie and John had multiple sons that were devastated at the loss of their father. Today, Laurie can still sometimes be caught acting in small theater production arounds Southern California, However, her biggest current passion remains her environmental work, as well as her more recent role as a real-life grandmother to her son Max’s children.

While Joanie Bradford wasn’t always the focal point of Eight Is Enough, the character certainly had her fair share of memorable moments. Comment down below to share your favorite Joanie Bradford moment from the show, or if you think that Laurie Walters deserved more recognition after the dramedy came to an end. As always, hit the like button to show your support for more content in the future, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when that content is on it’s way!

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