Dick Van Patten
Dick Van Patten as Grocer
Dick Van Patten appears as a local grocer in the episode titled "My Master, the Chili King" in Season 5, the final episode of the series.
General Information:
Date of birth: (1928-12-09)9 December 1928
Born in: Kew Gardens, New York
Died: 23 June 2015(2015-06-23) (aged 86)
Died in: Santa Monica, California
Series/character information
Appeared on/in: I Dream of Jeannie
Number of
"My Master, the Chili King" in Season 5
Character played/
Appeared as:
Grocery store owner

Richard Vincent "Dick" Van Patten (9 December 1928 - 23 June 2015) was an American actor. He appeared on I Dream of Jeannie as a grocery store owner who is perplexed at the sudden appearance of Cousin Tony's Texas Chili, a product which Jeannie was able to blink onto shelves of his store, as well as other grocery stores in the area to appease Tony's huckster cousin Arvel, who tries to solicit a commission on the cans from him and all the other local grocers, in the Season 5 episode titled "My Master, the Chili King", the series' final episode.

A veteran performer of stage, film, and TV for over eight decades, Dick is widely recognized to nostalgic TV viewers for his role as Tom Bradford, patriarch of the Bradford family on the 1977-81 ABC-TV series Eight Is Enough.


Early life

Born in Kew Gardens, New York, Dick was born the son of Josephine Rose (née Acerno), who worked in advertising, and Richard Byron Van Patten, an interior decorator.[1] His mother was of Italian descent, while his father had Dutch and English ancestry. He began work as a model and actor as a child making his Broadway theatre debut at the age of seven. He was successful on the New York stage, appearing in a dozen theatrical plays before reaching his teen years. He later moved to Hollywood and began a lengthy career in film and television.[2]


Dick's long career in show business began as a child actor on Broadway in 1937 in The Eternal Road as Dickie Van Patten; he went on to appear in twelve other Broadway plays as a teenager. He moved on to television and movies with the role of Nels Hansen in the 1949 TV series I Remember Mama, which ran from 1949 to 1957, [3]

In addition to his appearance on Sanford and Son, Dick has also appeared in episodes of Banacek, Arrested Development, The Brian Keith Show, Cannon, The Streets of San Francisco, and Happy Days. In 1999 and 2000, he costarred with Hugh O'Brian, Richard Roundtree, Deborah Winters, and Richard Anderson in the Warren Chaney TV miniseries, Y2K - World in Crisis.[4][5][6]

Personal life

Dick is the older brother of actress Joyce Van Patten and the older half-brother of film director Tim Van Patten and the uncle of actress Talia Balsam. He has been married to Patricia Poole (aka Pat Van Patten) since 1954.

Dick and wife Patricia have three sons, all actors: Vincent Van Patten (who appeared on the 1978-81 CBS series The White Shadow as Salami), Nels Van Patten, and Jimmy Van Patten. Nels is named for the character Dick played on the CBS TV series Mama.

Dick Van Patten is related to several other well-known actors through marriages. His sister Joyce married actor Martin Balsam. They are the parents of actress Talia Balsam. Talia's first husband was actor George Clooney and she is now married to Mad Men actor John Slattery. Dick's son Vince Van Patten is married to Days of our Lives and former The Young and the Restless actress Eileen Davidson. Dick's other son Nels was married to former Baywatch regular Nancy.

Illness and death

In January 2006, Van Patten was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering a diabetic stroke. Van Patten, who suffered from Type 2 diabetes, made a full recovery.

Van Patten died at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, 23 June 2015, at age 86. Complications from diabetes were the listed cause.[7]

Willie Aames, who played son Tommy Bradford on Eight Is Enough, called his television father "truly a gem [who] will be missed. ... As Dick always said, 'Remember our times together, gang ... Cause these ARE the good ole' days".[8] Betty Buckley, Van Patten's co-star on the series, recalled, "Every day on the set he was a happy, jovial person, always generous and ready to play, tease, and always keep us all laughing. He was the consummate professional, a wonderful actor, master of comedy, and a kind and generous human being."[8]

He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Santa Monica.


  1. Dick Van Patten Biography (1928-)
  2. Dick Van Patten at NNDB
  3. i remember mama-dies-at-87.html Rosemary Rice, Oldest Daughter of TV’s ‘Mama,’ Dies at 87, by Daniel E. Slotnik, New York Times article, 2012-08-22, first accessed 2012-08-26.
  4. Internet Movie Database (World in Crisis) [1]
  5. Screened Reviews (Y2K: World in Crisis) [2]
  6. LibraryThing Review [3]
  7. Dagan, Carmel (June 23, 2015). "Dick Van Patten, Eight Is Enough and Love Boat Star, Dies at 86". Variety. Retrieved 23 June2015. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Eight Is Enough" star dies at 86", Laredo Morning Times, 24 June 2015, p. 11A

External links

  • 2007 Interview in the Sherman Oaks Sun, page 16