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Dick Van Patten is an actor who most TV viewers will remember as Tom Bradford, the father of the brood on Eight Is Enough.
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Both Van Patten and Brooks were avid tennis players, and they quickly became close friends and on-court partners upon meeting in the early 1970s. Brooks cast Van Patten in his 1975 show When Things Were Rotten, a spoof of the classic tale of Robin Hood. Van Patten has since appeared in such classic Mel Brooks comedies as High Anxiety (1977), Spaceballs (1987) and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).
Van Patten took his career in a new direction in 1989 when he founded Natural Balance Pet Foods, a company that makes health foods for animals. Always an animal lover, as a child Van Patten built his own menagerie and kept chameleons, snakes, toads, rats and even an alligator named Oscar. Natural Balance started out selling all-natural dog food, and now makes specially formulated foods for lions, tigers, cheetahs, polar bears, snakes and carnivorous birds. "We're feeding all the zoos in the country," Van Patten said.
In 2009, Van Patten published a memoir titled Eighty Is Not Enough. He lives with his wife Patricia in Sherman Oaks, California, where he still runs Natural Balance Pet Foods, acts and plays tennis daily. The couple's three sons—Vincent, James and Nels—all live in the area.
Dick Van Patten has enjoyed a prolific career performing hundreds of roles for millions of viewers. "I look back with a mix of emotions," he says. "Sadness for the people who are gone, nostalgia for times that have passed, but immense gratitude for the wonderful opportunities that came my way." But even after a career that spans eight decades, Van Patten still looks eagerly toward the future. He writes in his memoir, "I still wake up early to meet the new day. While I don't jump out of bed with the nimbleness of my youth, I've retained a desire to see what's new for today and what's on the horizon for tomorrow. I don't believe that will ever change."
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