Eight is Enough
Eight is Enough was a television "dramedy"
series which ran on ABC from March 15, 1977 until August 29, 1981. The
show was rare in that it was one of few hour-long television series to use
a laugh track.
It centered around a Sacramento, California family with eight children
(from oldest to youngest: David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth,
Tommy, and Nicholas). The father, Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten) was a
newspaper columnist for the fictional Sacramento Register. His wife Joan
(Diana Hyland) took care of the children. Hyland was only in four episodes
before falling ill; she was written out for the remainder of the first
season. During the spring, Hyland died, and the second season began in the
fall of 1977 with the revelation that Tom had become a widower.
Tom fell in love with Sandra Sue Abbott (nicknamed "Abby,"
played by Betty Buckley), a schoolteacher who came to the house to tutor
one of his children. They were married in one of Eight is Enough's special
TV-movie broadcasts in November 1977. These two-hour television events
usually occurred during sweeps periods, and routinely grabbed viewing
figures as high as a 40 television share.
In another TV-movie event in September 1979, two of the children (David
and Susan) were married off in a special double wedding extravaganza. As
the show went on, Abby got her Ph.D. in education and started a job
counseling students at the local high school.
After the end of the show's fifth season, production costs and
declining ratings caused the show to be canceled, along with seven other
shows that season (Eight is Enough seemed to grab the most
headlines, as the press had a field day with ABC's choice to bring
"eight shows in" and kick "eight shows out"). Reunion
movies were broadcast in 1987 and 1989.
The series jumpstarted acting careers for a select few of the
"eight," and cemented teen idol status for Grant Goodeve, who
played David, and Willie Aames, who played Tommy. Aames would go on to
star with Scott Baio in Charles in Charge. Goodeve started a minor singing
career, due to his rendition of the theme "Eight is Enough to Fill
Our Lives With Love."
For some of the other children, however, success did not come and a few
ended up having personal heartache, whether it be trouble with the law
(like Adam Rich, who played Nicholas) or suicide (Lani O'Grady, who played
The show was modeled after a real-life father with eight children,
Thomas Braden, who wrote a book with the same name.
Eight is Enough was parodied on Family Guy, where it was
implied that the show's title came from how many slaps Tom was allowed to
give his daughter Nancy across the face. His other daughter Mary rushed
into the room, exclaiming "Dad! Dad! Eight is enough!"
The ages of the children are given alongside their character names;
these are their ages in the first episode in 1977.
Core cast members
- Dick Van Patten - Tom Bradford
- Diana Hyland - Joan Bradford (first season only)
- Betty Buckley - Sandra Sue Abbott Bradford ("Abby")
(seasons two through five)
- Grant Goodeve - David Bradford (23)
- Lani O'Grady - Mary Bradford (21)
- Laurie Walters - Joanie Bradford (20)
- Susan Richardson - Susan Bradford Stockwell (19)
- Dianne Kay - Nancy Bradford (18)
- Connie Needham - Elizabeth Bradford (15)
- Willie Aames - Tommy Bradford (14)
- Adam Rich - Nicholas Bradford (8)
Recurring cast members
- Brian Patrick Clarke - Merle "The Pearl" Stockwell
- Jennifer Darling - Donna (1978-1981)
- Henderson Forsythe - Big Bud
- Michael Goodrow - Ernie Fields (1979-1981)
- James Karen - Eliot Randolph
- Ralph Macchio - Jeremy Andretti (1980-1981)