Episodes: 112 (hour)
TV show dates: March 15, 1977 — May 23, 1981
Series status: Cancelled
Performers include: Dick Van Patten, Lani O’Grady, Susan Richardson, Laurie Walters, Connie Needham, Adam Rich, Grant Goodeve, Dianne Kay, Willie Aames, Betty Buckley, Brian Patrick Clarke, Ralph Macchio, Joan Prather, Michael Thoma, Virginia Vincent, Nicholas Pryor, Larry Gelman, Jennifer Darling, K.C. Martel, Janis Paige, Gary Imhoff, Maggie Munro, Michele Greene, Michael Griswold, and Diana Hyland.
TV show description:
Newspaper columnist Thomas Braden was the inspiration for this comedy/drama about a real-life family with eight children. Braden had written a book about his family life which was used as a loose basis for the show. Originally the show was to be about an average nuclear family with both parents, but star Diana Hyland became ill after just four episodes were filmed. She died less than two weeks after the first episode aired and the producers decided not to recast her, choosing to make Tom a widower instead.
Dick Van Patten stars as Tom Bradford, a newspaper columnist at the Sacramento Register, and Diana Hyland as his wife, Joan. Their eight children –- David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy, and Nicholas — range in age from adults to young children. They remember the names by using the sentence, “Never Try Eating Nectarines Since Juice May Dispense.”
When the show starts out, David (Grant Goodeve) is the only child living on his own. Mary (Lani O’Grady) is the second oldest child, studying to be a doctor. Joanie (Laurie Walters), Susan (Susan Richardson), and Nancy (Dianne Kay) are in their late teens/early twenties and studying acting, fashion, and modeling. Elizabeth and Tommy (Connie Needham and Willie Aames) are in high school, and the baby of the family, Nicholas (Adam Rich), is still in grade school.
As the second season begins, we learn that Joan has died a year earlier. As the show progresses, Tom falls in love and marries Abby (Betty Buckley), a schoolteacher, who had originally met the family when she was tutoring Tommy.
Later in the series, Susan gets married to baseball player Merle “The Pearl” Stockwell (Brian Patrick Clarke), and David marries Janet McArthur (Joan Prather), in a special double wedding. Cousin Jeremy (Ralph Macchio) moves into the Bradford family home towards the end of the series.
Episode 112 — Father Knows Best?
Jeremy’s father wants him back and David attends his high-school reunion.
First aired: May 23, 1981.