“Eight Is Enough”

bradfords, with joanIf you grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, you were more than likely familiar with “Eight Is Enough”, the dramedy which ran on ABC for five seasons. The show revolved around the Bradford family, a large, loving family in Sacramento, CA. Dad Tom Bradford was a newspaper columnist, his wife Joan a photographer in her spare time. They were the parents of eight outgoing, rambunctious kids. Ranging in age from eight to twenty three, they were uniquely different in looks and persona. There was the hot blonde named Nancy. She was always trying to find herself. Susan was the feisty redhead, while oldest daughter Mary wanted to be a doctor. Nicholas was the youngest. He was often not taken very seriously by his older siblings, but was loved. The others were David, Joanie, Elizabeth, and Tommy. The series revolved around the ups and downs of life, and the affect upon each individually, as well as the family as a whole. The show was actually developed from a book written by columnist Tom Braeden. Published in 1975, it told about the adventures he and his wife (also named Joan) had raising their eight kids.

bradfords, with abbyAs the show was getting underway, Diana Hyland, who portrayed Joan, fell ill with breast cancer. She was forced to leave the series, and passed away a short time later. She was 41 years old. Her passing left a huge whole in the cast, as everyone on the set adored her. For a while, Tom was a single parent. ABC did not care for the premise, so they decided Tom needed to get married right away. Enter Sandra Sue Abbott, affectionately known as “Abby”. She was Tommy’s tutor following a football accident. Tom and Abby soon fell in love, and were married. However, “Eight Is Enough” was a realistic show. While the kids accepted her rather quickly and liked her, they continued to call her Abby, and each had issues with her at least once. It was refreshing to watch, as it depicted how a real family would have handled a situation of that nature.

I was very shocked and disappointed when “Eight Is Enough” was canceled in 1981. It did not quite finish running its course. There were two reunion movies in the late ’80s. Both were a delight to watch. In real life, the cast has undergone serious issues. Both Dianne Kay and Connie Needham successfully beat cancer. Willie Aames filed for bankruptcy. Adam Rich struggled with drugs. Susan Richardson dropped out of show business, and remains estranged from her TV family. Lani O’ Grady lost her battle with addiction.

One thing has not changed, and that is how heartwarming and fun it still is to watch. The closeness of a large family, as they all try to find their own niche in life. The ’70s lingo, fashions, and culture. The perfect mix of comedy and drama within each episode. I call it one of our treasures, which is somewhat more hidden today.

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~ by kmnnz on January 15, 2013.

2 Responses to ““Eight Is Enough””

  1. Hey Kelli,

    One thing about Eight is Enough – who can’t forget that great theme song, sung by Grant Goodeve, starting with season 3? 🙂

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