Fentanyl Killed 'America's Little Brother'

Medical examiner blames the drug in death of former child star Adam Rich
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 9, 2023 12:21 AM CST
Updated Jun 25, 2023 9:00 AM CDT
'America's Little Brother' Dead at 54
One-time child actor Adam Rich, who starred in the 1970s TV show "Eight is Enough," walks out of a sheriff's station after posting bail in City of Industry, Calif., Dec. 18, 2002.   (AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju)
UPDATE Jun 25, 2023 9:00 AM CDT

A medical examiner has determined that former child star Adam Rich of Eight Is Enough fame died of the effects of the drug fentanyl, reports NBC News. The 54-year-old's death in January at his residence also was found to be accidental, according to the Los Angeles Medical Examiner's Office. Rich had long talked openly about his decades-long battles with substance abuse and depression.

Jan 9, 2023 12:21 AM CST

Adam Rich, the child actor with a pageboy mop-top who charmed TV audiences as "America's little brother" on Eight is Enough, has died. He was 54. Rich died Saturday at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, said Lt. Aimee Earl of the Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner's office. The cause of death was under investigation but was not considered to be suspicious, the AP reports. Rich had a limited acting career after starring at age 8 as Nicholas Bradford, the youngest of eight children, on the ABC hit dramedy that ran from 1977 to 1981.

Betty Buckley, who played his stepmother on the show, said on Instagram that she was shocked to learn of his death Sunday and referred to Rich as a "light," her "young pal" on set and friend ever since. "I adored him and loved working with him," said Buckley, who posted photos from the show of the two of them together on a swing set, on horseback, and with her arm around him while he was sleeping. "He was so sweet, funny, fresh and natural. He brought a lot of joy to all of us on the show and to our audiences."

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Rich's public life after stardom was similar to that other child actors whose promising careers are later derailed by drugs and alcohol, and run-ins with the law; he said on Twitter in October that he'd been sober for seven years. He suffered from a type of depression that defied treatment and he had tried to erase the stigma of talking about mental illness, said publicist Danny Deraney. He unsuccessfully tried experimental cures over the years. "He was just a very kind, generous, loving soul," Deraney told the AP. "Being a famous actor is not necessarily what he wanted to be. ... He had no ego, not an ounce of it."

(More obituary stories.)

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