Dick Van Patten died yesterday declaring that eighty-six was enough. (Please forgive me for being glib, but that was simply too obvious to ignore.)
Dick Van Patten appeared as the fatherly pastor in my film "Sarah's Choice." Apparently, according to a conversation with producer David A.R. White, it was the first time he had been asked to play a minister. That's amazing when you consider his amazing list of credits. An accomplished character actor with great comic timing, he appeared in a dizzying number of television series from "Rawhide" and "I Dream of Jeannie" to "Love, American Style" and "Loveboat" before he finally hit pay dirt in his own series "Eight is Enought." He also appeared in a wide variety of films from "Soylent Green" (which was made out of people) and "Westworld," a guilty pleasure of mine, but he is perhaps best known in movies for a becoming a regular member of Mel Brooks' troupe of comic actors. (After finishing his work on our film, he went out to dinner with Mel Brooks.)
I did not get to meet Dick. I did not attend the California shoot of "Sarah's Choice," only the Ohio location shoot. However, I was delighted to have him bring his avuncular, reassuring presence to the film. I was a fan of "Eight is Enough." I used to watch the show in the comfortable living room of our family home on Rueckert Avenue in the quiet Baltimore neighborhood of Hamilton, At the time, I had definite aspirations of becoming a writer. I considered the possibility of being journalist or a novelist. Or even a playwright. Although movies were my first love, I never considered the possibility of becoming a screenwriter. I didn't know how it was done. I couldn't see a path from Hamilton to Hollywood. In a very real sense, working with Dick Van Patten was the consummation of a dream I didn't even dare imagine as a teenager.
Rest in peace, Dick. My condolences to your family.
Here's the trailer to "Sarah's Choice."
Read about the making of the film here: Sarah's Choice.
Be sure to check out my book The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God. It is available in paperback and on Kindle courtesy of TouchPoint Press.