Fast Facts

  • Made his first of 27 Broadway appearances at the age of 7 in Tapestry in Gray.
  • Named his second child Nels after his role in the CBS sitcom Mama, which ran from 1949 to '57, and told the story of a Norwegian family living in San Francisco in the 1910s.
  • Developed a friendship with Mel Brooks after meeting on the tennis courts, and went on to act in three of the director's films.
  • Played the ship's doctor in the original 1976 two-hour pilot for The Love Boat, and was later a frequent guest star on the show.
  •  A love of animals led to his founding Natural Balance Pet Foods in 1989.
  • Had cameos in the "Weird Al" Yankovic videos "Smells Like Nirvana" and "Bedrock Anthem."
  • Started National Guide Dog Month in 2008 to raise awareness and money for nonprofit guide dog schools in the U.S.
  • Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009.
  • Published a memoir titled Eighty Is Not Enough.


  • Talia Balsam — Niece
  • Vincent Van Patten — Son
  • Pat Van Patten — Wife
  • Richard Van Patten — Father
  • Jimmy Van Patten — Son
  • Josephine Van Patten — Mother
  • Tim Van Patten — Half Brother
  • Nels Van Patten — Son
  • Joyce Van Patten — Sister


  • Birth Name: Richard Vincent Van Patten
  • Birth Place: Kew Gardens, New York, United States
  • Birthday: December 9, 1928, Sagittarius
  • Died: June 23, 2015
  • Profession: Actor

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