Thank you, National Enquirer, for calling our attention to an issue we as a pop-culture society should come together to solve: The health and well-being of our national treasures, aged former sitcom stars. We first became aware of this issue last year, when it was discovered that Happy Days star Erin Moran was homeless and bouncing from motel to motel. Today, we learned that another beloved face from the ’70s and ’80s, Eight Is Enough’s Susan Richardson is suffering from a number of health problems and scraping by in a broken down trailer. The diabetic 60-year-old, who played one of Dick Van Patten’s eight children on the ABC show that ran from 1977-81, has had strokes and also an incurable digestive tract condition that made her lose her teeth, the Enquirer reports (via Radar Online). In addition to a pension, she’s earning a living by turning fallen branches into walking canes for vets — which sounds both really sad and rather resourceful.
Eight Is Enough was actually Richardson’s last regular acting gig. She guest-starred on other popular shows such as Fantasy Island, CHiPs and One Day at a Time, and returned for two Eight Is Enough movies in 1987 and ’89.
So here’s our question: Can Hollywood develop some kind of fund or retirement home for down-and-out stars? It’s not the best industry in which to age — and at the same time, it throws the young into dangerous paths of drugs and partying that make them age (and grow broke) faster than most. Seems like they should be planning ahead to take care of their own, right?
[Photos: Warner Archive, Getty Images]