If you were a firm fan of “Eight is Enough,” you might have noticed that the actress who starred as the real estate, Della Gale, was the same one who was cast for Dr. Abbott. The actress, Ellen Travolta, played both parts in the family series “Eight is Enough.” Like her A-lister brother, John Travolta, Ellen went into showbiz. Throughout the late 1970s, she had several minor roles including a role as a waitress in “Grease” with her younger brother in the lead role.
Following “Eight is Enough,” Ellen Travolta’s main roles included starring as Lillian in the series “Charles in Charge” and Louisa Arcola Delvecchio in “Joanie Loves Chachi.” Throughout the 2000s, she has added various minor roles to her credentials.
Sylvia Sidney – Aunt Fealty
This striking actress, Sylvia Sidney, made a guest appearance as Aunt Fealty in the family comedy-drama “Eight is Enough.” Of course, long before the shooting of the series began, Sidney – an actress of Romanian extract – had carved a name for herself in entertainment. Her most notable performances before “Eight is Enough” were as Fantine in “Les Misérables” and Katherine Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Fury.”
Though Sidney was already in her late 60s when “Eight is Enough” was on the air, afterward, she still contributed much to film and TV. She starred in the classic film “Beetlejuice.” Her last movie role was in “Mars Attack” and her last TV role was in “Fantasy Island.” The classic actress passed away in 1999.
Connie Needham – Elizabeth Bradford
As the aspiring dancer in the family, Connie Needham starred as the teen sister Elizabeth Bradford who, in fact, got the whole story going in the pilot episode after being arrested. Talk about a family drama. Though Needham’s breakout role was as Elizabeth Bradford, during the show’s time on the air she would take on nine other roles like in the series “Fame.” She was 18 at the time of shooting and married “Eight is Enough” set designer, David Needham.
In 1995, Needham had her last role as a waitress in “Ellen.” Like her “Eight is Enough” character who was an aspiring dancer, you could say Elizabeth Bradford’s dreams came true as Needham worked as a dance instructor in California.
Molly Dodd – Mother Superior
While the teen sister Elizabeth has three prom dates in the episode “Hit and Run,” if you were quick, you would have noticed the actress Molly Dodd starring as Mother Superior. It seemed like the LA actress, Dodd, had quite enough experience for the role as her father was a priest of the Anglo-Catholic Episcopal Church. Long before “Eight is Enough,” Dodd’s career onscreen had begun. Her first role was in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” and in the stage production “The Penguin.”
Sadly, the actress didn’t have much time after her performance in “Eight is Enough” as Dodd passed away in March 1981. During that year, Dodd had one of her last roles in the film “Evita Peron.”
James Van Patten – Merle & Carther
This actor’s father, Dick Van Patten, might have been in the lead role as the family patriarch, Tom Bradford, but this doesn’t mean his son, James Van Patten, jumped at the opportunity of starring in “Eight is Enough.” The younger Van Patter starred as Merle in the second reunion movie “An Eight is Enough Wedding.” However, back in 1978, you might be lucky to spot James Van Patten in an episode as Carther.
Though Van Patten grew up in a showbiz home, it was just a matter of time before he joined the showbiz bandwagon. In the late 1990s, Van Patten and his brother, Vincent, produced several films together including “The Break.” Van Patten still made time for acting. You can catch him starring as Dr. Heffner in the horror franchise “Saw.”